I’m going to (hopefully) go over all 32 teams rosters and potential cap moves over the next few weeks. We’ll start things off with the Kansas City Chiefs, who own the number 1 pick in the draft. The Chiefs had a miserable season in 2012. Pro Football Focus ranked them to have the 20th ranked offense and 27th ranked offense, Football Outsiders ranked them 31st on offense and 30th on Defense, and in my own efficiency rankings they were 32nd in scoring and 25th in defense. So they need significant overhaul.
Surprisingly the Chiefs have a high cap payroll on the books in 2013. My estimates have their top 51 at just under $120 million plus nearly $3 million in dead money. The team does have significant money to carry over from 2012 that will give them more than enough cushion once free agency begins, but as of today their cap number is going to be closer to $12 or $13 million once things get underway, so clearly they have some housecleaning to do.
The biggest dead weight on the roster is Tyson Jackson, who carries a base salary of $14.72 million despite a grand total of 3 sacks in 2012 and only 5 in his career. Releasing Jackson, who took a $3.75 million dollar paycut last season, would create $14.97 million in cap room, which moves them from average to near top of the market in spending dollars. Jackson should be as good as gone.
The other possible release would be QB Matt Cassel who turned a fluky 2008 cameo for the Patriots into a $48 million dollar contract from the Chiefs. Cassel is extremely mistake prone and both sides would probably benefit from a change of scenery. Releasing Cassel saves the team $7.75 million in cash and $5.875 million in cap space.
Notable Free Agents
The Chiefs have two free agents that will draw interest around the NFL. LT Branden Albert is one of the better tackles in the NFL and wants to be paid top 5 money. Is that reasonable? Probably. I think you can compare Albert to someone like Jordan Gross of the Panthers or Duane Brown of the Texans, both of whom are in the upper echelon of salary. I dont think Albert will reach the $10 million a year club that the Jets D’Brickashaw Ferguson snuck into a few years ago, but he should settle in that $9.5-$9.75 million a year range which will probably earn him $25 million in guarantees. It is a move the Chiefs should stronly consider making.
The teams other free agent is WR Dwayne Bowe who played last season on the franchise tag. Franchising Bowe again would cost the team $11.418 million in 2013 and that is not really an option for a team with no Quarterback. Bowe is looking for premier money on a long term deal and the Chiefs will probably be best suited to let him accept an offer from another club while they rebuild the more important positions on the team.
The Chiefs have 7 picks thus far in the upcoming draft. Below you will find my estimates for the cost of the draft picks. The signing bonus money is typically going to be cash needed this season to sign their players this year.
|Pick||Signing Bonus||2013 Cap||2014Cap||2015Cap||2016Cap||Total|
For the Chiefs to get the fast turnaround they really need to hit in this years draft to begin that roster overhaul. The class will take up a nice little chunk of cap room, but if they can find one or two stars from the group it will give the team significant financial flexibility to make other moves.
With 10 players set to be unrestricted or restricted free agents in 2014 this could be a year where the Chiefs sit on some cap room while they get a better handle on their needs and then try to have a more impactful free agent season in 2015. I would think its in their best interests to re-sign Albert this year and look for a stopgap QB to hold the fort while they develop their roster, see what they get out of this years rookies, and then plan to make a splash two years from now.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.