With the Justin Houston news coming out yesterday, more people are talking about the Kansas City Chiefs finances and how they should handle trying to sign both Houston and Alex Smith to new contracts. That makes this a good time to give you an update on the KC Chiefs salary cap space.
Currently, according to NFLPA numbers, the Chiefs have $9.4 million in cap space. They received about a $7 million boost in cap space when Brandon Flowers was cut last month. That $9.4 million ranks them 13th in the league in terms of most cap space.
$9.4 million in cap space is plenty to potentially do contracts with Houston or Smith. Teams can re-work the numbers in a contract so as to lighten the cap number early on (which just gets tacked onto back-end years). For example, Dwayne Bowe's 5-year, $56 million deal had just a $4 million cap number in his first season. Tamba Hali had a $4 cap number the first year of his 5-year, $57 million deal.
The goal when paying players is to make it as much of a pay-as-you-go operation as possible. You don't want to end up like some teams who eventually have to blow the whole thing up because they have so much dead money (ahem, Cowboys).
One question is whether the Chiefs have enough cap space to do a contract with both of them. It seems like they potentially could depending on the structure but you would be draining the cap to the bottom before the season starts. With injuries and potential cuts from other teams, that's a tough spot to be in.
Update: As commenters point out, it's actually easier to do a deal with Alex Smith with the Chiefs current cap space. His $7.5 million cap number is higher than Houston's, so it'd be easier to give Smith a pay raise.