Chiefs might be better off saving their salary-cap windfall

Ironic as it might seem, the Kansas City Chiefs suddenly have a lot more money to spend after signing linebacker Justin Houston to a six-year contract worth $101 million. The signing lowered Houston’s salary-cap number this year to $5.1 million from $13.2 million, which is what Houston was costing the Chiefs against their cap when he was unsigned and their franchise player.

So that’s about an extra $8 million for the Chiefs to blow. Estimates for their current available funds under the salary cap range from about $8.6 million (the NFL Players Association figure) to $9.6 million (ESPN’s number). Either way, that’s enough cap space for the Chiefs to dive back into the free-agent market.

That might not be the best use of that salary-cap space. There are some intriguing veterans available as free agents, including wide receivers Reggie Wayne and James Jones, and guard Evan Mathis.

None are worth overspending for. Mathis might make the most sense. The Chiefs have yet to identify a starting right guard and Mathis played for Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reid said last month the Chiefs wouldn’t be pursuing Mathis, though that may have had more to do what their cap-strapped situation at the time. Wayne and Jones certainly would have been worth a big expenditure earlier in their respective careers, but probably not at this point.

It’s a better idea for the Chiefs to save their cap room until somebody more interesting comes along. If nobody does, they can utilize that available cap space to start re-signing some of their own players who would be free agents next year. Cornerback Sean Smith, offensive linemen Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson, linebacker Derrick Johnson, and safety Eric Berry are among the players in that category.

The Chiefs can also carry over to next year’s cap any unused portion this year. That also would be a better alternative than wasting it now.