According to a recent ESPN report, the Kansas City Chiefs will enter the 2011-12 season about $34 million under the salary cap minimum. Those numbers don't include the tenders the Chiefs reportedly placed on certain players before the lockout, nor the rookies or undrafted free agent signings that will come, so it's a sorta, kinda accurate look at the Chiefs salary cap situation.
If the number is accurate, it gives us a rough idea of how much salary cap money the Chiefs need to spend (as opposed to actual money spent, which is much higher). The Chiefs can hit the cap minimum by not just hitting free agency but also by re-signing some of the players in-house.
Our friend Ryan over at KC Chiefs Blog wrote about some of the Chiefs cap stuff today and I'll take a look at a few key players under contract for 2011 that the Chiefs could be considering for long-term contracts.
LB Tamba Hali. This might be the biggest no-brainer on the list, if you ask me. The Chiefs tried to work on a contract for Hali before the lockout but they obviously didn't get anything done. They want to sign him long-term and I believe they ultimately will. Hali's one of the better up-and-coming pass rushers in the league so he can command some serious coin. His contract will go a long way to getting to the cap minimum.
CB Brandon Flowers. Like Hali, the Chiefs tried to spend some money on Flowers before the lockout. I would guess that they wrap him up some time before the end of the 2011-12 season as he's entering the final year of his contract. With the free agency rules reverting back to pre-2010 rules, Flowers could become a free agent after this season with four years of service time, and I would predict the Chiefs don't let that happen.
CB Brandon Carr. Will the Chiefs spend money on both Flowers and Carr? That's the big question. Cornerback is becoming one of those premium positions which means there's a lot of money invested into it. If the Chiefs have money to spend then Carr would be a good candidate to receive a long-term contract. He has already reportedly received a restricted free agent tender so they should have him in tow for 2011 but what about the future? I'm a big fan of his and what he's done in the league as just a fifth round pick. He's a solid, reliable cornerback who doesn't come with any character questions. I think the Chiefs would want to keep him around, but will the money fit? (Note: Since Carr is a restricted free agent this is technically spending money in free agency but just ignore that for the purposes of this story.)
WR Dwayne Bowe. Hmm. Tough one here. I really have no idea whether the Chiefs would sign him to a long-term deal but, if I had to say yes or no right now, I would say they ultimately don't. He has another year remaining on his contract and I would guess the Chiefs, if they're considering him for a long-term contract, would want to make him prove it again in 2011. Even then, I'm not sold on the Chiefs giving a big-time contract to Bowe.