Over the next few weeks, "Shutdown Corner" will pay homage to "Office Space" (TPS reports) as we take a quick look back at each team's 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We now move to the AFC West and begin with the Kansas City Chiefs.
2012 record: 2-14
What went wrong: The Chiefs lost 10 of their first 11 games, did not play with the lead in a game until Nov. 12 and at 2-14, will have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Quarterback Matt Cassel had twice as many interceptions (12) as touchdown passes (six) and, in nine games, lost seven fumbles. Brady Quinn replaced Cassel midway through the season and had four times as many interceptions (eight) as touchdowns (two) as the Chiefs ranked 32nd in the NFL in both passing and scoring offense. Advanced metrics were just as harsh on the Chiefs' offense, as Football Outsiders had the Chiefs ranked 31st in offensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and passing DVOA. Though the Chiefs placed a handful of defensive players in the Pro Bowl, FO's opponent-adjusted metrics had Kansas City's defense ranked 30th (31st against the pass, 28th against the run).
On Dec. 1, tragedy struck as inside linebacker Jovan Belcher took the life of Kasandra Perkins, his live-in girlfriend and mother to their three-month old daughter, Zoey, before driving to the team's headquarters and taking his own life in front of head coach Romeo Crennel, defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs and GM Scott Pioli.
What went right: Running back Jamaal Charles made a triumphant return from a torn ACL to rush for 1,509 yards and five touchdowns, ranking 12th in Football Outsiders' DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) metric as the Chiefs' averaged 149.7 yards per game on the ground in 2012. Charles was named second-team All-Pro and was one of six Chiefs to play in the Pro Bowl. Four of those players were on defense, including safety Eric Berry, who also returned from a torn ACL.
Joining Berry and Charles in Honolulu were outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, who combined for 19 sacks (10 by Houston, nine by Hali), and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, who led the Chiefs with 124 tackles last season. Punter Dustin Colquitt ranked second in the NFL with 45 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and equaled his career-best with a 40.8-yard net average, despite having two punts returned for touchdowns.
Coaching/front office changes: CEO Clark Hunt cleaned house, beginning with the decision to let Crennel go after just one season and hiring head coach Andy Reid, who had been fired after a second straight disappointing season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Shortly after the Reid hiring, the Chiefs parted ways with GM Scott Pioli, who was replaced by John Dorsey, a longtime member of the Green Bay Packers' personnel department.
Estimated 2013 cap space: $13.924 million
Possible cap casualties: The Chiefs could clear cap space by restructuring the contract of linebacker Tamba Hali, who is due $12.5 million in cash (including a $12.25 million base salary) and has a cap number of $15.5 million in 2013 which, shockingly, is only the second-highest cap figure on the team. The problem with doing that, however, is that Hali is only signed through 2015. Unless his deal was extended by a couple of seasons, restructuring Hali's deal would just create more cap issues in 2014 and 2015.
The biggest question in Kansas City is the future of Cassel, who is scheduled to earn $7.75 million in cash and has a cap number of $9.825 million this season. Releasing Cassel outright – i.e., not a "post-June 1" designation – would free up $5.875 million in cap space in 2013. The other potential cap casualty is defensive end Tyson Jackson, who is due $14.97 million in cash ($14.72 million base salary, $250,000 workout bonus) and has a team-high cap number of $17.47 million. The Chiefs could more than double their available cap space by parting ways with Jackson, who has five sacks in 59 career games as the No. 3 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.
After catching just seven passes for 74 yards last season, wide receiver Steve Breaston is energized by the arrival of Andy Reid. The Chiefs may look to test Breaston's enthusiasm for a fresh start by asking the soon-to-be 30-year-old to lower his $3.8 million base salary and $5 million cap number in 2013.
Unrestricted free agents
Branden Albert, OT
Dwayne Bowe, WR
Dustin Colquitt, P
Travis Daniels, CB
Glenn Dorsey, DE
Abram Elam, S
Thomas Gafford, LS
Peyton Hillis, RB
Russ Hochstein, G
Edgar Jones, LB
Ryan Lilja, C/G
Jake O'Connell, TE
Brady Quinn, QB
Brandon Siler, LB
Shaun Smith, NT
Leon Williams, LB
Restricted free agents
Martin Rucker, TE
RFA tender amounts in 2013 are:
• $1.323 million for right of first refusal and/or original draft round compensation
• $2.023 for right of first refusal and second round draft selection
• $2.879 for right of first refusal and first round draft selection
Franchise Tag candidates: The two logical franchise tag candidates for the Chiefs are left tackle Branden Albert and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Albert has started 71 of his 73 games with the Chiefs over the last five seasons and has quietly developed into a solid left tackle. Based on a projected league-wide cap number of $121.1 million, the cost of using the franchise tag on Albert would be $9.676 million in 2013. With the Chiefs holding the No. 1 overall pick, they are in prime position to select Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who resides at the top spot on Shutdown Corner's initial big board.
The Chiefs franchised Bowe in 2012, committing $9.515 million in base salary to the 2007 first-round pick out of LSU. Though Bowe missed the final three games of the season due to broken ribs, he led the "aerially-challenged" Chiefs offense with 59 receptions, 801 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. Placing the franchise tag on Bowe for a second time would cost the Chiefs $11.418 million in 2013. If the Chiefs opt to go a more economical route, punter Dustin Colquitt would cost an estimated $2.93 million on the franchise tag.
Previous installments of the "Offseason TPS Reports" series:
AFC East: New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns
AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans
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