The Chiefs & The Reality Of Roster Turnover

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Roughly five weeks from today, members of Chiefs Kingdom will face a harsh reality. The Kansas City Chiefs are almost certain to allow one or more former draft picks to hit the open market. Given a restrictive cap situation, it’s highly probable that several of the teams’ pending free agents will become unrestricted when the new league year begins. Among those players are Tyson Jackson, Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah, Dexter McCluster, and Kendrick Lewis. If I were a betting man, I think it would be safe to say that few, if any, of them will be re-signed.

Roster turnover is a reality of the National Football League. It has been since the league instituted the salary cap in 1994. The Chiefs currently have one of the highest payrolls in football and will be one of the teams most affected by the cap in 2014. Every NFL season, when the free agency period begins, players defect for other teams. This has finally become a reality for Kansas City and while disheartening, I submit to you that this is a positive sign.

There are a number of reasons why a team’s cap situation can force them into allowing players to walk. Poor cap management is one such reason. In the Kansas City case, I’m not sure that reason applies. I think the reason why the Chiefs are finally in this position, after so many years in the NFL’s cellar, is because they have more valuable players than they can afford to keep. The general talent level has reached a threshold where the rate of personnel attrition may be higher than normal for a while.

Less talented rosters also deal with the departure of key players, but that’s generally for different reasons. Either players for those franchises wish to move on to more viable contenders or cap casualties are the effect of one expensive contract too many for underachieving players. The Chiefs are clearly loaded on both sides of the football. Ten players were named to this year’s Pro Bowl. There’s only so long that you can avoid losing players when that becomes your reality.

Successfully navigating the salary cap’s treacherous waters requires you to backfill your roster with viable talent. Although losing players is to be expected, you give away ground when you don’t have competent replacements available. Last week fellow AA writer Nicholas Clayton expounded upon defensive end Allen Bailey’s readiness to take the reins from current starter Tyson Jackson. He’s one of the likely candidates for unrestricted free agency, but having a successor with Bailey’s skillset potentially takes the sting out of losing him. The same may also be true of tackle Donald Stephenson with a Branden Albert departure from KC.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

It might be time for the Chiefs’ fanbase to get used losing important players, a little more often, here and there. This is part and parcel of having a good football team. I’d hate to get your blood pressure up, but should you have the gall, take a look at the players scheduled to hit free agency come 2016 (it’s a long one). Now I won’t predict a pickle for the front office that far into the future. There’s just no good way to know whether those players will still be productive, healthy, and generally trending upwards when that time comes. I think you get the general idea though. The better this roster gets, the tougher it will be to retain all of its best players.

I feel a bit like this is the second half of the article I wrote last week on general manager John Dorsey. He’s going to face some interesting challenges over the next few seasons. His best talent was mostly inherited so he’ll have to prove that he can find successors for aging players like Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson (both on that aforementioned list I cited). More specifically, he’ll be responsible for finding players who can be as or more effective in those roles. If he can’t, Kansas City risks sliding back in the basement of the AFC West when injuries, old age, and contract expirations claim those players.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs in Missouri

How are you feeling about the prospects of losing players like Branden Albert and Tyson Jackson? Is this a natural part of becoming a football team with a winning culture? Should John Dorsey be held accountable when homegrown talent gets away from Kansas City? Have your take in the comment section below. As always, we appreciate your readership and support!

Until next time, Addicts!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Lyle Graversen

    Yup, I think there is a zero percent chance that Albert is back. I’ve come to terms with that. I think they would bring any of the others you mentioned back if they gave KC a sweet discount, but if not I think they’ll all hit the open market. My mission since KC lost that playoff game has been to try and bring the fanbase around to the idea that this offseason isn’t about big moves. It’s about smart moves. Not re-signing the biggest names (Albert) but the best player for the price (Schwartz). It’s not about making headlines by signing the hot FA, it’s about scouring the available players looking for the next Marcus Cooper. My worry is that the typical fan doesn’t get that and if KC lets Albert and Jackson go (and could even have to cut another “name” player to create cap space) and doesn’t sign any big names they’ll flip out about how we’re headed in the wrong direction.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I’ve said all offseason that 2014 was a year for player development and a good draft class. I expect no more than 2-3 FA signings of note.

      The good news is, we have players in place who can keep the talent at DE and LT from going into the toilet. That’s how you succeed over a long period of time. You backfill with players who can eventually grow into comparable or better starters at key spots.

      There will be a handful of low-profile free agents I’d like to see us go after, but I expect to see some of these pending free agents re-signed and maybe even counted upon to fill vacancies at starting spots (like Abdullah).

    • Robert Firestone

      So we are going to follow in the footsteps of the baseball movie “Moneyball?”

      • berttheclock

        As a diehard Oakland A’s fan, please, do not bring up that book and/or movie. Yes, finally, the A’s have captured the AL West title, but, we have not returned to the World Series, so, Billy Beane may have made a few shrewd moves, but, he has, also, let some great talent get away.

        • Robert Firestone

          well hard to do anything about it with your low team salary.

        • Kisersosay

          Well Bert it is hard to feel for the A’s when you lived through the build up and supported the A’s team to a championship level only to see them moved to Oakland just before they went on a Championship run….it was a killer….

          • berttheclock

            As I left for California two years before the A’s departed, it was easy for me to retain my feelings for them. They had come to KC when I was a junior in HS and I really followed them. However, I well imagine had I stayed in KC, I would have been as upset about their move as many fans in KC and I would have ended becoming a diehard Royals fan. Funny thing about the move by Charlie is he picked the wrong financial location. Financially, he could never compete in the Bay against the love for the Giants. As a result of the lack of money, I have witnessed many stars depart the A’s, but, somehow Beane does make things interesting up to a point.

    • Troy Utt

      I agree Lyle… I don’t believe we can get Schwartz extended quick enough! I’m not real sure why he wasn’t elevated to starter after Reid exclaimed, “the best five will start” last season? Same with Stephenson I happily ate crow watching the improved level of his play this season, as I was not during his rookie campaign as he was plain getting out muscled! Not only did Stephensons offseason in the weight room pay-off, but it should give those who are down on Fisher hope for the future!
      What a diff one off-season can make!
      Your point about the typical fan is actually quite funny, as most do not understand! I will often shake my head while reading thru the comments as they are so far out of line, sometimes reading like wish-list’s for a dream team! Madden has tainted a generation & it’s hard to argue reality with some after having lived in the virtual world so long!

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I hate to give up on Asamoah so quickly, but something has to give between he and Schwartz. He struggled in Reid’s scheme a bit and might find himself on the outs. He’s a good young football player though. No question about it.

        • Canad-Ian

          I definitely think Asamoah will be a steal for another team. One of those “How did KC let him go?” type players.

          • berttheclock

            My question is why was he picked one player ahead of Veldheer, who ended up consistently being rated higher than Albert? If he been picked, Albert could have been moved to his more natural position of guard.

          • cyberry

            Veldheer went to Hillsdale..divison II school.. small school lineman usually take time. Peterson usually wanted players who played against upper competition in college..(remember that big lineman he took in the 1st RD just because he was big and went to MIchigan…Trezelle Jenkins…BUST..lol).. Actually.. Albert played tackle in high school..when he went to Virginia (one of the only schools he could go to..bad grades..) they already had 5 star recruit Eugene Monroe.. the coach asked him to play LG so they could attempt to have a running attack. But he apparently felt awkward pulling..and still gave up few sacks.. His junior year the put him at LT..and he had the best grading for, i think, two weeks in a row..lineman of the week.. That’s why he gets irritated when people call ..the guard is nature position.. He only played there for his coach..and for only 2 and half years.. he feel more comfortable at Tackle…

        • Troy Utt

          Reach… I agree in the hodge podge of line-up’s that were the 2013 season if not mistaken we had Stephenson, Schwartz, Hudson, Asamoah, & Fisher at one point… It seemed to work, we were able to open rushing lanes as well pass protect which was not our strong suit early on.

          • berttheclock

            Schwartz at LG instead of Allen was automatically addition by subtraction.

          • Troy Utt

            That’s where I struggled last season… After hearing Reid state,
            “the best five will play.” It seemed to me anyway we were a better team when Schwartz was on the field.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I’d prefer it went that way. Schwartz probably won’t want to come back as a backup. So either you allow Asamoah to walk and pencil him in as your starter at right guard or you re-sign them both and give him Allen’s job.

          • Troy Utt

            Which if possible is the best possible senario for the OL assuming Albert will be gone. Fisher, Schwartz, Hudson, Asamoah, & Stephenson… I believe both are better than Allen, & if last year has shown us anything it was our lack of depth along the line, so leaving him as a reserve is my contention.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Schwartz was our best offensive lineman. I doubt seriously he’ll want to come back as a reserve.

    • toperspective

      I agree. I think the biggest problem with many fans is that they don’t have even a basic understanding of the cap and they unrealistically expect FA’s to take a big home town discount to stay with the Chiefs. Most of these guys careers are so short that they have to get paid when they can.

    • berttheclock

      Belichick traded Richard Seymour to the Raiders while Seymour still had some legs. Now, who really was the better mind in that deal? I well imagine at the time, there were groans across the entire NE region.

    • jimfromkcj

      I am with you 100% and am only sorry it took this train wreck of a season to bring at least some of you to understand you just can’t pay players more than their position warrants and stay right side up in the cap. As far as I am concerned there is only a handful of Chiefs who have played up to their contract money. Too many fans don’t want to understand how things work and thus every time a player wants more money you have a lot of fans saying pay the Man. Well I would guess if it was their money they were talking about it would be different. But for some reason folks in this country have an attitude that they deserve something for nothing and they get bent out of shape if they don’t get it. with the cap, I would sincerely hope that the team spend that cap judiciously and not pay any attention to the fans who know nothing. I think that the Bowe contract was an attempt to keep fans happy and buying tickets.

      • Kisersosay

        Train Wreck of a season?????? Surely Jim you didn’t have them winning the SB or getting to the AFC Title game before the season started……think more like Roller Coaster with no wrecks…. :)

        • jimfromkcj

          You might call losing a 28 point lead in the third quarter a train wreak, and I call winning 9 games against less than stellar opponents and losing 5 of 7 against good teams a train wreak. Both suck big time. So yes a train wreak could describe the season pretty accurately. Pro football dropped our offensive line from 5th to 20th. Does that tell you something?

          • Kisersosay

            Oh I get it now…Train Wreak

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Bowe earned that contract.

  • toperspective

    It’s just a natural part of becoming a winning franchise. The cap means you can’t pay everyone. It’s hard for fans but it’s the only way to stay on top. Screw up your cap with high priced veterans and you can be set back for years. The perennial winners let long time favorites walk for the good of the franchise.

  • berttheclock

    I still believe in the Bill Belichick philosophy of “It is far better to release too soon than it is too hold on too long”. King Carl held on too long. Pioli tried the cheap under part of the roster without finding quality talent, so, he ended up overpaying at the top without a solid foundation beneath them. John Dorsey, now, has to work this out on his own, but, he had great training in Green Bay. I expect to see him follow the footsteps of both John Schneider and Trent Baalke in finding far more talent in the lower rounds, which can keep your cap lower. BTW, Seattle is set for next year, but, they will have major cap problems looming in 2015 and beyond when Wilson, Sherman and his other young stars come knocking at Paul Allen’s vault door.

    So, get used to seeing far more U-Hauls in operation throughout the Greater KC area. No team, with the cap, can ever stay content with what once was. They must continue to keep churning for the future.

  • berttheclock

    Is it not a bit ironic for those who remember the constant posts at the Star about the so-called “Cheapness of Clark”?

    • Stacy D. Smith

      That argument never really had legs to it. Clark’s been spending for a while now. Look at what Pioli was being paid.

      • berttheclock

        Yes, indeed, that was a record setting welfare check, eh?

      • jimfromkcj

        I would have to disagree, He never opened the pocketbook until the stands started emptying out and the fans revolted and had planes flying over Arrowhead with signs calling for action and billboards around town calling for the same. I think if it hadn’t of happened we would still have Pioli and he would still be trying to make Cassel something he wasn’t.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          That’s not true. He made Pioli the highest-paid GM in the league when he hired him. The Chiefs went on to grant three extensions early AND give Cassel a huge contract. If memory serves, the final season of the Pioli regime, the Chiefs had the highest payroll in the league.

          • jimfromkcj

            Stacy, I am not 100% sure, but I think that the Chiefs had around 20 million carry over each year that Pioli was here. In fact I think Dorsey had some carryover his first year. He went through all of it, and we are where we are today, between a rock and a hard place. We pay way too much for an outside line backer , CB, WR and safty. We are not even close to a franchise QB salary and are still up against the cap. We are upside down as far as the cap is concerned.

          • Stacy D. Smith
  • Priest4Prez

    Off that list McCluster is one of the best viable options. Underrated and was well utilized in this scheme

  • berttheclock

    Yet, another reason I am thrilled Dorsey is here and his predecessor is gone. I was just reading about the cap problems Green Bay is facing. There was one player on their list who could have been picked up by the Chiefs for a song. Evan Dietrich-Smith, now makes $1.3 M as their starting center. However, I remember seeing him play in a late preseason game between the Packers and the Chiefs. I had read how many NFL scouts viewed those late games of the Packers due to some fine players heading for being cut. The Chiefs did pick up a NT from those cuts, but, they let D-S slip to the Seahawks. However, one year later, he was cut by the ‘Hawks, but, KC did not try to sign him. Finally, after some time, Green Bay did and he has risen in value with them. Dorsey was still with Ted Thompson when he was picked up. Dorsey really understands both talent and value. Perhaps, the stairwells are a bit clogged with paper, but, there is a real mind at work in the GM’s office.

  • Hawthorne

    I hate to say it, but I think this is the year to move Hali and Flowers. Flowers is great but doesn’t fit our scheme. Hali is awesome and it’ll be sad to see him go, but he’s not getting any younger and has a huge cap hit. The draft this year is stuffed with players, if we are going to move them in the next few years, this would be the time.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I can understand and maybe even get behind Flowers, but Hali? We’d be creating a hole where we had a sufficient answer and nothing in the cupboard behind him. I dislike that idea.

      • Hawthorne

        I hear you, I hate the idea too. Hali is a beast and maybe we can restructure him, but OLBs don’t last forever and after 30 the speed starts to tail off. The question is do we try to get something out of him while he’s still valuable or ride it out till he retires, really I’d be happy either way.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I’m opposed to it, but I could be cajoled into him being traded with a reasonable plan to replace that sack production.

          • Hawthorne

            Trade him for a first, pick up Aaron Donald awesome pass rusher at DE and Dee Ford in the first round. Our production at OLB slips a little while Ford develops, but not too much and our Dline become instantly more disruptive with Donald. This also gives us the space to sign Maclin or Tate allowing us to use rounds 3-4 to get better size and scheme fit DBs. (picks are based on Fanspeak’s on the Clock)

          • Stacy D. Smith

            As long as we address the hole trading Hali leaves early, I could wrap my head around it. I’m not ready though. I think it’s still too early to turn him loose.

  • berttheclock

    Now, the fellow who said the Chiefs should have taken Geno Smith with their Number One pick, last year, says the Chiefs should take a QB in a higher round. Yes, Jaws is foaming at the mouth, once again. I still recall Jaworski coming to KC and schmoozing with Pioli and loving the direction the Chiefs were heading. One great thing about this past season is I learned to wean myself off both ESPN Football shows, such as “NFL Live” and NFL Network, otherwise known as “The Collective Mouths That Roared and said very little of any significance”. All they did was to keep calling the Chiefs “frauds” and to claim constantly the Broncos were the Greatest Team in the Entire History of the Universe and why was all of that money going to be wasted by having a Super Bowl game, when, it would be cheaper to just give Peyton and friends The Lombardi Trophy and party hardy.

  • jimfromkcj

    Many have been scratching their heads about the Super Bowl, but it is very simple if you peruse the depth charts of the teams and compare them with our own. If you look at the Seahawks defensive line you will notice that they are 2 deep at every position and if you check the stats for all of them you will find that the sacks all favor the second guy at the position. In other words they have guys who can make penetration setting on the bench and going in and keeping constant pressure on the offensive line of the opponent. They are also playing a 43 defense that I prefer. They are also a lot bigger, younger and faster on their back line. they are 6’3″,5’10″,6’3″ and 6’1″ across their back line and their shortes is Thomas who plays safty. Our back line runs5’9″,6’0″,6’0″ and 6’3″ with our shortest player playing CB. These show why I have been advocating getting bigger and quicker at all positions. We have a guy coaching the backfield who was one of the best bump and run CB’s to ever play the game and why we are playing 10 yards off the line is a mystery to me. The only thing I can figure out is that the coachs don’t trust them to play up and press them because they aren’t fast enough to recover if they get beat at the bump.