Since the Super Bowl ended, several Kansas City Chiefs players have been involved in moves around the league. The impact of those moves is yet to be seen, but will likely play a role in the upcoming NFL draft (only 52 days away!). Below is a quick look at some of the moves and what they might mean going forward. I have ranked them from best to worst in terms of how they will help the Chiefs:
- Justin Houston franchise tag:
The biggest news this offseason was of course the non-exclusive franchise tag that the Chiefs placed on Justin Houston. The non-exclusive tag means that Houston is free to negotiate with other teams and the Chiefs are allowed to match any offer he receives or receive two first round draft picks in return. It was a curious move by the Chiefs since they are currently over the salary cap and the franchise tag will cost around $13 million. The Chiefs absolutely needed to lock Houston up for the future since he plays a key role in their defense, and while the franchise tag likely means he is staying in KC, it will be interesting to see what happens the next several months. They have until July 15 to agree on a long-term contract.
- Jeremy Maclin signing:
The Chiefs desperately needed a WR who could stretch the field and they got their man in Jeremy Maclin from the Eagles. Maclin finished 2014 with 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 TD’s. He can’t sign a contract until Tuesday, so we do not know the terms of the expected deal (current reports suggest it will average $11 million per season), but since the Chiefs are currently over the salary cap, this deal means that other contracts need to be re-structured and/or other players will be cut (looking at you Dwayne Bowe).
- Mays, Walker, Fasano, Avery, and Jenkins cut:
Joe Mays and Vance Walker did not play to their expectations and were released to save some money. Anthony Fasano has had a decent two years in KC (averaging 24 receptions, 213 yards and 3 touchdowns per season) but the Chiefs are clearly trying to save money and let Travis Kelce become a star. This move indicates that the Chiefs like Demetrius Harris (or one of the other TE’s on the roster), but I would not be surprised if they target a TE in the draft. Donnie Avery and AJ Jenkins basically did not provide any meaningful contributions in 2014 and were probably cut more in an effort to overhaul the receiver position rather than merely to save money. Now that Maclin is signed and Junior Hemingway was offered a 1-year deal, I expect the Chiefs to cut Bowe and draft a WR or two, and also to involve De’Anthony Thomas more in the passing game in 2015.
- Tamba Hali restructuring contract:
Hali agreed to restructure his contract after coming off the second worst season of his career. He would likely have earned a solid paycheck if he were released but the Chiefs need him as insurance in case Justin Houston signs elsewhere and Dee Ford does not develop quickly enough. Hopefully, restructuring his contract gives the Chiefs much more room to afford Maclin and Houston.
- Rodney Hudson signing with Oakland:
Hudson was regarded as the best center and one of the best OL on the free agent market. The Chiefs were rumored to be pushing hard to re-sign him but could not afford the $9 million/year ($44.5 million total) that Oakland threw at him. After losing Branden Albert two years ago to the Dolphins, and suffering through a long season in 2014 with terrible offensive line play, this move stings a little. The Chiefs need to develop some consistency at the line of scrimmage to help out Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith, and they currently have little NFL-ready talent to work with. This move may mean the Chiefs will select several linemen in the later rounds, or hope that Donald Stephenson, Zach Fulton, Jeff Allen, Eric Fisher, and Eric Kush can play better without Hudson, who was their best lineman in 2014.
Other moves are likely coming, which might include restructuring Alex Smith’s or Eric Berry’s contract, and no one knows what will happen with Dwayne Bowe and Ron Parker. The next several hours will be pretty intense but no matter what happens, Go Chiefs!