When John Dorsey was hired as the Kansas City Chiefs general manager on Jan. 13, 2013, the organization was two weeks removed from disaster and barely two months past tragedy. Kansas City was coming off the firing of Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli after a dismal 2-14 campaign, a year which included the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide.
Dorsey inherited Matt Cassel and a furious fan base, along with a talented but mostly unproven roster. Outside of Andy Reid, Dorsey had little certainty to work with. His first major move was trading two second-round picks to the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith. Those selections netted Justin Hunter for the Tennessee Titans (49ers swapped out) and Cody Latimer for the Denver Broncos (another 49ers trade).
Would you trade Hunter and Latimer for Smith? Yeah, me too.
Dorsey executed one other brilliant deal in 2013, acquiring Anthony Sherman for Javier Arenas. Arenas is now on his third team in as many seasons while Sherman has become the best fullback in the NFL.
In his two offseasons, Dorsey has signed a multitude of helpful players including James-Michael Johnson, Marcus Cooper, Christopher Owens, Anthony Fasano, Sean Smith, Mike DeVito, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Geoff Schwartz, , Husain Abdullah, Chase Daniel, Donnie Avery and Ron Parker, just to name a few. Some have been a little overpaid, and there have been a handful that didn't work out, but that can be said for even Hall of Fame general managers.
Dorsey has also put together what appear to be two excellent drafts. Eric Fisher is turning into a cornerstone at left tackle, with Knile Davis and Travis Kelce blossoming into stars. Then, Dorsey backed up that class with the 2014 group which has already produced Zach Fulton and De'Anthony Thomas, along with the promise of Dee Ford, Phillip Gaines and Aaron Murray.
Perhaps Dorsey deserves the most credit for knowing when to cut a player. I was the first in line crushing him when Brandon Flowers was released. It has turned out to be the right move, as the Chiefs defense ranks eighth in points allowed per game despite losing four starters for all or most of the season to this point, including two All-Pros.
Dorsey also allowed for Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Schwartz to walk, believing in his offensive line and the coaching staff. Then, he watch Jeff Allen go down in Week 1 and Donald Stephenson get suspended for four games. It wasn't pretty at first, but the line now looks cohesive and even at times, dominant. It is also the youngest offensive line in football.
Come this offseason, Dorsey will have a chance to put this team over the top. He will be locked and loaded with 11 draft picks, including a second-rounder for the first time in his Chiefs tenure. Dorsey can also open up space on the cap should he choose to.
Tamba Hali can be released at a $9 million cap savings, although I want to see him extended. All this talk of him being old sure goes away when he is on the field. DeVito would be another $4 million, with Fasano at $2M, Daniel at $2.8M, Avery at $3.5M, Mays at $3M, Vance Walker at $1.7M and A.J. Jenkins at $1.3M.
Let's say Dorsey extends Hali and lowers his cap hit to $5 million next season, and chooses to retain Fasano. The Chiefs will still see a savings of $16.3 million from those players alone, with a bunch of other guys like Jeff Linkenbach being let go to allow for more room. Additionally, the cap is expected to rise between $8-10 million next season, per multiple media reports. While Justin Houston, Rodney Hudson and Sherman have to be kept, there will be money to bring in a key piece or two, on top of those 11 rookies and undrafted rookie free-agents.
This season is young, and from this vantage point very promising. Dorsey has built a team with enough depth to withstand a mound of injuries and still compete and even beat the best in the NFL. If this group can continue to improve and get into the playoffs this season, it would be a major accomplishment that most thought impossible.
It's easy to forget how bad this team was when Dorsey took over. It's been quite the turnaround, and it has only begun.