Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
February has arrived and the Super Bowl has been completed, which means the work for all 32 NFL teams has begun to prepare for the new league year that begins March 10. The Kansas City Chiefs salary cap situation is at the top of the list of priorities before they can start to answer the hard questions about Justin Houston, Rodney Hudson, and rebuilding the weak spots of the roster.
In other words: The next month is going to take Chiefs fans on a crazy ride.
Trying to pinpoint where the Chiefs are when it comes to the salary cap is a bit complicated and depends on the sources one chooses to use. Here’s the basics of what we know.
The NFL has yet to finalize what the salary cap will be for the 2015 season, but we can say fairly safely it will not be lower than $142 million. This represents about a $10 million increase from the 2014 season which is of benefit for the Chiefs. Any increase to the number only helps the Chiefs out when it comes to trying to make some difficult decisions on roster cuts and pending free agents.
We also know the Chiefs about about $2,246,790 million in leftover space from 2014 that they are allowed to carry over as a one-time increase to their 2015 salary cap number. This means the Chiefs’ 2015 salary cap will be $144,246,790.
During the offseason the league operates under the 51-man rule, which means only the top 51 contracts are counted against the cap. This is how teams can have a 90-man offseason roster (the maximum allowed) and still be under the salary cap. The Chiefs’ current 51-man roster carries a $140,559,105 salary cap hit.
So, assuming the Chiefs decided to carry over their extra space from 2014, the Chiefs are an estimated $3,687,685 under the salary cap.
This is where things get dicy. Some sources won’t include the salary cap carryover because it is not required for any time to carry over the prior year’s empty space. Additionally, it is not require to carry over all of the leftover space. There’s problem one.
Problem two includes the draft pool. Each team must carve out a certain amount of money for their draft class. The draft pool number is directly related to the number of draft picks a team has and the overall number of the selection. For example, the 18th overall pick in the draft has a locked in cap number associated to it, and that number is added to slot money associated to the rest of the team’s draft pick selections.
We don’t know what those slot numbers are thus we do not know how much money the Chiefs need to have cleared out for the draft.
Our next problem is the salary cap numbers for each individual player already on the roster. The salary cap numbers for each player are estimates based on news reports so it is possible the cap number associated with Dwayne Bowe may be a little bit higher or a little bit lower than what has been reported in the media.
Finally, when reports come out about the salary cap space for individual teams we don’t know whether they are referencing the roster salary cap space or the cash salary cap space. These are two different numbers that are calculated differently. And because we don’t have the exact numbers to work with, only estimates, it makes getting the actual salary cap number difficult.
This doesn’t mean we can’t make an educated guess on where the Chiefs are wither their salary cap space, and it doesn’t mean there are some logical things we an infer about the salary cap number we come up with after we’ve done our research.
Whether the Chiefs are $2 million over the cap, $1.7 million over the cap, or $3 million under the cap, we can all come to the same conclusion that the Chiefs are going to have to make some roster moves in order to comply with the cap, leave space for a draft class, and open up some space to sign our own and other free agents.
So what does that path likely look like for the Chiefs? Let’s dissect.
Next: First Round Of Cuts