Four Players The Chiefs Should Extend Pronto

SmokeSignals

The Chiefs are officially on the home stretch. Two winnable games remain in the season, but their outcomes are likely meaningless as the team can’t get knocked out of the playoffs nor can it improve it’s seeding without an unlikely Denver loss.

Therefore, I think it’s a good time to look ahead, not just to the meaningful games in the playoffs, but to the continuing building project that is this team. For both winning and losing teams, the meaningless stretch of the season is a time the GM can use to take stock, and begin planning who he wants to bring back, who he wants to cut, and who he should extend.

Although they are the least sexy and attention-getting moves among these three, extensions are an important part of building a competitive roster. Letting a player hit free agency is always a bit of a gamble – even if you’re confident the player will come back to the team, there’s no guarantee of what the final price tag will be if some other franchises start calling. Furthermore, virtually every player’s stock improves during a successful season. We don’t yet know where the Chiefs’ journey will end this year, but you can bet that a playoff run is only going to make these guys more expensive to re-sign, especially if the team makes a Super Bowl run.

Early extensions are also a good way of keeping a player happy and committed to the team long-term if they have outplayed their current contract. Here are the players who fit these criteria and whom I think the Chiefs could get at a bargain if they extend now rather than wait for the postseason or the current contracts to play out. (Salary figures from Sports City)

 

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

OLB Justin Houston, Current salary – 2013: $747,812, 2014: $837,812

This is the biggest no-brainer of the group. PAY THIS MAN. An elite pass-rushing talent that is good at everything else, there isn’t a team in the league that would not be interested in his services. We currently have him on his rookie contract through the 2014 season, but are paying him pocket change by NFL standards. This is the sort of guy that could easily get $10-15 million per year or more on the open market (Tamba’s making $15.5 million this year), we need to extend him before his stock gets that high, although that may be impossible after his early 2013 domination. If we can extend him to something in the $6-8 million per year range, half of that guaranteed, it’ll be a good deal for both sides. The Chiefs get a premium player under contract for years to come, and Houston will be getting several times more money next year than he would have under his current contract. The fact that he is currently coming off of an injury and has yet to tear it up in the playoffs as I expect him to do makes this an even more opportune time to get negotiations going.

 

G Geoff Schwartz, Current salary – 2013: $700,000, 2014: unrestricted free agent

Schwartz has proven to be arguably the best guard on the Chiefs roster. Although he initially only appeared as an injury replacement, he’s outplayed the starters every time he’s taken the field. He’s the sort of guy you probably don’t have to worry about getting into a bank-busting bidding war with another team over, but we’re paying him peanuts this year and may be able to save a buck and win some good favor by offering him double his money before we even move into the offseason.

 

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

DB/KR Quintin Demps, Current salary – 2013: $555,000, 2014: unrestricted free agent

Say what you want about his coverage skills, Demps provides valuable depth while being one of the very best special teams players in the league. He is currently 3rd in the league for kick return average yardage with 30.5, and 4th in return yardage with 846 yards. That’s more yardage than any Chiefs receiver has. Plus, while he may let up a few big passes in man-to-man coverage, he’s also come up with four interceptions this year, tied for 7th most in the league. Not saying we have to break the bank on this guy, but he will definitely attract attention as an unrestricted free agent, so give him a raise and lock him up for a couple more years before the rest of the league gets a chance to do the same.

 

QB Alex Smith, Current salary – 2013: $8.5 million, 2014: $9 million

This is most likely my most controversial addition to this list, but also the most important. I know Chiefs fans are once bitten twice shy on giving good-but-not-great quarterbacks early extensions, but the fact is that the Chiefs only have Smith under contract through 2014 and he is about to get more expensive. What is a very good quarterback worth? Well, that’s a difficult question. Criminally underpaid Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is making $681,085 this year and Broncos QB emeritus Peyton Manning is making $17.5 million the next two years, and $21 million for the two years after that if he hasn’t succumbed to Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and gout by then. Meanwhile, Patriots QB Tom Brady is making $13.8 million this year and Saints QB Drew Brees is making $17.4 million with a contract that jumps to over $26 million in 2015.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In my mind, the Chiefs are currently paying Smith a good number for his services. He may not wow national commentators with a rocket arm, but his most important statline for the season is 23 TD’s, 6 INT’s and an 11-3 record. The last time he played a full season, his team was a kickoff error away from a Super Bowl appearance. Perhaps less importantly, he’s won me over as a fan. I was very skeptical of the Smith trade earlier in the year, but I have been very impressed with the guy’s modest and professional attitude coupled with his ability to get it done on the field. I had already gotten on the Alex Smith bandwagon, but his comments this week strapped me in.

Coming off of a career day with a perfect passer rating and 5 TD’s, Smith was asked by the media what allowed him to pull it off. “Teammates make me look good,” he said. “I didn’t do much. Three screens for touchdowns. I’ve never been a part of anything like that or seen that.”

He’s right, of course, but come on man! It was the best game of your career! But, no ridiculous statline is going to give this guy an ego and I don’t think he’s the sort of guy that will fight the Chiefs for a big contract at this point of the year. But, taking the Chiefs to the Super Bowl might change that. The Chiefs need to get ahead of that and keep this guy for another couple years at $8 million. At worst, his limitations start to show and he becomes a high-end caretaker for the Chiefs next young gun QB. The important thing from a financial management point of view is that the team not get Flacco’d.

Topics: Alex Smith, Geoff Schwartz, Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs, Quintin Demps

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  • 2dogs

    I’ve been hoping the Chiefs would find a way to keep Albert. With all the points you made I can see the cap isn’t going to allow for that. Every team has to make these decisions (parity) but I hate when it’s our turn.

  • berttheclock

    Yes, give Geoff Schwartz a new contract. I am afraid he might consider jumping to the new Portland Thunder, an Arena football team, only because Kenny and Zukes have such a great deli in Portland. Give him enough so he can have some excellent latkes and matzah ball soup Fed-Exed to him.

    Loved his comment about why he and his brother are so big. He attributed it to an excess in both matzah ball soup and latkes, while, they grew up in LA.

  • berttheclock

    May the Schwartz be with the Chiefs.

    • micah stephenson

      A Spaceball reference always gets a like vote! Lol

  • Lyle Graversen

    Spot on list, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t see how anyone could dispute the first three. As far as Smith goes, I’ve done a complete 180. I wanted them to draft and develop their own guy, but Smith has won me over this season and is only like 29 years old. I’d even be okay if they went 4 years/40 mil.

    • Troy Utt

      I couldn’t agree more! I believe it is fair to say it is

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Add in Albert, Jackson, McCluster, and Asamoah! I love how Pioli used to get players extended early and save money in the process.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Jackson is another great one. I’d like to see McCluster back, but if it’s a choice between being able to afford Dex or a true #2 (like say Maclin) then I’d be willing to let Dex walk. As far as Albert goes, I’d like to have his talent on the roster, but with two younger and cheaper Ts on the roster in Fisher and Stephenson I’m not sure it’s the best use of their cap space when money is going to be tight next year. If Albert still wants to be paid like a top 5 LT, I don’t see it happening.

      • Chris Tarrants

        My only reservation against this is that this year when a tackle was hurt we had another good one to step in, having three will do that, but if we lose Albert then if someone gets hurt we won’t have the third guy to fall back on. Quality depth means just as much as having a roster full of probowlers

    • Harm Williams

      Branden is as good as gone, Stacy. Donald has more than proved he can get it done and Fish is a waste of a first overall if he doesn’t start playing at LT at some point. The money we are currently paying Branden will go to picking up a legit WR in FA, pay all of our new draft picks, and also resign Schwartz and Demps with raises. I am not sure is we see Tyson and Dexter back next year. Would like to see both but I can bank on it either. We will let Asamoah walk too. The line has played way better since he has been out of the lineup.

      • Chris Tarrants

        I would love to see us cut Dex loose snd pick up Maclin from Philly. Demps, and Davis are more than capable of taking over all special teams returns

        • Harm Williams

          Neither are decent punt returners, but we can pick someone up like Dri Archer in the late rounds or as an Unsigned FA that would be awesome at returns only. Or give someone like Jenkins or Williams a shot at returning punts next year.

          If I had my pick of what the offense looked like next year, we would move Bowe to the slot where he can be physical in the middle and use his body. Have Kelce as the starting TE who can be a LB mismatch, Have Maclin on one side and a 1st round receiver on the other side. Someone like Richardson or Matthews or a late rounder like Jeff Janis.

          Then have Hemmingway as Bowe’s backup in the slot, and AJJ as Maclin and and our new talented WR’s backup.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      I thought about it, but I look at those guys as being on a lower tier. They’re in the “re-sign for the right price” bin for me. Jackson has become important to this defense, but even his restructured and reduced contract of $7.2 million this year feels a bit high for him going forward. Albert would be great to have in the fold but Fisher has made strides and Stephenson has performed well in spot duty, so I’m not sure Albert warrants $10 million depending on what other free agents are out there. Asamoah, sure, but again, he may not even start next year. Allen, Schwartz and Asamoah are pretty equal in talent, with Schwartz being the best of the three in my opinion. McCluster would also be a great re-sign, depending on the price. As much as we have gotten out of him this year, he still hasn’t really stepped up as a real difference maker outside of special teams.

    • Doc

      I’ll have to disagree on Albert. He wants too much money and it appears the draft will have good depth of O-lineman. Stephenson has been good in replacement duty. Save the cash on Albert on get the others mentioned extended, then pick up the beef in the draft. Jackson may be pricey since he took a pay cut to stay with us, but his performance has improved, so he may be iffy.

    • DoubleD

      Mixed bag. Pioli whiffed big time on extending Carr early and saving money in the process. Still miffed about that.

    • micah stephenson

      O yea. Asamoah shud b 2nd on the list!

  • micah stephenson

    I been saying extend Houston now, before he gets too expensive! The other 3 I wud extend but wouldn’t give them much more than they already making. Allen Bailey can start for Jackson and Albert can go. That shud free up over 15 mill to play with.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      I’d sign up for all of that.

  • micah stephenson

    For those who like Alex Smith, how many yrs and how much money do he get?

    • Rob Ross

      Three years $33 million. That would keep him and allow us time to draft a replacement. If no replacement is found and he has remained competitive or even improved renew him for what he’s worth.

      • Harm Williams

        Smith will probably go lower… Like 3 and 31 going like 9M, 10M, 12M. He isn’t out to get paid. He’s out to win.

        • Jim Harper

          AS11 should get at least 4 yrs @ 10 mil a year. He has earned it and should be paid. That is still way below the elite QB’s are getting paid. If his stats fall off he would still make a solid #2. I still think Reid is grooming Bray to be our franchise QB. And I am sorry Harm, but I’m sure he wants to get paid. They don’t do this just for fun. But I think he will be reasonable.

    • stevekozak

      I am a huge fan of his, but I would not go beyond a 4 year at 10 mill a year deal. I think that would be perfect middle ground. Ha ha…maybe put a clause in that they won’t pull him in the middle of a stellar season just because they have some big armed tattooed wonder waiting behind him……… :)

  • Rob Ross

    Albert is a solid Tackle but he is penalty prone. I think the Chiefs should dump his salary and give it to Houston and whomever else the Chiefs see fit to keep. We need a talented free agent receiver. I believe that there will be some very good ones available. Draft wide receiver, cornerback, and whatever offensive linemen that might be available. In that order. I really like McCluster but we might be able to make a trade with him.

    • Harm Williams

      McCluster’s contract is up though. We won’t resign him only to trade him. I like where your head is at regarding WR’s in the draft. We need a few that is for sure. But we also need legit FS to unseat Lewis who is terrible, and we need an OLB that will pick up the slack if Tamba or Justin go down. Zombo is not going to cut it long term. Zombo is if good at #4 depth if both go down at the same time again. We need a better athlete in there to get to the QB and in coverage.

      I see our draft playing out like this.

      round 1: Ebron or a WR
      round 3: FS
      round 4: OLB
      round 5 WR
      round 6: OL
      round 6: WR
      UDFA: OL

  • tm1946

    Like the planning forward, suspect Dorsey is making a list and checking it twice.

    On your list not sure about Demps. He has done a ton for the team but draftees or future free agents or Demps has to play for less. You cannot pay everyone, we need a mix of both extremes. Wish we had the contracts of Seahawks, starting at QB who makes less than 900,000 a year but looks like a HOFer, leaves tons for other positions.

  • Robert Escobedo

    I guarantee Alex Smith will sign for less or fair price. He is a class act and wants to win NOW. He stayed in SF after that horrible first few years to try and make it right, taking a cut in pay to stay. Believe me KC fans, Smith does what the team needs to wins and that game management rap is so wrong. Thats what the West Coast offense is, dinking and dunking and giving the ball to great players like Jamaal. Alex Smith has a lot of Niner fans like me following the Chiefs this year. This team needs a pass rusher to help the DB’s, or a great couple of DB’s and a fast, athletic receiver. Otherwise I’d say draft for more depth because next years schedule should be more brutal.Go Chiefs! Go Alex!!!

  • Gene Haigler

    I am with you 100%

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