KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs general manager John Dorsey addressed team beat writers Tuesday during a conference call and touched on a variety of subjects.
The call marked the first time Dorsey talked to the media since the NFL ruled the Chiefs violated the Anti-Tampering Policy, which the team has appealed, for having improper contact with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in 2015 before the start of free agency. The NFL stripped the Chiefs of a third-round pick in 2016 and a sixth-round pick in 2017 as a result of the ruling.
While Dorsey declined to discuss the NFL’s punishment pending the outcome of the appeal, he acknowledged the challenge of entering the upcoming draft without a third-round pick.
“Well, it’s going to make sure that we try to hit those picks as we go along,” Dorsey said. “Of course, it will change a few things. You have to make sure that the diligent work you do is as good of work as you possibly can do, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
In addition to the Chiefs surrendering draft picks in 2016 and 2017, the NFL fined the Chiefs as an organization $250,000, while fining Dorsey $25,000 and coach Andy Reid $75,000.
The Chiefs have seven draft picks in the 2016 draft, but the loss of a third-round pick looms large when considering Dorsey’s track record.
Since Dorsey’s arrival in 2013, the Chiefs selected tight end Travis Kelce, running back Knile Davis, cornerback Phillip Gaines, wide receiver Chris Conley and cornerback Steven Nelson in the third round.
Nevertheless, the Chiefs are prepared to work around the loss of a third-round pick and Dorsey said he will maintain meetings with his staff.
“We will continue to do that to make sure that at the end of the day, this 2016 draft of the Kansas City Chiefs is the best we’ve done to date,” Dorsey said.
The Chiefs currently have $5.7 million in cap space, and at least $5 million is needed for the rookie class from the NFL Draft.
The amount of cap space doesn’t leave much wiggle room for the rest of the year, but the Chiefs could gain cap relief by working out a long-term contract with safety Eric Berry, who carries a $10.8 million price tag as a non-exclusive franchised player.
The good news is Dorsey and Berry’s agent are talking.
“His representative and I have talked numerous times,” Dorsey said. “We will continue to have discussions and we’ll see if we can wrap our arms around this and see if everybody can come to an agreement how we all see this thing.”
While there is time to hammer out a deal before the July 15 league-wide deadline for franchised players, the Chiefs would likely prefer to have something done with Berry sooner than later to free cap room for any potential free-agent signings.
Dorsey didn’t categorize the negotiations as either positive or negative, but he stressed the open dialogue carries significance.
“The communication, regardless if it’s good or bad, as long as two sides are communicating, good things can usually transpire,” Dorsey said. “I just like to keep the communication open and we will continue to keep the communication open.”
Dorsey emphasized outside linebacker Justin Houston, who underwent surgery on his left ACL in mid-February, did not re-injure the knee in the opening round of the playoffs against Houston Texans.
“No, he didn’t,” Dorsey said emphatically. “He didn’t redo it.”
Houston missed the final five regular-season games after suffering a hyperextended knee injury in Week 12. He returned for the postseason, logging 44 snaps against the Texans before totaling just eight snaps (14 percent) in the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots.
Dorsey pointed out Houston received proper care after being diagnosed with a hyperextended knee and the discovery of the ACL needing attention didn’t occur until February.
“I think it was a process, that was a long process,” Dorsey said. “As it unfolded, you know, when you come back and they run an MRI on the thing, everything is there. You have to think it’s very positive. When they went back in February, they had some other findings.”
Recovery from the surgery, which was performed by the renowned Dr. James Andrews, is expected to keep Houston out of action 6-12 months.
But the Chiefs, who remain optimistic Houston could play in 2016, will be able to keep a close eye on Houston’s rehabilitation.
“Justin’s coming back here and rehabbing, and we’re getting ready to attack this 2016,” Dorsey said. “So, what I have to do is I have to live in the present, and that’s kind of what I’m living in.”
NO THOMAS TRADE DISCUSSION
A report surfaced out of the San Francisco area at the start of the free agency that the Chiefs and 49ers discussed a potential trade involving wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas.
The Chiefs general manager quickly refuted the report.
“I would tell you if I’ve had conversations with the 49ers, I haven’t,” Dorsey said. “I think that’s just a natural evolution of how that social media stuff works, only because Chip Kelly is now in San Francisco and was with Oregon. I have not talked to the 49ers whatsoever about De’Anthony Thomas.”
Dorsey said Thomas, who finished the season on the non-football injury list, has been observed at the Chiefs training facility and should be available when the team reports for the voluntary offseason workout program on April 18.
“I was in the building last week and he’s been around,” Dorsey said. “Like I said to you all earlier, he’s a Kansas City Chief, and he will continue to be a Kansas City Chief.”