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Dead money is considerable but not Chiefs' biggest problem

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- CBSSports.com has a nice look at how dead money is dragging down several NFL teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are seventh in the league in dead money at about $20.5 million, or 14 percent of their allotted salary-cap space.

Dead money is the term used for salary-cap charges for players no longer with the team. For example, Dwayne Bowe costs the Chiefs about $8.9 million against their cap even though he’s playing for the Cleveland Browns and Brandon Flowers takes up $4 million despite playing for the San Diego Chargers.

Dead money consists of bonus money once given to these players and not charged to the salary cap in previous year.

These seven teams, including the 1-4 Chiefs, are all below .500. Their combined record is 9-25.

So the impact of dead money can’t be denied. But it’s not the Chiefs’ biggest problem.

The Chiefs need to get more from the highly paid players on their roster. Quarterback Alex Smith has by a large margin the Chiefs’ biggest cap number this year at $15.6 million. He has five touchdown passes, three interceptions, 21 sacks and one win in five games.

It’s impossible to argue the Chiefs are getting their money’s worth from him.

Eric Berry is next ($8.4 million) and he’s playing well enough to justify the money. But third is cornerback Sean Smith ($7 million), who missed the season’s first three games because of an NFL suspension. Fourth is Eric Fisher (about $6.1 million), who was such a disappointment he had to be moved from left tackle to right.

Among others in the top 10 cap charges for the Chiefs are linebacker Tamba Hali (seventh, about $5 million), quarterback Chase Daniel (eighth, $4.8 million) and punter Dustin Colquitt (ninth, $3.8 million). Hali has one sack, Daniel hasn’t played and Colquitt is, well, a punter.

This is not how the better teams operate. They not only limit the cap charges to players no longer with the team, but get a lot from those still on the payroll.

The Chiefs would have spent at least some of that extra $20.5 million now sitting dead. I’m not sure on what. Coming into the season, they liked the roster they had.

Just because the Chiefs would have spent doesn’t mean they would have done so wisely.