The Chiefs, 10 Days Into Free Agency

The 10th day of NFL free agency was Thursday and the pace of signings has slowed considerably from a week ago in the days of league teams spending big money.

Other than the Emmanuel Sanders Affair, the Chiefs have been very quiet in free agency. That should not come as a surprise to anyone that listened to general manager John Dorsey or head coach Andy Reid in the 15 months they’ve been in the building. Dorsey made it plain again earlier this week: “We’re going to be selective in free agency and we’re going to build a foundation through the draft; that’s kind of how we’re going to do this thing.”

GM John Dorsey with team chairman Clark Hunt (left).

So how efficient and productive have the Chiefs been in improving their roster through 10 days of free agency? They may have been efficient with their deals and managing the salary cap, but it’s hard to call what the Chiefs have done productive in their signing six free agents, while losing eight others. It’s hard to see where they’ve made significant improvement in their level of playing talent.

Here’s a recap of what has happened so far, including the money for each contract and this year’s salary cap number for players still on the roster and those that left the building. Contract numbers are cap projections were obtained from multiple sources:


  • S Husain Abdullah (retained): 2 years, $2,225,000; $750,000 signing bonus; 2014 salary cap # = $1,130,000.
  • DT Cory Grissom (released by New England): 1-year, $495,000; 2014 salary cap # = $495,000.
  • G-T Jeff Linkenbach (Indianapolis): 1-year, $900,000; $150,000 bonus; 2014 salary cap # = $900,000.
  • ILB Joe Mays (Houston): 2 years, $6,000,000; $2,000,000 signing bonus; $920,000 other bonuses; 2014 salary cap # = $1,968,750.
  • DE Vance Walker (Oakland): 3 years, $10,020,000; $3,000,000 signing bonus; $170,000 in other bonuses; 2014 salary cap # = $1,750,000.
  • OLB Frank Zombo (retained): 2 years, $1,625,000; $100,000 signing bonus; $50,000 other bonus; 2014 salary cap # = $805,000.

Salary cap total = $7,048,750.

The Chiefs have negotiated around their lack of room under the salary cap and did it without using much in the way of cash. If Mays is not productive, they can release him after the season and the dead money on the cap would be just $1 million. Walker’s deal has a minimal cap effect this year compared to the last two seasons on the deal.

Essentially they have replaced their 2013 starting inside linebacker and defensive end with Mays and Walker. They kept Abdullah at safety, certainly the best option among the three safeties that became free agents. Quintin Demps departed for the Giants and Kendrick Lewis remains unsigned

So far the Chiefs efforts in free agency have replaced a couple of lost players. It’s hard to conjure up an image of an improved roster at this point. Dorsey said this week “there are still a lot of players out there. We’re going to find some players to help us move forward.”

The Chiefs feel they’ve improved their depth with the players they’ve signed, but that’s hard to see at this point. Mays and Walker should be starters. With the possible exception of Abdullah at free safety, the other free agents signed are unlikely starters. It’s hard to see how any of them might push established starters.


  • LT Branden Albert (Miami): 5 years, $47,000,000; $8,500,000 signing bonus; $125,000 in other bonuses; 2014 salary cap # = $4,225,000.
  • G Jon Asamoah (Atlanta): 5 years, $22,500,000; $4,000,000 signing bonus; 2014 salary cap # = $2,800,000.
  • S Quintin Demps (NY Giants): 1-year, $1,000,000; $100,000 signing bonus; $170,000 in other bonuses; salary cap # = $1,000,000.
  • DE Tyson Jackson (Atlanta): 5 years, $25,000,000; $8,000,000 signing bonus; $2,000,000 in other bonuses; 2014 salary cap # = $3,100,000.
  • ILB Akeem Jordan (Washington): 1-year, $920,000; $65,000 signing bonus; 2014 salary cap # = $570,000. (Jordan signed a qualifying contract; he’ll be paid $855,000 in base salary. That’s the minimum for a player of his experience. But he will count only $570,000, the minimum for a 2-year player, on the Redskins cap.)
  • WR Dexter McCluster (Tennessee): 3 years, $9,000,000; $3,000,000 signing bonus; $425,000 other bonuses; 2014 salary cap # = $2,050,000.
  • DT Jerrell Powe (Houston): 1-year, $645,000; 2014 salary cap # = $645,000.
  • G-T Geoff Schwartz (NY Giants): 4 years, $16,800,000; $3,200,000 signing bonus; $575,000 in other bonuses; 2014 salary cap # = $2,325,000.

Salary cap total = $16,715,000

Albert, Asamoah and Jackson’s deals were not in the ballpark of what the Chiefs were looking to spend on those three players. They knew early that Albert was going to be gone and how badly that decision hurts the team can be judged by how many hits quarterback Alex Smith takes during the coming season and whether he remains upright in the pocket.

The surprise was the money Jackson and Asamoah got. Overall their deals with the Falcons were just short of $48 million on paper. But those deals have outs for Atlanta that basically make Jackson’s agreement two years for $11.750 million and Asamoah’s deal falls to a three-year deal for $13 million. Considering the production of both players last season, they are overpaid, but they can credit Scott Pioli for that in Atlanta. Still, they are both young enough that there could be improvement in their production. Neither loss badly hurts the Chiefs.

The same can’t be said for losing Schwartz, who ended up being underpaid last year for his performance, as he counted $700,000 against the 2013 Chiefs cap. If he would have taken the same deal from the Chiefs that he got in New York, he would count $2.325 million on the cap. Schwartz would rank No. 17 on the Chiefs right now in cap money for the coming season and he would be the second highest blocker, behind last year’s No. 1 choice, OT Eric Fisher at $5,043,295 in cap charges.

The concern within the Chiefs has to be with the offensive line. Right now the bodies remaining on the roster that were with the team last year count less than a combined $10 million under the cap for the coming season ($9,829,023). That’s less than 8 percent of the cap for seven key positions – five starters and two backups.

Remaining unrestricted free agents from Chiefs 2013 roster

  • FS Kendrick Lewis: as a five-year veteran going into the 2014 season, Lewis would have to make the minimum $730,000 in base salary on any deal with any team.
  • WR Kyle Williams: is coming off the torn ACL in his knee that he suffered in his brief time with the Chiefs back in November. He’s going into his fifth season and would need to be paid the minimum of $730,000.

Right now according to the NFL Players Association, the Chiefs have 72 players under contract and have $4,822,069 left under the salary cap for the coming season.

What maneuvering room they have with the cap, Dorsey and he crew will have to find ways to improve the roster and not just replace those players that departed Arrowhead.

10 Responses to “The Chiefs, 10 Days Into Free Agency”

  • March 21, 2014  - COCHIEF says:

    So far, based on player quality, worse off than before. Salary cap is a bitch!

  • March 21, 2014  - Tenand6 says:

    At this point in time I see a need for at least 4 quality players who did not start last year for this team:

    Return specialist

    A trade down might help get that done and there are players that will be released.

    The margin of error is quite small.

  • March 21, 2014  - Dio says:

    I don’t get why we didn’t just sign Jordan instead of Joe Mays. According to PFF, both players are mediocre but at least Jordan was one of the team’s best special teams players. Mays is costing the team about $1.4 million more in cap space this year. Plus, Mays will cost us another $1 million in dead cap money next season as I doubt they’ll keep a two-down linebacker at a $4 million cap charge. We could have used that cap space elsewhere, like keeping Asamoah or Schwartz.

  • March 21, 2014  - R W says:

    Slim pickings from this point forward in the FA market with maybe a few exceptions. If Dorsey continues to play a pat hand going into the draft, one would have to like their chances of looking for a trade-down partner for additional picks in what many are calling the deepest and best draft in many a moon.

    That said, I’m beginning to see an OL taken high in their draft, perhaps with the top pick. Losing 3 OL in FA who will probably all start for another team cannot be overlooked or denied. If indeed a OL is taken with the premium pick then we’re looking at a step back from the 2013 success?

    I’d be curious to know what thinking went into letting 3 OL get away when we all know the importance of the Oline as it relates to protection and opening holes for the RBs. Right now I see OL as the Chiefs top draft priority. That could change but the current guys being penciled in as starters for 2014 don’t give me a high degree of confidence.

  • March 21, 2014  - David says:

    The operative words: “so far”. In Dorsey, I trust.

  • March 21, 2014  - Ernie Barney says:

    Hmmm, wonder what Alex thinks of the OL losses and how that might, if at all, be impacting his negotiations???

  • March 21, 2014  - R W says:

    Dio, good points made and noted.

  • March 21, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    While I too trust in Dorsey…..
    I agree with Dio. Why not keep Jordan, who from my seats did a very good job on running downs and special teams, for much less cost than Mays?
    I’m very ok with Dorsey waiting things out to see good deals out there. I could see him waiting until after the draft. Especially with their best player available philosophy.
    I think the San Diego game at the end of the year gave Dorsey and Reid a true look at a lot of players that a pre-season game never could provide.
    That may be why they are pushing any panic buttons.
    Bob- one thing missing from your free agent additions are the 2 early signings of McKnight and Dressler.

  • March 21, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    I meant aren’t pushing panic buttons.
    Chiefs signed Atlanta CB – Chris Owens. Any idea on him Bob?

  • March 21, 2014  - ChuckXX says:

    WOW, Great Article Bob. You are really “educating” us guys that didn’t realize how challenging it must be to get these guys signed to numbers that make sense. When I look thru it all I can say is there’s alot of guys getting “WAY OVERPAID” when you look at the true Production they give you. Guys like Zombo, Abdullah, Mays-2 Million dollar signing bonus-Are you kidding me??? Vance Walker-3 Million dollar signing bonus-Iam in the wrong business!!!!! These guys are waaaaay Overpaid for what they are going to give the team. We will be lucky to do 500 this year in my opinion. And as far as “building thru the draft” No 2nd rounder, Kelce injured, Nico Johnson rarely say the field, Sanders Commings injured, Kush rarely saw the field, Wilson-cut-didn’t even make team, Catapano saw very little action- hows that working out for you Dorsey??????

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