Big news came down Thursday afternoon on the NFL front as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the league will increase the salary cap to around $130 million for the 2014 season. It’s a five percent increase from the current $123 million cap. Initial projections had the cap increasing to approximately $126.3 million, meaning team executives will essentially have an extra $4 million to work with this offseason.
The cap expansion will provide some much-needed breathing room for teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers that are attempting to get under the cap before the March 11 deadline. On the opposite end, it will provide even more cash for organizations already in a favorable financial situation, such as the Oakland Raiders, who now have $64.5 million in wiggle room. But what implications does it hold for the Kansas City Chiefs?
Well, Kansas City currently sits in the bottom third of the league in terms of cap room. According to sportac.com, the implementation of the cap change still only increases the Chiefs’ space to $6,792,443. With 12 impending free agents and several targets on GM John Dorsey‘s wishlist, this won’t be enough to get everybody. But it will certainly help.
Does it affect Dexter McCluster‘s upcoming free agency? Possibly. Kansas City has already signed free agent Joe McKnight and former CFL wideout Weston Dressler to futures contracts, both of whom possess skill sets very similar to McCluster’s. Still, neither are a guarantee to even make it through the summer and won’t replicate DMC’s return prowess.
The Chiefs have indicated they want McCluster back, and the cap increase makes that feasible. He’ll likely be looking $3-4 million per season in a multiyear deal. While it’s plausible, I still think it’s too steep for McCluster. As much as he’s adored by Kansas City fans, he’s not a true wide receiver and can be replaced with minimal drop-off in production on special teams.
Additionally, passing on McCluster would now enable the Chiefs to become serious contenders if they wish to bid on either Jeremy Maclin or Golden Tate. Many have already pegged Maclin as a great fit in Kansas City. He’s played under coach Andy Reid for Philadelphia Eagles and possesses the ability to line up both outside and in the slot. Though he’s coming of an ACL injury, Maclin is the top wideout in this year’s free agency pool and now becomes a realistic possibility for the Chiefs.
Tate’s name has been brought up as a possible Dorsey addition this offseason as well. He’s a short, quick receiver; the type that thrives in Reid’s offense. Furthermore, he returns punts and is capable of softening the blow of McCluster’s loss on special teams. Though not quite as seamless a fit as Maclin, Tate would be a nice pickup should the Chiefs fall short on the Philadelphia wideout. It’ll be interesting to see how much the notoriously braggadocious Tate believes he’s worth, but for the right price, he could be big contributor in Kansas City next season.
The increase will also affect the Chiefs’ anticipated pursuit of a free safety this offseason. Assuming they don’t intend to fill their need strictly through the NFL draft, Kansas City can now grab a top player if it chooses. New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins is one such player. He’s been inconsistent at times in his career, but has shown potential as a do-it-all safety.
He’s a solid blitzer when called upon and, more importantly, is a viable option for DC Bob Sutton‘s deep coverages; something the Chiefs visibly lack with impending free agent Kendrick Lewis lurking downfield. At only 26, Jenkins has time to transform his potential into production and would be a stellar addition for a reeling Kansas City secondary.
He’ll likely ask for somewhere in the $3-$4 million per season range and could be the marquee addition of Dorsey’s 2014 offseason.
While all these options could be explored, it’s ultimately up to Dorsey as to where the new money will go. He owns a track record of impressive moves through free agency, so I won’t question the guy. Either way, it should make what seemed primed to be an uneventful Chiefs offseason a bit more interesting.