After years of being near or at the bottom of the NFL in spending, the Kansas City Chiefs have some fans calling them the Kansas City Cheaps.
Whether or not the Chiefs are actually cheap is up for debate. The organization has had a young team over the last few years and has not had a lot of stars to pay. On the other side of the coin, the team hasn’t used any of that money in free agency to sign any stars.
This offseason has been a bit different, as the team has signed free agents Kevin Boss, Peyton Hillis, Brady Quinn and RT Eric Winston. The Chiefs still have a good deal of cap space left, however, if you factor in what they will need to spend on their incoming draft class, they are likely to end up somewhere near the middle of the pack as far as spending goes in 2012.
The perception among some fans is that the Chiefs under Clark Hunt are cheap. The Chiefs have fervently denied these accusations and GM Scott Pioli has gone on the record multiple times as saying that he has no limit on what he is allowed to spend. Still, I’ve often wondered if the perception of thriftiness among fans was shared by any players or agents.
It appears that for at least one anonymous agent, it is.
In an article released today by Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, an agent singles out the Chiefs, Chargers and Bengals as teams that he or she believes wouldn’t spend unless they were forced to do so.
“If you give Kansas City or Cincinnati or San Diego an extra $1.6 million or $3 million or $5 million, who cares? They’re not going to spend it,” an agent said. “When there was no cap and no spending floor, those teams didn’t pay anybody. They were way below the spending limits. If Washington and Dallas had the money, they’d spend it and the league knows it.”
The article is about the validity of the recent penalties the league has passed down upon the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys for overspending in last year’s uncapped year. It’s excellent, and raises a number of interesting questions about whether or not the owners agreeing to not overspend in 2011 despite there being no salary cap, was collusion. There is a chance the Cowboys and Redskins could sue the league over this. Definitely worth a read.
The sources in the story also question why the teams that refused to spend were not penalized.
“Couldn’t you argue that teams that saved all this money by not spending are helping themselves out artificially by saving room to spend later?” the agent said. “The only teams being punished are the big spenders and that’s because the league wants to hold down salaries.”
There is a strong argument to be made that this is exactly what the Chiefs did. Yet it is the teams that spend and regularly spend, that have been penalized.
Another fascinating point the article makes is that when teams like the Redskins and Cowboys spend a lot of money, it causes problems for teams who might like to spend less. The article cites the contract that the Cowboys gave WR Miles Austin in 2010. This caused problems for the Chargers when it came time to re-sign of franchise WR Vincent Jackson. Since the franchise tag is an average of the salaries of the top paid players at that position, Austin’s contract drove up the cost of placing the franchise tag on Jackson for the Chargers.
The league is clearly trying to keep costs down and the players are clearly not happy about it. They also aren’t happy that seemingly unfair punishment is being levied against the teams that do spend and not the teams, like the Chiefs, that until recently did not spend.
The quote by the agent about the Chiefs is somewhat troubling only because it makes one wonder if this perception ever puts the team at a disadvantage when pursuing free agents. Though this is only the opinion of one agent and an anonymous one at that, it isn’t inconceivable to imagine a situation where an agent receives a call from the Chiefs and the Redskins about one of his free agent clients and decides to give preference to the team that he knows is most likely to offer the best deal. This could mean that the Chiefs get moved to the bottom of the list of teams a player is considering when they hit the market, especially if money is a top priority.
This in no way confirms the Chiefs are cheap or that there is an overarching belief among all agents that the Chiefs won’t spend. It does however, pull pack the curtain a bit to how agents might view certain teams and how that might impact free agency negotiations and player interests.
I tend to feel, at least right now, that the Chiefs look pretty smart in their spending habits over the last few years. They were able to carry over a bunch of cap space and have used all that money to sign Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Stanford Routt, Peyton Hillis, Kevin Boss, Eric Winston, Brady Quinn and to franchise Dwayne Bowe. If the Chiefs wanted to spend some more money, they might have been able to land Kyle Orton or even Peyton Manning (maybe) but at what cost? How many other players might the team have to sacrifice for those big ticket guys?
It is an interesting thing to think about and is a situation we’ll likely never to fully be able to understand given our outsider perspective.
What do you think Addicts? Are the words of this one agent likely an indication of the general perception of the Chiefs among agents and players? Or is it just the huffing and puffing of an agent who wants to keep his pockets lined and player salaries high?