Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid was asked shortly before the new year about the Achilles injury recovery of Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito and stated that he's hoping to have both players back for the start of offseason workouts in April. DJ is the heart and soul of the defense and every Chiefs fan is looking forward to having him back. I'm assuming the Chiefs front office is too.
But what about Mike DeVito? The Chiefs defense end is entering the final year of his three-year contract signed before the 2013 season. After reading this excellent Chiefs d-line analysis from KC_Guy1966 and Jakuvious, I've been thinking about the case for and against DeVito's return to KC next season.
The case for DeVito's return
The case for his return is purely a football reason. The Chiefs were really bad against the run last year when DeVito was out with an Achilles injury. DeVito is pretty good at stopping the run. So bring him back. Pretty simple, right?
The case against DeVito's return
The case against his return is more complicated. In DeVito's absence last year, the Chiefs paid Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard emerged as a regular starter. DeVito is 32 years old coming off an Achilles injury. It's reasonable to think there will be a drop in performance which you have to weigh against the other players on the roster such as Howard or Vance Walker. Those players are cheaper ($4 million savings to cut DeVito, $1.75 million savings to cut Walker).
The biggest issue is his salary cap number, which is set to be over $5 million in 2015. That's a significant amount for a team up against the cap.
Will DeVito be back?
I'm really torn on this one because the Chiefs run defense was so bad last year but I lean towards DeVito not coming back and the Chiefs saving a few million against the cap. The Chiefs have other, admittedly cheaper linemen on the roster in Howard and Walker. This is one of those years where the cap will dictate some decisions and it seems like a bit of a luxury to keep DeVito with those other players on the roster.
If the Chiefs can somehow squeeze DeVito in there I won't complain all that much because he would be a benefit against the run, which cost the Chiefs a couple of games last year (if only they could've stopped Frank Gore in the fourth quarter...).