With the Colts loss as a mere memory, the Kansas City Chiefs draft is in full swing. Beginning the 2014 season on an especially high note after the last season’s wild successes, Kansas City has a slightly higher salary cap than 2013’s, and the draft should benefit as a result.
The team has settled on about $126.3 million to be distributed among the top 51 players for the 2014 season. However, the team had $2.5 million from the previous season that can be applied as well. Unfortunately, the Chiefs salary cap hardly compares to other elite teams in the league, and finding key talent for the next season will be a struggle.
The Chiefs restructured the contacts of Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, and Brandon Flowers to save money for new players. While they’ll still receive significant payment from the team, altering the three players’ contracts was a smart move for freeing up money for new draft picks. The team may also extend quarterback Alex Smith’s contract, a somewhat controversial choice, and cut cornerback Dunta Robinson.
As far as the draft is concerned, replacing the cornerback position will be a priority. While Brandon Flowers does fine in the position, finding a good replacement for Dunta Robinson is crucial. ESPN analyst Louis Riddick has pointed out that the Chiefs lack significant speed at the corner, and this should change in the upcoming draft. While the team would save $3 million after cutting Robinson, cutting another player might be necessary to have sufficient available salary for quality in the position.
Finding another wide receiver will also be key for the new season. While Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster (impending free agent) can hold down the fort, new talent in the position is clearly a priority after another year with an unimpressive Chiefs offense. If Bowe doesn’t take his game to the next level in the offseason, making that cut could save the Chiefs serious money for new talent. Cutting Bowe before June 1, 2014 would free up $3.5 million on the salary cap. But more importantly, cutting him after June 1 would nearly triple that amount, with a grand total of $9.5 million saved on the salary cap.
A new safety could also benefit the team. This position was clearly exploited by the Colts, and an improvement would make a huge difference against the strong teams in the 2014 lineup. Unfortunately, this might be the hardest position to fill since Berry’s salary is one of the highest on the team, at a grand total of $11.6 million. Since cutting Berry is nearly out of the question because of his longtime commitment to the team, it will be hard to find another man for the job who can perform at a high level and fit the small salary cap for the position.
While the successes in 2013 have brought good standing for the Chiefs, the salary cap is a very real hindrance to significant changes across the team. Finding new talent will rely on young, new players who will accept the lower salaries but outperform the players that struggled in the previous season.
Where do the Chiefs rank in the way too early 2014 Power Rankings?