Negotiating period opens: Overview of Chiefs’ pending unrestricted free agents

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Nov. 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard (96) applies pressure on Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Nov. 29, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs defensive end Jaye Howard (96) applies pressure on Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The hunt officially begins.

A two-day window, commonly referred to as the “legal tampering period,” opens Monday at 11 a.m. CT for NFL teams to contact and negotiate with agents representing players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents Wednesday.

Any agreed upon contract, however, can’t be executed with a new club until the league’s calendar year begins Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT.

The league-wide salary cap is officially $155.27 million. Kansas City’s salary cap, which includes $2.6 million carried over from 2015, is set at $157.9 million, according to adjusted figures released Monday morning by the NFLPA.

The Chiefs have an estimated $18.9 million in available cap space, according to spotrac.com, after applying the franchise designation on safety Eric Berry.

Berry can still negotiate with other teams under a non-exclusive franchise designation, which carries a $10.8 million price tag, but the Chiefs can match any signed offer. In the event the Chiefs choose to not match an offer, the team signing Berry would owe the Chiefs compensation in the form of two first-round picks.

With Berry tagged, the Chiefs have 14 players scheduled to hit the open market Wednesday.

And each player listed below should command interest either from the Chiefs as candidates to return or from other teams in the coming days:

OFFENSE

QB Chase Daniel: General manager John Dorsey said at the Combine he would attempt to keep Daniel “at the right price.” Daniel, who enters his eighth season, is likely to seek an opportunity to start.

G/T Jeff Allen: With 36 career starts and versatility to play guard and tackle, Allen has the experience that will attract plenty of attention.

OT Donald Stephenson: The fourth-year pro, who has 21 starts over four seasons, told ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal in January he covets an opportunity to be a starter.

WR Jason Avant: Enters his 11th season and would provide a veteran presence to a team with young wide receivers.

DEFENSE

DE Jaye Howard: Should be plenty of interest around the league in the 6-foot-3 Howard, who bulked up to 330 pounds in training camp last year. Howard provides versatility to play outside or inside, and comes off a career season with 5 ½ sacks.

DE Mike DeVito: There is mutual interest between the Chiefs and DeVito, who recently told ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal he is willing to return.

ILB Derrick Johnson: General manager John Dorsey offered a strong statement at the Combine that the Chiefs will attempt to retain Johnson: “Any time you become the all-time leading tackler for the Chiefs,” Dorsey said, “we’re not going to let good football players go in this thing.”

OLB Tamba Hali: His contract voided on March 4, but the Chiefs can still re-sign Hali before he becomes an unrestricted free agent Wednesday.

OLB Frank Zombo: His contributions last season with the Chiefs mostly came on special teams, where he totaled the second-most snaps (361). But Zombo also offers starting experience and is more than capable in a pinch.

OLB Dezman Moses: Despite a strong training camp last summer, Moses had difficulty getting on the field, totaling just 55 defensive snaps on the season.

CB Sean Smith: The Chiefs may not be able to afford Smith, who is regarded as one of the top cornerbacks available on the market. The 6-3, 218-pound Smith, who turns 29 in July, is likely to command a premium contract and shouldn’t be short of suitors.

CB Jamell Fleming: He played the fifth-most special teams snaps (273) for the Chiefs last season.

S Tyvon Branch: Played the past season on a one-year deal, appearing in all 16 games with one start, and showed he was over the injuries that plagued his 2013 and 2014 campaigns in Oakland. The Chiefs have expressed interest in retaining Branch.

S Husain Abdullah: Totaled 434 defensive snaps in 2015 and plays a large role in the defensive subpackages the Chiefs utilize.

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Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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