The Football Writers of America have named Chiefs GM John Dorsey the NFL Executive of the Year and it’s not hard to see why. Dorsey, along with HC Andy Reid, pulled off a marvel, turning around the league’s most pathetic team and making it into a feared playoff contender with just one offseason.
By the time the team kicked off in Jacksonville to start the season, Dorsey and Reid had replaced two-thirds of the roster. Top-line free agents WR Dwayne Bowe, P Dustin Colquitt and LT Brandon Albert had been retained. A talented defense was finally put in a position to thrive. Perhaps most impressive was the way that Dorsey’s constant but methodical churning of the bottom of the roster turned out gems. CB Marcus Cooper looks like a starter in this league and TE Sean McGrath ended with 302 yards receiving and 2 TD’s in spot duty.
But, as amazing as that feat was, Dorsey faces an even tougher task during this offseason, and I wouldn’t expect him to repeat the amazing year-on-year improvement of the last cycle.
First, as has been laid out very well here at Arrowhead Addict, the Chiefs are in a salary cap bind. With just $3 million and change in cap space, Dorsey doesn’t have the option to sign all of the Chiefs important outgoing free agents, nor is he likely to be able to replace them all with outside free agents that the market deems as comparable talents. In fact, the big ticket guys like LT Brandon Albert and DE Tyson Jackson are almost certainly gone. WR Dexter McCluster will similarly be difficult to get under the cap ceiling and still allow for cash for draft picks, camp bodies and overall fiscal flexibility during the offseason.
If you haven’t already, and especially if you’re already writing a comment below criticizing me for being a naysaying Debbie Downer, just go over the Over the Cap’s Cap Calculator for the team and show me how you make it work yourself.
Personally, I think the team is going to have to spend more than half of its cap space bringing back S/KR Quintin Demps, G Georff Schwartz, G Jon Asamoah, and S Husain Abdullah. All four of them are going to get at least a meager pay raise, but they’re still among the cheaper options on the platter and all are dependable options at positions of need. Safety in particular is a spot that requires at least one outside acquisition, but I feel better about Abdullah out there than Kendrick Lewis, who I firmly believe is packing his bags.
Toss in the cutting of CB Dunta Robinson, and the Chiefs will be close to where they started. That’s my opening salvo, and I’m still planning my next move, I’m sure Dorsey tinkering with the same. But don’t count on him to play the same Superman routine he did last year, extending Alex Smith and resigning all of our favorites. It just isn’t happening.
The second reason Dorsey won’t be getting executive of the year next year is that the Chiefs are headed for a much tougher schedule in 2014. I’m still picking them to get into the playoffs, but it’s going to be a much harder and uglier road than it was last year. The Chiefs have the 7th toughest strength of schedule in the league next year compared to the 5th easiest (as judged pre-season) last year.
In 2013, KC was also 11-0 against mediocre QB’s, while going 0-6 against Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck. The Chiefs’ pass defense is going to face an even tougher gauntlet in 2014. Along with playing Manning and Rivers twice, the Chiefs will face Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick next year.
All and all, Dorsey and Reid are going to have find a way to do more with less, plain and simple. The good news is that, lost in the defensive breakdown late in the season is the fact that the team improved in every area except pass D. All the same, the Chiefs are not going to sneak up on anyone next year, and the team won’t have any more “first year” excuses. While I expect the Chiefs to continue to do good things, 2014 is likely to be a reality check for the limits of money and management. If the Chiefs are going to keep surging forward, the improvement is going to have to happen on the field, not in the front office.