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Q&A: Can Chiefs afford Justin Houston, Tamba Hali?

Here is this week's edition of the Kansas City Chiefs mailbag. To ask a question for a future edition, send it to me via Twitter (@adamteicher) and tag it #ChiefsMail.

@adamteicher: Possible, yes. One outside linebacker, Tamba Hali, is scheduled to cost $12 million against the Chiefs' salary cap next year. That's one reason it's important the Chiefs sign the other, Justin Houston, to a long-term deal next year as opposed to making him the franchise player. They would get Houston at a much cheaper 2015 cost if they do. Hali is playing well enough that the Chiefs should at least try to keep him. The alternative to Hali is Dee Ford, who hasn't yet proved he's ready for a full-time role.

@adamteicher: Houston, defensive lineman Allen Bailey, center Rodney Hudson and fullback Anthony Sherman are some of the top prospective Chiefs free agents. The Chiefs will make an effort to sign all of them. But as they showed last season, when they let a number of their own free agents walk, they won't sign them at any cost. Houston is a premier pass rusher, so the Chiefs will at least make him their franchise player if they otherwise can't work out a deal. I would expect the Chiefs to make competitive offers to the other guys. But particularly in the case of Bailey, other teams may be willing to pay more.

@adamteicher: Safety Eric Berry will play Sunday against the New York Jets for the first time since he suffered a high ankle sprain Sept. 14. I would expect he will start. But the Chiefs went 4-1 without him and they like how Ron Parker played in his absence. So there should be some kind of role for Parker as an extra defensive back in their nickel defense.

@adamteicher: I don't think so. The Chiefs get something if not a lot from wide receiver Donnie Avery most weeks when he plays. You can't say the same thing about A.J. Jenkins. He just isn't giving the Chiefs much in what was a big opportunity for him. Avery isn't a great player but he is fast and an adequate No. 2 wide receiver.

@adamteicher: Good question. Thought Dwayne Bowe at least would have one by now. Sooner or later one of those guys has to score a TD. Right?

@adamteicher: Linebacker Joe Mays is on the short-term injured reserve list and started practice this week. The Chiefs have two weeks left to elevate him to the active roster. If they fail to do so within the two weeks, he won't be able to return this season.

@adamteicher: Remarkable since training camp and the preseason. Gaines, a rookie cornerback, didn't play well at camp and had a miserable final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. But he's played well since the Chiefs had to play him because of injuries. He broke up what otherwise would have been a touchdown pass in the game against San Diego a couple of weeks ago. Given his rate of improvement, it's easy to see a future for him with the Chiefs.