Kansas City Chiefs Salary Cap: Hitting The Magical $30 Million Number

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Dec 8, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball in front of Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito (70) in the first quarter at FedEx Field. The Chiefs won 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The achilles men pose a problem for the Chiefs.

Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson are now up and mobile after suffering ruptured achilles in week one of the season. Andy Reid said on Monday he currently expects both players to be ready for OTA’s in the spring, which is encouraging news.

The problem here isn’t just their return date but what their effectiveness will be when they do come back. DeVito is strictly a run-stuffing linemen, which happens to be something the Chiefs need. But how effective will he be when comes back? How many quality snaps can be squeezed out of him knowing that some of his quickness and strength is going to be gone from where he was prior to the injury.

Now consider these two things with DeVito: 1. His cap number is $5.4 million (8th highest on the team) and the Chiefs will likely have 11 draft picks in the upcoming draft. Is saving the cap space and spending a draft pick on a young defensive lineman a better bet than gambling on DeVito for one season?

Between Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, and Jaye Howard, the Chiefs have a decent core of linemen to work with. There’s a chance Kansas City could bring back Kevin Vickerson on the cheap for one more year, and Mike Catapano could be back next season assuming his health issues are cleared up. The Chiefs are already in the market for a backup nose guard and could use three-down defensive end. Considering the depth of this year’s draft is on the edge, it may make more sense for the Chiefs to save DeVito’s cap space, draft a defensive end, and use some of the savings on a nose guard upgrade. Hell, at 11 picks the Chiefs could just draft two defensive linemen and take advantage of the depth that’s there.

Cutting DeVito would save $4 million off of his current $5.4 million cap hit.

Then there is the Derrick Johnson problem.

DJ is obviously a huge fan favorite who will one day see his name on the Arrowhead Stadium Ring of Honor. He’s still a few tackles away from the franchise record. Having him back would be wonderful.

The issues is the achilles, his contract, and his age. DJ’s game is built on quickness and athleticism, something that’s bound to take a hit as he recovers from his ruptured achilles. Expecting Johnson to be the same guy as he was before his injury isn’t fair to him, and it wouldn’t wise of Dorsey to assume Johnson will be the same guy.

Reality is the Chiefs would probably be looking for his replacement this offseason even if Johnson didn’t get hurt. DJ will turn 33 midway through next season and is on the final year of his contract. His time in Kansas City is coming to end sooner than later, and while it may not be this year, it is something that has to be considered.

I don’t think KC will ultimately part ways with Johnson this year, but it shouldn’t be a surprise if his name comes up as a guy who receives a contract restructure. Cutting DJ would save the Chiefs $5.25 million in cap space if they cut him. $1 million of that comes in the form of a roster bonus so a decision needs to be made quickly.

Assuming the Chiefs just cut DeVito, Kansas City would save $4 million in cap space which would increase their total cap savings to: