Fixing the Defensive Backfield
With what looks like the imminent re-signing of Safety Eric Berry and the possible re-signing of Safety Tyvon Branch the major question becomes who will be the starter opposite Marcus Peters at cornerback?
Cornerback Sean Smith completed 2015 with mixed reviews. He’s still a very good corner mind you, but he certainly has his detractors. In the playoff loss to the Patriots, Sean Smith wasn’t just the highest rated defensive back for the Chiefs at +2.5… he was the highest rated Chief in the whole game according to ProFootballFocus. Worth saving if possible? Yes. But, how?
To truly make the defensive backfield a priority this offseason, the Chiefs must pass on players like Jaye Howard and either re-sign Sean Smith or… it looks like their best bet would be to franchise tag him because if Smith is looking for a large payday (and I understand he is), that’s something the Chiefs won’t be able to afford. If they tag him, they will be paying out the maximum amount for a corner (13.952M), which may not be the best move overall, considering all their other team needs.
That’s why if they go with Smith in any way… they will probably not be able to make a move for Howard. In which case, under the re-sign Sean Smith scenario, the Chiefs would have to go with a top DT in the draft. Note: tagging Sean Smith is now not an option since the Chiefs used their franchise tag earlier this week on Safety Eric Berry. In the draft the Chiefs will have a shot at cornerbacks: Eli Apple, Kendall Fuller, Jalen Mills, William Jackson III or Artie Burns. However, none of them will be as good as Sean Smith in their first season which is problematic if the team is planning on a championship run in 2016.
Fixing the Cap
According to Sportrac.com the Chiefs current cap situation looks like this:
Some fans have suggested that Justin Houston’s 2016 base salary of 14.9M is too much and the Chiefs should either get rid of him or ask him to take a reduction. Since ink on Justin Houston”s contract isn’t even dry from last year, the chances of that happening are nil and the chances of the team dumping him and going another route are even less likely.
Other top paid players the Chiefs could ask to restructure include Alex Smith who is making 14.1M base salary but the deal he’s on is actually a pretty good deal so asking him to restructure at all would not be wise and only risk upsetting the centerpiece of the offense.
Next in line of top salaries is Jeremy Maclin with a 9.75M base in 2016. Considering what JMac added to the offense, he’s deal is just that, a deal and a very good one at that. No chance of restructuring there.
Ben Grubbs base is 4,8M but the only option with him appears to be cutting him which would leave the team with 5.2M in dead money and only 1.1M of cap savings.
Some fans want to cut or trade Jamaal Charles. JC’s base this year is 2.75M and while his cap saving in the case he’s cut is 5.3M, it’s hard to see the Chiefs giving up on Charles in any event.
The only realistic savings I can see to the cap right now would be cutting ties with OL Paul Fanaika and then that would create just under 1M ($9,666,666) in extra cap space.
For now, it looks like Kansas City is stuck with their estimated cap space of 32.7M.
Next: Is There a Way to Fix the Draft?