Free agency time is rapidly approaching. Teams have already started dumping players they see as “undesirable” for next season. If you’re a player in the National Football League and your play on the field doesn’t measure up to what your “cap hit” is, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re about to become a “cap casualty” of the team.
While the Kansas City Chiefs will likely have plenty of those “cap casualties,” general manager John Dorsey will most likely be trying to find other ways to free up some salary cap space. Even though Pro Football Talk from NBC Sports is claiming that the new NFL Thursday Night Football television deal just announced this morning will increase the 2015 salary cap by as much as $7.5 million, that does nothing for teams barely clearing the cap this year.
We’re pretty sure we can point out some cap casualties from the Chiefs already –ahem…Dunta Robinson, we’re talking to you – but there is one other way that the Chiefs can open some cap space.
Yes, you know it’s coming.
The Chiefs need to give Alex Smith a new deal.
I know, many of you are thinking that this is a bad idea on many fronts. The Smith haters out there think that the Chiefs could conceivably be walking down the Matt Cassel road; giving a mediocre quarterback a big deal based on one decent year of performance. Perhaps you think that Smith should play out the last year of his existing contract, which means the Chiefs owe him $7.5 million this year. That’s all a straight cap hit, by the way. There’s no wiggle room there.
We know the Chiefs organization loves Smith, even if there are some Chiefs fans out there who aren’t completely sold on him as “the answer” in the Fountain City. In fact, yesterday afternoon my co-editor, Ben Nielsen posted a quick piece where Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt was quoted saying he wanted Smith in Kansas City for more than just two years.
Guess what? What the owner wants, the owner gets.
I don’t think Smith is going anywhere and I think if Dorsey and Smith can work a deal, they will.
But that still leaves the question: what will that deal be and how will it help free up some much needed cap space?
Thus far in his short tenure with the Chiefs, Alex Smith hasn’t come across as a “me” type player. He seems to understand his role and where he fits into the big scheme of things. He likes to win and I think he understands that the larger contract he demands, the less the Chiefs can put pieces around him to make that dream of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy a reality.
However, he does want to get paid for his trouble.
As I said, Smith is currently due to get paid $7.5 million for the upcoming 2014 season. Any renegotiated or new deal will have to pay him at least that amount. However, the Chiefs can work a deal that pays him that amount – or more – without having the cap hit that comes along with that. Here’s how they can do it.
The first thing the Chiefs would have to do is void his current contract and make a new deal with him. I think most realists agree that signing him for four years –2014 – 2017 – would be the best option for everyone involved. Put the guaranteed money in the first two years of the contract so there’s little, to no, dead money if they cut him after two or three years.
Next, make his 2014 base salary $1.5 million dollars. In addition give him an $8 million signing bonus. Therefore, his entire paycheck for the 2014 season would $9.5 million for 2014. But, because signing bonuses are prorated out through the life of the contract, there would be a $2 million hit this year. Thus, Smith’s 2014 cap number is now $3.5 million and the Chiefs have just saved $4 million in cap space.
The next three years of the contract would then be tricky, but doable. The NFL is all about “what have you done lately.” Nobody looks ahead to next year before this year has even started. If the Chiefs give him a $9 million base salary in 2015, that makes his cap number $11 million ($9 million base salary plus $2 million from his signing bonus) but next year is next year and this year is what the Chiefs need to worry about.
By doing this, the Chiefs lock up their starter, save some money that will allow them to not only dabble in free agency, but perhaps find some quality players to put around Smith as well as pay their draft picks in May.
That all being said, what do you think Addicts? If Dorsey could sign Smith to a cap friendly contract are you for it or should the Chiefs just let Smith ride out the last year and see where he stands?
The time is coming for the Chiefs to make a decision. What side will you land on?