Getting real about the Chiefs situation


The Kansas City Chiefs are not going to make the playoffs in 2015. In fact, they are likely headed for a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft this coming spring.

Kansas City was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, but instead has wilted. A horrifying loss against the Denver Broncos in Week 2 seemed to irrevocably changed this team, something that is a bit disturbing on many levels. The Chiefs are now left with a bad team, a talented roster and a boatload of key questions.

Going into the offseason, these are the free agents for general manager John Dorsey to make decisions on, per Spotrac:

The big names are mostly at the top, in Eric Berry, Sean Smith, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Mike DeVito. The other ones would be Husain Abdullah and Jaye Howard. Notice anything about those seven names? None of them play on offense.

For better or worse, the offensive personnel is largely set except for three positions. The left tackle and right guard spots are up for grabs, along with a second receiver. At this point, it is nauseating to imagine Albert Wilson starting again, along with Zach Fulton/Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Donald Stephenson. Considering Stephenson and Jeff Allen are free agents, expect them to hit the bricks.

So who does Dorsey retain? Let’s start with this 2016 cap table, per (great, great site).

Considering the Chief already have 39 players locked up, only 12 more will count against the salary cap. Add another five or six players from the draft class, and that’s about $5 million in cap space. The Chiefs would need to lock up six or seven players, and have about $30 million to do it with.

It’s unfathomable to think Berry won’t be locked up long-term. He’s a great player and has the heart of a champion. If you don’t want to build around him, something is seriously wrong. DeVito and Hali will be moving on. Both are 31 years old, and Hali is clearly done.

The main question marks are Howard, Abdullah, Smith and Johnson. Johnson, 32, is not likely to draw a huge contract between the position he plays and his age. He is also a team leader and is pacing the team in tackles with 34, only a year removed from tearing his Achilles. Smith is a terrific corner, but his price will be high. He could be looking for a Byron Maxwell contract. My guess? Dorsey is only going to go so high on this. I believe the Chiefs would love to retain him and have a pair of Smith and Marcus Peters for the foreseeable future. Abdullah is a nice, versatile piece, I believe he stays.

The wild card is Howard. Can Dorsey lock him up before the 335-pound monster hits the market? A line of Howard, Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe figures to be one of the best in the NFL.

Kansas City does not have room for everybody, but it can do what needs to get done. If Dorsey wants to sign Smith, Berry, Howard, Johnson and Abdullah, he can do it.