Jan 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) breaks a pass in the end zone intended for Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) in the second half during the 2013 AFC championship playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Three Possible Cap Casualties the Kansas City Chiefs Should Consider

In case you weren’t aware, the Kansas City Chiefs are in serious trouble when it comes to the salary cap heading into the 2014 off season. In fact, according to Over the Cap, even with the release of cornerback Dunta Robinson on Friday, the Chiefs only have about$3.3 million of cap space remaining. By NFL rules, all teams must be under the established salary cap at the start of the league year, which begins at 4 PM, Eastern Time on March 11.

The good news is, they’re not the only team in this predicament. In fact, there are teams that are worse off – some way worse off – than the Chiefs.

Many teams face this conundrum at this time of year. With the turnover in the NFL and some teams having a different general manager every few years, leads to contracts that over extend a team’s checking account.

The way teams are able to “balance the books” so to speak is dump excess players with inflated contracts to loosen their cap space constraints. In this case, one team’s trash is another team’s treasure as players who commanded big contracts on their old teams can be had for a bargain after being jettisoned in order to meet the cap.

So, what teams will need to release some players in order to get under the cap number?

I took a look at three teams that are in serious cap trouble. I also looked at players they have that would A: put a dent in lowering the team’s cap number if released and B: are a position of need for the Chiefs.

Keep in mind, all of this is purely speculative and some, all or none of it could potentially happen, but it’s Sunday and what else do we have to talk about?

First up, the Dallas Cowboys.

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) celebrates after recovering a fumble with linebacker Trent Cole (58) in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The ‘Boys are in trouble. They are $23.7M over the salary cap. That’s a lot of players to get released, just to get legal, not to mention if they want to sign their own free agents, draft picks or anyone else. It’s ugly. That’s exactly why guys like DeMarcus Ware who has a $16 million cap hit this season and would save the Cowboys $7.5 million is in trouble.

Getting ready to head into his 10th season, Ware is definitely on the back end of his career. However, Ware is an elite pass rusher in the NFL – nearly breaking the single-season sack record in 2008 with 20 – and the Chiefs need pass rushers. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s defensive scheme depends on pass rushers and the Chiefs don’t have enough. Ware was forced to move from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end last year and his production declined. He only had six sacks and 40 tackles, both career lows for him.

Could you imagine a package where Tamba Hali, DeMarcus Ware and Justin Houston were all rushing the passer? I’m scared and I’m just at home writing about it.

The next team in serious trouble is the San Diego Chargers.

Jan 5, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Diego Chargers receiver Eddie Royal (11) carries the ball during the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Bengals 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs southern California rival currently sits about $1.1 million over the cap. They are going to have to start shedding some weight before the March 11 deadline. One of those players could be wide receiver Eddie Royal.

Royal has been a mainstay in the AFC West for quite some time. Formally of the Denver Broncos and now with the Chargers Royal could potentially fit in well with the Chiefs as a veteran No. 2 wide receiver. In 2013 Royal caught 47 passes on 67 targets for just over 600 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those aren’t numbers that are going to blow the doors off of any record books, but they’re right around the numbers the Chiefs No. 1 receiver, Dwayne Bowe, had. That’s sad. If the Chiefs could pick up Royal as a cap casualty, I would say they go for it.

The final team I want to look at isn’t quite so bad off as the Cowboys and the Chargers — that is to say that they’re not currently over the cap. However, they don’t have much cap space to play with and need some serious pieces in the off season. That team is the New England Patriots.

Currently the Patriots have about $4.5 million in cap space. However, with a corps of wide receivers who most people still can’t name, a busted up tight end and a quarterback — while still great — in the twilight of his career, the Pats needs some help next season. To get that help, they’re going to need more than $4.5 million to get it done. Should the Patriots cut a player like safety Devin McCourty, they would nearly double their cap space.

McCourty isn’t a world breaker. He’s not Buffalo Bills free agent Jairus Byrd or Super Bowl Chapmion Earl Thomas by any stretch of the imagination. But he’s a solid defensive back that’s a hell of a lot better than Kendrick Lewis who has held down the position for the last three years.

January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) in the first of the game against the Denver Broncos of the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

McCourty had 69 tackles this season, caused two fumbles and picked off a ball to boot. He’s a solid player who can get to the ball while playing that centerfield position, if that’s what the Chiefs asked him to do.

Now keep in mind Addicts, this list of three players is a lot of wishful thinking and perhaps downright fantasy, but it could happen just as likely as it couldn’t. Dorsey has proven that his strengths lie in moving pieces around outside of the draft, and this could very well be that time.

The off season is just getting started and moves like these are bound to happen. What do you think? Would the Chiefs be smart to take advantage of these “cap casualties?” Who are you hoping gets released that the Chiefs can take a shot at? Sound off below.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!

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Tags: Demarcus Ware Devin Mccourty Eddie Royal Kansas City Chiefs

  • Troy Utt

    Great read Jason… That’s exactly the reason KC must trudge forward with what cuts & contract reconstructions they might be able to fiscally & responsibly manipulate ASAP, as cap casualties such as these happen each & every year… Grabbing Royal however remote the chance is obviously a possibility many of us had not previously thought about, & could very well be the diff maker on offense. Being fairly sure handed it may be enough to take the pressure of JC & combined w/ Bowe send the attn back down-field opening up the running game as it should be.
    IDK… It will be interesting to see what the brass does here in the next couple of weeks!!!

  • Hawthorne

    Unfortunately, other teams would probably be putting the Chiefs on that list. They are in a pretty similar boat to NE.

  • tm1946

    And if we were not in cap hell, it might be interesting. Ware for 2-3 years would be a bandaid who could play at a pro bowl level. Hopefully the draft might help fix some needs but a well placed, right guy could be something.
    Got to remember Albert is not the only Chief other teams will give a serious look towards. When you get noticed, the vultures start circling.

    • berttheclock

      Whenever, someone mentions vultures, my mind flits off to that great Larson cartoon of two vultures sitting atop a cacti in the desert. One of them says, “Patience, hell, I’m going to fly down and kill something”. Yes, some of the GMs out there are going to over react and kill their cap.

  • berttheclock

    Geez, if only micah could have Dorsey be able to fly backwards in time ala Superman to 2013, the Chiefs would not even have to take a wide out in FAcy. micah, filling in for Dorsey, never would have traded for Alex Smith, but, would have taken Geno Smith in the draft. Therefore, KC would have had a 2nd round pick and could have taken the very fast Justin Hunter from Tennessee, who used to catch passes from Bray. This was the pick SF acquired from KC, then, traded with the Titans, where the Titans took Hunter and SF dropped down to the Titan’s old spot and took Tank Carradine.

    Of course, now, the Chiefs would have a much higher pick in the 2014 draft because Geno would not have won as many games for the Chiefs, as Alex Smith.

    That said, I would pass on Eddie Royal and look to the draft. The Niners found an excellent receiver in the 4th round, last year, in Quentin Patton. A fractured foot limited his production, but, he should move up rapidly this coming season when healed. So, quality can still be found in the lower rounds.

  • Leon Ritz

    You do realize you only use 2 OLB in a 3-4 system???? Even thinking about adding Ware makes no sense

    • Spencer

      You ever hear of depth???? You ever remember having Houston and Hali hurt??? You do know that we rarely even played the traditional 3-4 system last year??? Playing nickle and dime far more often??? IF Ware comes cheap add him, dude gives us TALENTED as all hell depth and you can easily design plays to get all 3 (Houston, Hali, Ware) onto the field at the same time…

      You are only thinking and black and white…sadly the NFL is the complete opposite m8.

      • berttheclock

        3-4 or 4-3 or hybrids? Interesting comparison between the 47 sacks by the Chiefs and the 44 sacks by the Seahawks. The majority of the sacks by the Chiefs were split among the LBs, Flowers and Poe. The majority of the sacks by the Seahawks came from their defensive ends playing a 4-3. The way the DEs for the Seahawks were able to hit Manning and disrupt his passing makes a legitimate point about the need for better pass rushing DEs for the Chiefs. The pickup of Avril by Seattle was paramount to their overall success in the SB. He even led the Seahawks with 8 or 8.5 sacks

  • Keith Alberson

    Love the article. It would be scary to see DeMarcus Ware on the front line next to Poe, with Tambi, and Houston coming from the outside, Man! gives me chills. Unfortunately, i don’t see it happening. DeMarcus would make a heck of a statement, and easily make KC front line a monster. If the “Land Shark” develop this season, there are so many possibilities when you add a player like Ware. I don’t see Jackson in a Chiefs uniform next season, especially with his contract, and hit to the cap. It’s time to part with Jackson, and get someone that can rush the QB, and reak havoc on the front line. It’s imperative the Chiefs solve that problem this season, which will allow Poe to reach his full potential. Teams would not be able to double Poe every down, and with a reconstructed secondary, and we get that burner, you have to like the Chiefs chances, not only to win the division, but win in the playoffs. GM Dorsey has his work cut out for him this offseason, but this time of year, is what makes the game so intense, waiting to see what goes down in the reformation of your team, and anticipation what to come. Makes the game of Football the Greatest Sport in the World. Go Chiefs…………………………

    • berttheclock

      Visualize Poe at DE and a tough NT. Double team madness. Just imagine lining up seeing both Poe and Houston behind him on the same side across from you, asking ala “Animal House”, “You don’t mind if we dance with your ladies?”