Chief concern: Another deal just around the “corner”

1 of 3

Six days ago, crisis was averted by the Kansas City Chiefs’ front office when star outside linebacker Justin Houston was re-signed to a six-year, $101 million contract. The move reduced Houston’s 2015 cap hit to $5.1 million and left the Chiefs with nearly $9 million of available cap space. Within 24 hours, fans across the Chiefs’ blogosphere had a half-dozen ideas about how general manager John Dorsey should spend those cap dollars. Some suggested the Chiefs make a play for former Philadelphia guard Evan Mathis. Others cited Reggie Wayne, Jermaine Gresham, and James Jones as the best free agent values on the market.

Dorsey himself said the newfound flexibility could be used to extend other Chiefs’ players already under contract. Eric Berry, Sean Smith, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Jeff Allen are all slated to become free agents after the 2015 season. There might be room enough for an extension and an acquisition, but today I’ll argue that extending top roster talent should be Dorsey’s priority. In fact, I have a specific player in mind — cornerback Sean Smith.

Dontari Poe’s been proposed as the player Dorsey should next turn his attention to, but I respectfully disagree with that idea. The Chiefs exercised Poe’s fifth-year option in late April. He’s secure in Kansas City for the next two seasons. I’m always in favor of extending players early — where possible — but Poe’s situation is hardly a pressing matter. The fourth-year defensive tackle out of Memphis will be under team control until at least the spring of 2017. They’ll have the option to retain him for the 2017 season should they decide to designate him as the team’s franchise player (more on that later). In my humble opinion, his extension can wait.

Defensive stalwarts Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are both nearing the end of their NFL careers, but the linebacker tandem is invaluable to the franchise. It’s hard to imagine either of them finishing their careers elsewhere, but professional football is a tough business that calls for even tougher personnel decisions on occasion.

The team made a first-round investment into Dee Ford in 2014 and they have high hopes that he can succeed Hali. He’s still green, but at some point the franchise will have to look to the future (Hali turns 32 in November). Johnson also has a birthday in November (he turns 33 the same day as the Chiefs’ Week 11 tilt with the San Diego Chargers). He’s also returning from an Achilles’ injury and it’s still undetermined how it will affect his game at this stage of his career. Draftees Ramik Wilson and D.J. Alexander are only developmental prospects today, but both are being groomed to replace him sooner rather than later.

It’s still uncertain how three-time Pro Bowler Eric Berry will figure into the team’s future. Reports about his bout with Hodgkin’s lymphoma have been favorable, but it’s still unknown when he’ll return to football. I’d venture to guess the team has a plan in place for retaining his services, but so much of that will depend on what happens in the 2015 season. The decision on Berry will likely be tabled until more detailed information comes available.

Next: Who would Reach re-sign?