KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs maintained the status quo as the league-wide deadline for designating a franchise or transition player passed Monday afternoon in advance of the NFL’s calendar year on March 11.
Monday’s lack of activity snapped a three-year streak of the Chiefs preventing a player from entering the free-agent market.
The Chiefs used the franchise designation on outside linebacker Tamba Hali in 2011, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe in 2012 and left tackle Branden Albert in 2013.
Still, the identification of a franchise player this year comes as no surprise.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said at the NFL Scouting Combine the team was unlikely to use the franchise tag.
“Probably not,” Dorsey said when asked if the franchise tag remained an option before free agency. “We probably won’t use it.”
Barring a re-signing before March 11, the following players are set to enter the market as unrestricted free agents: Albert, free safety Husain Abdullah, guard Jon Asamoah, free safety Quintin Demps, defensive end Tyson Jackson, inside linebacker Akeem Jordan, free safety Kendrick Lewis, wide receiver Dexter McCluster, guard Geoff Schwartz, wide receiver Kyle Williams and outside linebacker Frank Zombo.
Nevertheless, Dorsey said at the Combine the team remains in contact with the players’ representatives ahead of the start of free agency.
But the Chiefs may have to get creative within the salary cap when it comes to potentially re-signing one of their own.
Despite the league’s 2014 cap set at $133 million, the Chiefs currently have an estimated $9.79 million to work with, a total that ranks 25th in the league in cap space, according to Spotsrac.com.
The lack of cap space could prevent the Chiefs from being major players once the free agent market opens.
However, Chiefs coach Andy Reid made it clear during the Combine the team is focused on building the team through the draft, not necessarily through free agency.
“I think you kind of plug things here or there,” Reid said of signing free agents. “But if you think you’re going to make a team out of free agents, I don’t think that necessarily works.”
Meanwhile, Dorsey said at the Combine the Chiefs are attempting to extend quarterback Alex Smith’s current contract and are in talks with Smith’s representatives.
In addition to Smith, the Chiefs are apparently working on extending outside linebacker Justin Houston’s contract, NFL reporter Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reported last week.
Smith’s and Houston’s respective contracts expire after the 2014 season.