Working the Chiefs Rookies Into the Salary Cap

San Diego Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd reaches out over Kansas City Chiefs corner back Maurice Leggett (31) to pull down a first quarter pass during NFL football game in San Diego, California November 9, 2008.

The summer is the time of year for NFL contracts, especially for the recently drafted rookies. Over the next two months, the Kansas City Chiefs draft picks will slowly get their deals inked, with the guys drafted in the lower rounds undoubtedly getting their deals done first.

Of course, these new contracts will have to factor into the 2009 salary cap, which just increased nearly $1 million to $128 million on Wednesday.

Let's take a look at some hypotheticals on how these 2009 rookie contracts will factor into the Chiefs' plans.

Salary cap: $128 million

Salary cap floor: (86.4% of cap): $109 million

Chiefs current salary cap (approx.): $96 million

Cap money to the minimum (approx.): $13 million

Below, are the cap hits for the Chiefs corresponding draft slots in the 2008 NFL draft.  This isn't an exact science, especially when you see #252 has a higher cap value than #237.  Each contract is different but this should get us in the ballpark of the cap hit we can expect to take with the Chiefs 2009 rookie class.

Draft Position Salary Cap Hit
3 $2,800,000
67 $508,550
102 $402,300
139 $344,500
175 $321,250
211 $310,000
237 $211,125
252 $300,000
Total $5,197,725


The $5.2 million number is an approximation.  All NFL contracts are different but by the time we get down to the 5th, 6th and 7th rounds, the differences are minimal.  The starting point for contract negotiations between the agent and the club is the previous year's deal at the same draft slot, so this gives us an approximation of what kind of cap hit we'll take with the Chiefs 2009 rookie class.

With the increase that comes every year, we'll say the Chiefs will top out at paying their rookies $6 million.  Though, it's always possible the contracts will be negotiated very differently than the ones above so that we can hit the salary cap minimum.

I've heard a lot of chatter about the Chiefs hitting the salary cap minimum.  This is not an issue in any way.  With the rookie class and the addition of the undrafted free agents, we can expect that $5.2 million number to rise.

For example, last year Maurice Leggett, an undrafted free agent, received a $295,000 base salary and a $4,000 signing bonus on a two year deal.  To find his cap hit in 2008, add the pro-rated signing bonus (in this case $4,000 / 2) to the base salary ($295,000) which equals $297,000.

After the rookies, where does this leave the Chiefs salary cap?

The Chiefs rookie class, including UDFAs, should leave the Chiefs with $6-8 million to spend to hit the minimum.  This is very, very easily achieved.  Re-working a contract here, converting a bonus there, it's no problem.  Scott Pioli, and more specifically Denny Thum, have never encountered an issue with hitting the floor and they won't in Kansas City. NFL contracts are malleable enough that few issues should arise.

To gain some perspective on this, I challenge someone to show me all the instances of a team being fined for not hitting the minimum.

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