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Early look at Kansas City Chiefs 2016 roster, free agency, bubble players

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It's too early to declare many locks and cuts but we thought it'd be a useful exercise to see how many roster spots are really up for grabs this offseason for the Chiefs. Here's our take on the roster as it stands today with free agency and the draft to come.

The core: 34 players under contract and likely* to stay

*Likely as of today. We all know this list will change as the offseason goes.

(3) QB: Alex Smith, Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray

(2) RB: Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware

(1) FB: Anthony Sherman

(3) WR: Jeremy Maclin, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson

(3) TE: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, James O'Shaughnessy

(6) OL: Eric Fisher, Jah Reid, Ben Grubbs, Mitch Morse, Zach Fulton, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

(3) DL: Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches

(6) LB: Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Josh Mauga, D.J. Alexander, Ramik Wilson, Justin March

(1) S: Ron Parker

(3) CB: Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson

(3) Specialists: Cairo Santos, James Winchester, Dustin Colquitt


The early roster bubble

OL Paul Fanaika: Was expected to be veteran depth on the right side of the o-line but spent the entire season on IR. He's signed through 2017 with decent money on the line so you'd think he'd have a shot to return.

WR/PR De'Anthony Thomas: An exciting playmaker that missed significant time this season with a concussion. He never returned and there seems to be some disagreement about his concussion. Because we don't know what this situation is, we'll file him under we don't know.

RB/KR Knile Davis: We all assumed he was the No. 2 back this season, but after Charles went on IR, West and Ware were the ones who stepped in. Davis handled most of the kick return duties this year but was inactive for a couple of games so it's reasonable to speculate he could be the odd man out in 2016.

CB Marcus Cooper: Had a strong rookie campaign but has been relegated to the bench / special teams ever since.   Chiefs GM John Dorsey has made significant investments in the cornerback position, and figures to do more this season. So it's possible Cooper's time in KC will come to an end.

TE Brian Parker: An athletic guy who can block. He has a chance chance to stick around.. However, if fifth round pick James O'Shaughnessy comes back healthy, the Chiefs already have three young, athletic tight ends.

OL Jarrod Pughsley: Aguy it seems the Chiefs have some hope for but there are a LOT of bodies on the line. And it's a safe bet they'll bring in more.

Restricted free agents

S Daniel Sorensen (ERFA): A reserve safety and core four special teamer. Seems to have carved out a role for himself.

RB Charcandrick West (ERFA): Performed admirably when Jamaal Charles was injured but could get caught in a numbers game at running back. Probably not. He should be back.

DE Nick Williams (ERFA): Saw snaps in the d-line rotation but didn't make a huge impact.

OLB Dezman Moses (RFA): Special teams performer, but hasn't made much impact on defense yet.

14 unrestricted free agents that have been contributors

S Eric Berry: All-Pro safety and team leader, it's a good bet he'll work with the Chiefs on a long-term deal.

CB Sean Smith: Has been tremendous in KC but might price himself out of town. He should get PAID this year.

ILB Derrick Johnson: Had one of his best seasons ever and declared "I'm a Chief" after the loss to the Patriots. It's easy to see him returning on a short-term deal to retire in KC.

DL Jaye Howard: Was reportedly working on a new contract midseason but all has been quiet since. He had a fantastic year, and said he wants to be paid like one of the top defensive linemen in the league. Keep an eye on Howard this offseason. I'm sure the Chiefs would like to keep him but at what price?

OLB Tamba Hali: The consummate team player, has given everything he had to the Chiefs, including some of his money (by agreeing to a pay cut). His contract reportedly voids so he'll have to negotiate a new deal if he wants to give it one more run.

OL Jeff Allen: Clearly gave the offensive line a boost when he was healthy enough to play. Dorsey has a history of letting these types of linemen leave in free agency, so it'll be interesting to see how much effort is made to bring Allen back.

QB Chase Daniel: There's value in a reliable backup QB but we'd be surprised if Chase is re-signed.

DL Mike DeVito: DeVito has been a steady force on the defensive line when healthy, took a pay cut to stay in KC ... it's probably 50/50 on whether they bring him back or not.

S Tyvon Branch: Made some plays this year as a reserve safety, but Dorsey seems to be able to find veteran safeties like Demps, Branch and Abdullah as needed, so he might keep churning this spot.

S Husain Abdullah: Was a great street free agent signing early in Dorsey's tenure here. I wouldn't be surprised if he's back.

OL Donald Stephenson: Went from swing tackle to right tackle to left tackle back to the bench and, at times, guard. I'd assume the Chiefs don't make a big effort to bring Don back in 2016, but stranger things have happened.

OLB Frank Zombo: Has been a valuable reserve and special tams player, and I get the impression he's a Dorsey / Reid favorite. Would likely be reasonably cheap to re-sign if they don't have a better option.

WR Jason Avant: Came up big in the New England game, but was pretty quiet otherwise. Seems like the Chiefs would prefer to explore other options to improve the receiver group this offseason. Some have speculated Avant could have a future in coaching.

CB Jamell Fleming: Had some rough outings on defense, but was a steady special teams performer. Like most of the free agents, his return may depend on who else is available.

With the list above + eight Draft picks + UDFAs coming in, along with veteran free agency, there will be plenty of competition for the initial 53-man roster in 2016.

Dorsey and Reid could essentially bring back the same team from 2015. This group has proven to be capable of putting up winning seasons, and finally won a playoff game. So, perhaps Dorsey will focus on re-signing their own veteran free agents. OR they could continue to churn the roster in hopes of taking the Chiefs to the next level.