Go ahead and assemble that free-agent wish list, Chiefs fans. Dream big, because salary-cap room won’t be a problem.
And with new coach Todd Haley finally in the fold, he and general manager Scott Pioli can go to town.
A linebacker like Arizona’s Karlos Dansby? Haley watched him in practice every day of the season.
The Chiefs would be able to sign both those players and then some like Carolina’s pass-rusher Julius Peppers. Research by The Kansas City Star shows the Chiefs have salary-cap commitments of about $85.6 million, or about $37 million less than the projected NFL limit of $123 million.
The Chiefs could clear plenty more cap room without much pain. Patrick Surtain, the fourth cornerback, has the team’s highest salary-cap figure at almost $9.8 million. A player’s cost against the salary cap includes a player’s base salary plus various bonuses.
Releasing Surtain, who is due a $7 million salary, would save the Chiefs an additional $3.8 million against their cap.
Two other aging veterans who also may not figure in to Kansas City’s plans, linebacker Donnie Edwards and quarterback Damon Huard, are also among the Chiefs’ highest-paid players.
The Chiefs don’t have many prospective free agents of their own. Nine of their players don’t have a 2009 contract, and the only one the Chiefs would probably view as urgent to retain is safety Jarrad Page.
Page would be a restricted free agent, giving the Chiefs the right to match any offer he would receive as long as they offer him a one-year contract.
The Chiefs might also view backup safety Jon McGraw, a potential unrestricted free agent, as a valuable player because of his special-teams skills. McGraw in 2008 concluded a two-year contract that paid him $645,000 last season.