We’re exactly one week away from the official start to the new league year (March 10),..."/> We’re exactly one week away from the official start to the new league year (March 10),..."/>

Things To Keep In Mind As Free Agency Approaches For The Kansas City Chiefs


We’re exactly one week away from the official start to the new league year (March 10), and with that, the open free agency period. Things are about to get crazy around the NFL. Hope springs eternal in March. Every fan creates their own FA strategy for the franchises they follow. Sports bloggers ruminate on what head coaches and general managers are thinking. NFL pundits even predict where pending free agents will land. It’s a very special time for us all.

Just as the excitement is inevitable, so too are a few ideas that routinely seem to be impervious to truths about the free agency process. Today, I’ve owned my civic duty to dispel some of those misconceptions. It’s my job to better equip you for watercooler conversations over the next four weeks. There’s work to be done, so let’s get down to brass tacks!

A successful negotiation requires both front office AND player flexibility. 

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

How many times have you heard it suggested that a team re-sign a player slated to hit the open market no matter the asking price? I almost get the inclination to throw solid rationale out the door when a player like Justin Houston has an expiring contract. I understand, but it’s still unreasonable to think teams aren’t constrained by what can they spend to re-sign their own talent. The salary cap is flexible, but still plays a significant role in deciding which players a team can keep. Mortaging the future to overpay one player hurts a team’s chances at retaining other talent down the road. Teams routinely overspend to acquire players on the open market and that reality tends to color expectations when it comes to extending a player already under contract. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had this to say recently about the possibility of re-signing wide receiver Torrey Smith:

"The difference between what we can pay Torrey and what he gets on the open market, umm, Mike Wallace got $10 million. I don’t think anyone thinks that was a good deal. And so there is always a team that has lots of money that wants to bring in playmakers and those guys are going to get those deals."

The more a roster improves, the more likely a team is to lose key players.

Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a good chance that the Chiefs will part ways with Dwayne Bowe or Tamba Hali in 2015. Truth be told, it’s possible they’ll both play for new teams next season. The pair is slated to occupy nearly $26 million in cap space this year. John Dorsey may approach each of them to either re-structure or re-negotiate their deals, but it’s unknown how the pair might respond to such a request. Now may be as good a time as any now that neither of them are playing at a level commensurate with their cap hits.

With contract situations looming for Rodney Hudson and Justin Houston, I think it’s inevitable that the Chiefs will move on from one or more of those four aforementioned players. I addressed this very issue about 11 months ago before the start of free agency in 2014. As the talent pool rises in an organization, certain players are inevitably going to be displaced. The more talent a team has, the less likely it is that said franchise can retain the rights to all of those players. Chiefs Kingdom can attest to this reality after seeing Kansas City lose three-fifths of its offensive line in the first 90 minutes of free agency just last year. The contracts of today affect the cap situation of tomorrow (Dontari Poe and Eric Berry are both in line for extensions in 2016).

Relying upon drafted players/bottom-tier FA’s to replace vets with expiring contracts can backfire.

Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

If the “pay him whatever he wants” contingent is on the far left side of the spectrum, the “let him walk if he won’t be reasonable” bunch is on the opposite end. Every year fans sour on players seeking to maximize their market value in free agency. Many of them will say that players, even the elite ones, are nothing more than interchangeable parts. The offensive line situation in Kansas City last season is the perfect counterpoint to that argument. It’s a gamble to allow known quantities to hit the open market because there are young — albeit talented — players waiting in the wings.

Sure, Eric Kush has been in the system for the past two seasons, but there’s no good way to know that he can pick up the slack left by the departure of Rodney Hudson. Can an already inexperienced offensive line afford to get even younger? The Chiefs recently used the non-exclusive tag to secure Justin Houston for the new league year, but if a suitor steps forward willing to pay a king’s ransom (his new contract and twin R1 draft picks) is the team really better off with Dee Ford and soon-to-be 32-year old Tamba Hali at outside linebacker? That’s something Dorsey and company should think long and hard about.

The next few weeks should be quite a ride for members of the Kingdom. I’d love to hear what your expectations of the front office are and how you think the week leading up to the new league year will play out. Use the comments section below to begin the discussion. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!