Chiefs GM Brett Veach: Salary Cap “a Big Part” of Releasing Defensive Veterans

Feb 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach speaks to the media during the 2019 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Releasing veterans Eric Berry and Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford weren't easy decisions, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said Thursday, but one overarching factor played the biggest role in the roster purge.

“Certainly I think you start with the cap, and again they're tough decisions,” Veach said during a conference call with reporters, “but I think it's something looking toward not just next season but for the next two, three, four, five years, if you're not proactive in your approach, then you're always chasing your tail and you're always in a position where you don't have draft capital or you don't have draft space.”

Acquiring cap space and draft picks were critical to Veach. The club wants to prioritize extensions for three young stars in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive lineman Chris Jones. Clearing cap room both now and the future remains essential to accommodate those contracts and also allow the team to make other moves.

“One of the things that we made a strong effort to go over was to make sure that we had good young talent in the pipeline, but we were also cap flexible and we had draft capital,” Veach said.

The Chiefs have four picks in the top 100 selections this season, including a first-round choice and two second-round selections. Sending Ford to San Francisco netted an additional second-round choice in 2020.

“I think the fact that we have a one and two twos this year and then a one and two twos next year puts us into a position to be aggressive from now until the start of the season,” Veach said.

The Chiefs planned to unveil their first roster move Thursday afternoon with the introduction of free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu. The also expect to announce soon the addition of linebacker Damien Wilson. Other moves appear on the horizon with cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jason Verrett scheduled for visits along with linebacker Markus Golden.

Veach admits that Ford, Houston and Berry could help the team in the 2019, but that might come at the cost of future seasons. He said it's a balancing act between what the team can do to supplement for the losses now while seeing important gains in future seasons.

“You look at can they help us at the cost of what it would take to do that, again knowing that contracts and extensions are looming behind here,” Veach said. “What can we do now to put ourselves in a good position not just for next year, but again for the next three, four, five, six years?”

With Houston and Ford gone, Veach knows he and his staff work to do, and rebuilding the pass rush for 2019 remains a high priority.

“Absolutely,” Veach said. “We're not done. This was one part to get flexibility and ammunition to do things that we want to do.”