You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that Paul Fanaika is still on Kansas City Chiefs roster. Fanaika was signed to a three-year, $6.5 million contract in the 2015 offseason and was immediately met with some criticism from fans.
Although he started 30 games in his previous two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Fanaika had a PFF grade of -20.9 for the 2014 season which was one of the worst among free agent guards that year. For a team that didn’t have a lot of cap space last season it seemed like too much to dedicate to a player who was considered a fringe starter at best.
This proved to be the case as Fanaika spent a majority of training camp with the second-team. Fanaika also saw the majority of his playing time in the preseason coming at the right tackle position when injuries to Eric Fisher and Jeff Allen forced some shuffling along the line. The experiment would end up being short-lived as Fanaika was placed on injured reserve before the start of the regular season.
Until an update came out from the team in March on the status of multiple injured players I hadn’t even considered him a part of the team’s future plans. Fanaika had surgery on his lower back in September and passed a physical after the season ended to clear him for offseason activities. For a team that needed to (and did) allocate a lot of their cap room to keeping core players there were going to be cuts needed in order to free up some space, with Fanaika seeming to be a likely candidate.
His 2016 salary cap number is $2.13M with a dead cap charge of $1.17M (Spotrac.com) and while that would only free up less than $1M, every dollar counts in the NFL.
So for a guy who’s only first-team snaps in the pre-season came as a result of multiple injuries and having to play out of position, why is he still with the team?
Next: A closer look