One down, two more to go.
That's what Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey faces on the contract front as the Chiefs began training camp at Missouri Western State University.
A holdout by running back Jamaal Charles ended up being measured in minutes not days, as he and the team agreed on July 23 to a two-year extension that will bring him $18.1 million in new money. Charles was only a few hours late for the deadline for veterans to report to campus. It turned out he did not have the stomach at all for a holdout.
"I didn't want to hold out," the Chiefs' running back said. "That's not my personality. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to be selfish. I just wanted to get the deal done ... to come back and play football."
Now, Dorsey must get back to finding a way to do new deals or extensions with quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston. Those negotiations have been going on since the end of the 2013 season, but neither player appears to be close to signing new paper. Both are under contract for the upcoming season, Smith at $7.5 million and Houston at $1.4 million. It's the final year of both contracts.
"There's been a lot of continued open conversation between both sides," Smith said of negotiations between the club and his agent Tom Condon. "But come camp for me, that's going to be forgotten about. For me, it's all about football. And if it gets done, it gets done. But until then, it's focused on that first game really."
Speaking publicly for the first time about his contract situation, Houston did not share much information on the state of negotiations or his emotions.
"It's in god's hands, I'm here to play football and I'm not going to worry about that," Houston said. "I'm here to help better the team and do what the coaches ask of me."
But the linebacker's feelings were obvious when he boycotted the team's offseason program and the mandatory mini-camp that cost him just less than $70,000 in fines. He's in the final year of his rookie deal that came with his third-round draft position. Houston fell to that spot after testing positive for marijuana at the 2011 NFL Combine. In 43 games over his first three seasons, he has 26.5 sacks and 180 total tackles. Houston also had a sack of Andrew Luck in last season's first-round game in the playoffs against the Colts.
Before the extension was completed with Charles, the Chiefs had $9.4 million available under the 2014 salary cap. Given the money that starting quarterbacks and pass rushing outside linebackers receive in the league, there appeared little chance the team could sign both players to long-term deals in the next few months. They may be forced to use their franchise player tag again come next spring if they've not reached agreements.
A decision had to be made on just how important to the team's future is the current starting quarterback. Based on a lack of agreement to this point, it would seem the team would like to keep Smith, but they don't view him as a franchise player at the position.
Good quarterbacks are expensive in the NFL. Great quarterbacks are really expensive. Smith is a good quarterback. Are the Chiefs ready to give him mega-millions to solidify the most important position on the field? If it's not Smith, then who is going to be the man? Finding that guy is going to cost money. If they decide Smith is worth a major investment, then it's going to limit what they can do with other players looking for big money.
It's the biggest challenge Dorsey has faced in his first 20 months on the job.
Rookies reported: July 20
Veterans reported: July 23
First practice: July 24
Camp ends: Aug. 14
--The Chiefs are in the final season of a five-year guarantee to hold their training camp at Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph. There are five one-year deals on the books, but the local folks in St. Joe and Buchanan County would like to see a firm agreement reached with the team sooner, rather than later. Head coach Andy Reid had high praise for the folks at the college, but begged off any idea of what the future holds for his team's training camp.
"I'll tell you the people have been tremendous," Reid said. "I'll leave that up to Mark (Donovan, team president) and Clark (Hunt, team chairman). They do that part of it, the negotiation part, so I'm not involved. The people here have been phenomenal. They take great care of us. We sure have enjoyed it."
--Other than their fans, the Chiefs will not have visitors to training camp in St. Joseph this year, or any year it seems if Andy Reid is the head coach. There are 10 teams in the league that are going to spend at least one day working against another NFL team. Atlanta and New England will practice against two different teams in the course of the next four weeks.
"I've never been that big on it," Reid said. "I know a lot of teams do it; a lot of successful teams do it. I just don't want to give anyone anything that I don't have to give; there's already enough of that right here (in camp.) I really don't go there; that's just not the way I've done it before."
--Last season's NFL No. 1 draft choice Eric Fisher has moved back to his college position at left tackle; he spent his rookie season playing right tackle. Along the way, Fisher injured his shoulder and post-season surgery was required. That allowed him to come to camp early and work on the field with the rookies and other veterans returning from injury.
"It felt good being out there today," Fisher said of returning to left tackle. "I'm glad to be back in my old position. It felt natural and I'm really excited about it." Fisher said he weighed in at 315 pounds. "I'm happy with that weight and I think they are happy with that weight," Fisher said.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Aaron Murray was full-go for the start of training camp, less than eight months after tearing the ACL in his left knee and undergoing surgery. Murray is wearing a brace, but he's not exhibited any problem in movement in the Chiefs.
--RB Joe McKnight underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after the Chiefs mini-camp was completed and he began training camp on the physically unable to perform list. McKnight is fighting for a roster spot as the No. 3 running back and potentially kick returner.
--CB David Van Dyke was placed on the physically unable to perform list due to a hamstring injury he suffered during the team's offseason program.
--G Rokevious Watkins was placed on the non-football injury list on Thursday when he showed up for training camp with a disc problem in his back.
--S Sanders Commings was placed on the non-football injury list on Thursday when he showed up to training camp with a foot strain. Head coach Andy Reid did not think it was a serious injury that would keep Commings out of extensive practice time.
--TE Sean McGrath did not report to training camp and apparently is contemplating his future as an NFL player. Head coach Andy Reid said: "Sean is working some things out right now, some personal things." When asked directly if McGrath was considering retirement, Reid said: "He's contemplating some things, going through some things. We'll let you know."
--LB Josh Mauga was on the field for Thursday's practice after he was signed Wednesday evening. Mauga previously played for the New York Jets and sat out the 2013 season after suffering a pectoral injury.
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DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--LB Dee Ford (1/23): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Phillip Gaines (3/87): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB De'Anthony Thomas (4/124): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Aaron Murray (5/163): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Zach Fulton (6/193): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (6/200): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Husain Abdullah: UFA; terms unknown.
--LS Thomas Gafford: Potential UFA; $730,000/1 yr.
--TE Richard Gordon: Potential RFA; $645,000/1 yr.
--WR Kyle Williams: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Frank Zombo: Potential UFA; $1.625M/2 yrs, $100,000 SB.
--DT Jermelle Cudjo: FA Rams; terms unknown.
--T Ryan Harris: Not tendered as UFA by Texans; terms unknown.
--G/T Jeff Linkenbach: UFA Colts; terms unknown.
--DT Kyle Love: Not tendered as RFA by Jaguars; terms unknown.
--LB Josh Mauga: Not tendered as UFA by Jets; terms unknown.
--ILB Joe Mays: UFA Texans; $6M/2 yrs.
--RB Joe McKnight: FA; $645,000/1 yr.
--CB Christopher Owens: UFA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--CB Justin Rogers: FA; terms unknown.
--CB Kevin Rutland: FA; $570,000/1 yr.
--CB DeMarcus Van Dyke: FA; $645,000/1 yr.
--DT Vance Walker: UFA Raiders; $10.02M/3 yrs, $3M SB.
--OT J'Marcus Webb: UFA Vikings; terms unknown.
--T Branden Albert: UFA Dolphins; $46M/5 yrs, $8.5M SB/$25M guaranteed.
--G Jon Asamoah: UFA Falcons; $22.5M/5 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--S Quintin Demps: UFA Giants; $1M/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$100,000 RB.
--CB Brandon Flowers (released).
--LB Robert James (released).
--DT Tyson Jackson: UFA Falcons: $25M/5 yrs.
--TE Dominique Jones (released).
--LB Akeem Jordan: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Kendrick Lewis: UFA Texans; $795,000/1 yr, $100,000 guaranteed.
--WR Dexter McCluster: UFA Titans; $12M/3 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.
--DE Brandon Moore (released).
--DT Jerrell Powe: Not tendered as ERFA/Texans; terms unknown.
--CB Dunta Robinson (released).
--G Geoff Schwartz: UFA Giants; $16.8M/4 yrs, $3.2M SB/$6.2M guaranteed.
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