The Kansas City Chiefs are reported to be among (at least) three teams pursuing free agent DeSean Jackson. The first question that pops into any KC Chiefs fans head is whether the team can afford to pay Jackson a competitive contract under their current salary cap obligations.
The short answer is that while it could make for some difficult decisions elsewhere, yes, they probably could.
The Chiefs have about $4.5 million in salary cap space right now, according to NFLPA records. They could pay DeSean Jackson a big, multi-year deal with lots of guaranteed money and still stay under the cap this year.
How? The best example of this is Dwayne Bowe, who signed a 5-year, $56 million deal last year. His first year cap number? Just $4 million. And I bet you Jackson isn't going to get a 5-year, $56 million deal...
A low cap number this year simply means a higher number later. But it does seem possible to fit something into the Chiefs current cap structure this year.
Doing a multi-year deal with a $7-9 million per year player (I'm just guessing) would complicate things in both the short and long term. The Chiefs will need about $1.4 million in cap space to pay their rookies this summer. This would also affect the Chiefs salary cap in 2015, 2016 and other long-term plans. Adding another pricey player could also accelerate the release of another well-compensated player for cap reasons.
It's also possible Jackson is looking for a short-term deal, one or two years. He's 27 years old so putting up another terrific season and righting the ship so to speak could be advantageous for him. He could get another bite out of the free agency pie before he's 30 years old. That makes sense to me, too.
There are a lot of scenarios that could happen here and I'm sure the Chiefs have talked through them. That they're reportedly pursuing him tells you they think there's a scenario where they could afford him.
This should make for a fun weekend.