INDIANAPOLIS – Roster decisions loom on numerous fronts for the Chiefs.
Will the team re-sign the likes of center Rodney Hudson, outside linebacker Justin Houston, defensive back Ron Parker, linebacker Josh Mauga and right tackle Ryan Harris, among others, before the start of the league’s calendar year on March 10?
The good news is the Chiefs’ decision makers and various player representatives are in the perfect spot at the NFL Scouting Combine to help answer the dilemma.
“That’s the great thing about having some of the agents here in this venue as well,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. “It gives you a chance to have discussions with their representatives.”
Dorsey, of course, isn’t keen on getting into particulars when it comes to player contract negotiations in the media, and he was quick to serve a reminder.
“You will have some questions with regards to various players that we have in free agency and stuff like that,” Dorsey said. “You’ve known me for a couple years now and I really don’t like talking about the business of football in this venue. I will say this, I love those guys, I’m proud of those guys, I’m proud of what they bring into that locker room. That’s kind of what I have to say there.”
Still, no pending free agent has a higher profile than Houston, who has emerged as one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers.
Houston set a single-season team record with 22 sacks in 2014 and was named a first-team All Pro.
“I think Justin Houston is a fine football player,” Dorsey said. “I think what he did this year, I mean, he did a wonderful job. Everybody, we applaud him for that. His representative is in town and I’ve had ongoing discussions with his representative.”
Of the team’s free agents, Houston is the likely candidate to receive the franchise designation, which would pay an average of the top five players in the NFL at his position, in the absence of a long-term deal.
The window for teams to identify franchise or transition players opened Feb. 16 and runs through March 2.
BACKUP QUARTERBACK SITUATION
Chase Daniel’s base salary in 2015 calls for him to earn $3.75 million and Tyler Bray had surgery to repair an ACL injury in early January.
The Chiefs also have Aaron Murray and Terrelle Pryor on the offseason roster. Alex Smith is the clear starter, but the Chiefs have to decide to proceed with five total quarterbacks.
“We drafted Aaron for a reason,” Dorsey said. “I think Aaron greatly benefited from seeing two true professionals at work. Whenever you can have an Alex Smith and a Chase Daniel in a room, those young guys benefited from that. They saw what total commitment was in terms of preparing to play that game every Sunday.”
Dorsey also complimented Pryor’s commitment to learning the playbook.
That leaves Daniel and Bray.
“Everybody knows he’s paid a little bit higher than the normal backup,” Dorsey said of Daniel. “But I think to Chase’s credit, he’s played two good games when asked upon to start and he really truly should be 2-0. We all know he’s 1-1; I totally applaud what he’s done right now.”
Dorsey said he believes the Chiefs can keep Daniel at his current price, adding, “Right now, he’s 2015. He is a Kansas City Chief.”
When it comes to Bray, Dorsey prefers to see how the former Tennessee Volunteer looks when he is back around the team.
“What I’d like to do is I want to see him when he comes back to KC,” Dorsey said, “and kind of see where he is and when the doctors, what they talk about and until I hear from them, I’m saying right now Tyler is a Chief.”
NEW CORNERBACK ON THE BLOCK
The Chiefs signed cornerback Shaquille Richardson to a free-agent contract on Feb. 12, and apparently this wasn’t a random transaction.
“We kind of liked him a little bit coming out in the (2014) draft,” Dorsey said. “We had brought him in as one of the 30-player interviews.”
The Chiefs didn’t have a chance to draft Richardson, who ended up being selected in the fifth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was placed on Pittsburgh’s practice squad to start the season before landing on the practice squad/injured reserve list. The Steelers and Richardson reached an injury settlement in October.
Signing Richardson after missing out on him in 2014 proved natural based on what the Chiefs already knew.
“We sat down as a personnel staff, talked about that as well as reviewing the college reports,” Dorsey said, “You know what? It just helps us have some more depth at the cornerback position, add some more competition that we talk about.”
The Chiefs could use depth in the defensive backfield with cornerback Chris Owens, defensive back Ron Parker and safety Kurt Coleman set to become unrestricted free agents.