Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Need Extensions More Than New Signings


I’ll admit, the Chiefs “red wedding” free agency period has involved a lot more casualties than I expected. Then again, all Chiefs fans should have heard the Rains of Castamere playing since the end of the season.

In my mind, two things happened on that dreary day on the Green Fork (okay, enough Game of Thrones references/spoilers): 1.) The Chiefs were a victim of their own success. I don’t think any Chiefs fan would have been gung-ho about paying WR Dexter McCluster, DE Tyson Jackson or G Geoff Schwartz $4 million or more per year based on their production up to that point (honestly, I still wouldn’t be). But, 2.) When each of them ended up having a career years, they were then priced out of the equation.

As much of a bummer as it is see all of them go, looking at their contracts one by one, I wouldn’t have favored the Chiefs keeping a single one of them at the price tag they got.

Four years/$16.8 million for a guard that has never been a starter?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Five years/$25 million for a two-down, run-stuffing DE?

Three years/$12 million for a kick returner who’d only had one TD return before 2013? Or is he a wide receiver (that averaged 43 catches per season with the Chiefs)? Or is he a 170-pound running back (who’s only had more than 18 attempts in one season)?

Jon Asamoah has no specific knocks against him, but 5 years/$22.5 million is a lot for any guard. Asamoah is certainly above average, but the average salary for O-linemen is $1.76 million, and that includes high-priced left tackles.

Brandon Albert was the only player the Chiefs lost that could be considered “core” and we’ve known since last offseason that he was going to walk this year. The Chiefs already have a decent replacement and a 1st overall pick waiting behind him in the spot.

All and all, only one thing could have kept these guys on this team going into 2014 — a timely contract extension last offseason or before.

Contract extensions are like bets or purchases of stock. You buy low, sell high.

Going into 2013, the prevailing view was that the Chiefs weren’t confident that they would want to keep guys like McCluster and Jackson even at a low price. They each had their flashes, but neither had made himself into an integral part of the roster. One was a gimmicky, but occasionally electric offensive weapon, the other was a (very) slowly developing immovable object on the D-line. How do you put a value on those kind of pieces?

Well, you don’t pay them the salary of an above-average starter if that’s not what they were. I suspect the Chiefs could have extended both for peanuts last offseason, but at the time the risk appeared higher that these two would never develop into core players.

Still, I think GM John Dorsey and HC Andy Reid would be patting themselves on the back now if they had offered extensions in the $1 million to $2 million per year range with low guarantees that would at least keep them on the team through 2014.

That’s why it is essential that they not make the same mistake this year with QB Alex Smith and OLB Justin Houston, both of him will hit free agency at the end of the season. Smith and Houston both outplayed their contracts last year. We have no reason to suspect they won’t do the same this year.

Smith in particular hit his stride later in the season, and if that is the QB we are going to see for the duration of 2014 — first off, awesome — and secondly, the Chiefs need to extend him now or he will have the team over the barrel if he is headed for the open market.

In a way, it will be both easier and harder to extend Houston. On one hand, the fact that Houston is making less than $900,000 this year, means that it will be easy to offer him an extension that will put money in his pocket now — money that he wouldn’t have gotten if he opted to ride out his contract to the end. On the other hand, with the tiny cap wiggle-room the front office has at the moment, it will be difficult to give him a big pay boost this year. But, it’s worth it if a deal can be done.

According to Joel Thorman’s calculations, the Chiefs now have about $3.4 million of real cap room, taking into account the expected salaries of draft picks. While you always need a little cushion in the cap in case of injury emergencies and or to scoop up another team’s training camp cuts, I’m fine with using about $3 million of that to try and make one or both of these extensions happen.

If Smith and Houston agree to two-to-three year extensions on their current deals with the increase in their 2014 pay being just $1.5 million each, I say Dorsey should jump on it. Obviously it’d be great to lock up Houston long-term as he should be a blue chip Chiefs player for a decade, but if that $3 million can at least lock them down for another year or two to allow the team to get them paid when it has the money to do so, I think that will be cash well spent.

What say you, addicts?

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Tags: Alex Smith Brandon Albert Dexter McCluster Geoff Schwartz Jon Asamoah Justin Houston Tyson Jackson

  • berttheclock

    Excellent points. It brings up an important point in not going after DeSean Jackson. The only reason the Eagles are floating rumors about trading Jackson comes down to two things. His constant whining about wanting more money and his constant whining about wanting more money. Jackson would create a mess with our cap as he wants more money than he is making in Philly and with his past history, he will never be satisfied with any deal and will end up whining for more money from the Chiefs. Yes, he has some very impressive stats, especially, for someone who can be held up at the line of scrimmage, but, the Chiefs will only end up with an “I’m so poor” guy who is going to age himself out of production. The Chiefs can take care of their own and find new talent and cheaper talent in the upcoming draft.

    • Troy Utt

      I have to agree with you on DeSean Jackson, despite his talent just as you said no amount of money iw ever going to be enough!

  • Troy Utt

    Nicholas, If I understood the article correctly you are suggecting KC try to extend the existing contracts that either Smith or Houston are playing under now? Should they agree then just give em’ a bump from what we have left in our FA fund???
    If indeed that is what you are proposing? I understand the premise behind it & believe that is the best protocal. Trying to extend contracts before they expire, logging more years & more favorable terms is certainly in the best interest of the Chiefs!
    However… Houston is just coming off his rookie deal looking to get paid, & Smith has already made a little money in the league but has in all rights elevated himself to another level… Good thing for us that both are seemingly team players & willing to negotiate. I believe Smith will take a bit less than market value, but there is no way he is playing for less than $10mil… Hali is aged so Houston is the future…
    Maybe I did not understand what you meant??? But…

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Yep, that’s what I meant.

      • berttheclock

        Too bad this was not done with Schwartz in the very early part of last November.

        • NicholasAlanClayton

          Indeed, but who could have thought about such a genius move at the time …

          • berttheclock

            I dub thee, Semper Prescient.

        • Stan Colbert

          8m an interview ,GS stated, during FA a lot of teams thought of him as a non starter. The Chiefs being one of those. I have not heard anything about what KC offered Asamoah, nut it is obvious, KC didn’t think near as much as other teams. That actually gives me confidence, the less a player is needed the cheaper he becomes.

        • Jim Harper

          I don’t think Dorsey really knew how good Schwartz was going to become.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    It’d definitely be beneficial to get Smith locked up. We can work on Houston during the regular season. Extending him early would be a big plus as well. No doubt about it.

    • Troy Utt

      I guess I’m just to dense to get it Reach??? I understand & agree w/ the premise… But we all know that financially that is just not going to happen! Their deals need to be reworked but not at the cost of offending either of them to the point of departure!
      Am I missing something? More funds will need to be available prior to negotiations. Or this is just a wasted exercise at this point…

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I don’t think it’s a wasted exercise. Players want long-term security. I think there’s enough money available to get the AS11 deal done.

        • Jim Harper

          Yes I think they can put a bunch of money into a signing bonus which if I understand it right does not effect the cap.

          • jimfromkcj

            Jim signing bonuses go against the cap, but just in a different way. Say you sign a player for 4 years and you give him a 12 million bonus. That 12 million would be counted against the cap equally each year of the contract. But if you cut the guy after two years, the last two years of the bonus that has not been counted against the cap, or 6 million would be dead money and count against the cap. You don’t gain anything by giving a bonus, other than to be able to pro rate it for the length of the contract. At least that is the way I understand it. Most times when you rewrite a contract you just stretch it out and add money that just makes your cap problem worse in later years. Sooner or later you have to pay the piper for bad contracts. That is why I would never do it unless I was pretty sure it would lead to participating in a super bowl.

          • Jim Harper

            Thanks for clarifying Jim. That makes more sense.

  • tm1946

    Just heard Houston is working details on a trade of their QB (Schaub?) to Oakland. Supposedly they want on the college kids, Manzel.
    No idea how this will effect Oakland and future seasons. Sorry about the names but if they are not wearing a Chiefs helmet, do not care all that much.

  • berttheclock

    Of course, many of us forget the importance of signing the best player in free agency. Why, just look at Denver, where, after signing Ware, the Lombardi Trophy has been Fed Exed to the Broncos. Very much akin to a major college signing up the best player coming out of high school. Even though, that player will be a One and Done type, the team automatically has the Wooden NCAA Basketball Trophy sent to them. Duke inked Jabari Parker and the playing of their NCAA tournament became moot. Just love the very recent photos of both Parker and Coach K proudly holding up that trophy.

    • berttheclock

      If anyone out there has tried to drive in Seattle, they will be aware of a huge traffic problem which exists there referred to as ‘The Mercer Mess”. Now, in the State of North Carolina, they have their own “Mercer Mess”.

  • mnelson52

    Couldn’t they give them both the same amount of money or even a little less this year than what’s on their contract but give them big signing bonuses so they are still paid very well for this year and beyond? Just wondering. Not sure how that all works, but that might free up some more money.

  • jimfromkcj

    I have always been an advocate of extending contracts to those who seem to be trending upward. I think Pioli could have locked Carr and Albert in for a few years if he had tried harder to extend them. As I am an advocate for extensions, I am just as strong and adamant against reworking contracts and shoving a problem off for the future. What I have against Dorsey is the Bowe contract. It is very bad and will be bad for a couple of years as it is cheaper cap wise to keep him than to cut or trade him. What he should have done is franchise him and if he shows up out of shape and not ready to give his all you can either cut him or trade him next year.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Yeah, so far that’s pretty much my only knock against him too. In general I’ve been very pleased with what he’s been able to get done and how he approaches building the team. Make enough small FA moves that there are no glaring holes on your roster and go into the draft with an open hand to play. This time of year, there is only so much for a fan to get excited about if your team isn’t aggressive in free agency, but franchises like Green Bay and Pittsburg almost never sign any high-priced free agents. They live within their means, develop from within and stick to their identity. I don’t think anyone can argue with their success.

  • Stan Colbert

    If I was Houston’s agent I would be ready to grab his hand if he decided to sign!! With the salary cap expected to rise again next year he should earn a fortune!!

  • Jim Harper

    It was very easy for me to see why we did not get our own FA’s signed this year as Nick has so clearly stated. But Alex Smith and Justine Houston are very different players in terms of their importance to the organization and they MUST get taken care of, and even though they do not have to be done now it is in everyones best interests to get the deal done now because I guarantee if we wait until the last minute everyone will be sorry.

  • Natasha Sims

    Game of Thrones’ing the intro. NICE.

  • bill_lee2

    So Cutler just restructured for 17mil a year and 55mil guaranteed. I think it’s hilarious that these sites think he will take less than his current contract. Smith will want 12 to 15 per year easy, and he should probably get it. That’s what the market is paying.