Clark Hunt says Chiefs are close to being championship caliber

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt made the media rounds before the Super Bowl in San Francisco late last week and he had some interesting comments in his session with radio station WHB in Kansas City.

Hunt sounded as if the Chiefs would try to make a run largely with the cast of players they have as opposed to making large-scale changes.

“We do feel very, very good about where the team is,’’ Hunt said. “We’re disappointed not to be playing this weekend. We do believe we have a team that was capable of doing it. It’s probably a good reminder of how important it is to win the division and to get one of those byes. I think some of the injuries we had in the last game of the season up in New England impacted the team, and if you get that bye you get the chance to get those guys healthy.

“I do think we have a lot of the ingredients that you need in order to make it to the Super Bowl, namely a great head coach and his coaching staff, a quality quarterback and a tough defense. I think we have those ingredients and we have a lot of players who are entering the prime of their careers, and hopefully we’ll be playing in Super Bowl 51 next year.’’

The Chiefs have 15 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents and 10 of them were regulars in some fashion last year. Among the group are Pro Bowlers Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry as well as other productive players like cornerback Sean Smith, defensive lineman Jaye Howard and offensive lineman Jeff Allen.

“Free agency and the [salary] cap are a challenge each year,’’ Hunt said. “We have a number of free agents this year, important players. We are in pretty good cap shape, maybe the best cap shape we’ve been in for a few years. Certainly getting those players re-signed is going to be a big priority for us here over the next couple of months.’’

Hunt also touched on a couple of other points of interest. On the impact to the Chiefs of the Rams leaving St. Louis and Missouri for Los Angeles: “I don’t really think having the Rams move impacts us one way or another. There are a lot of passionate Rams fans in St. Louis and I don’t think just overnight they’re going to become Chiefs fans. We don’t really have a specific focus or plans to go over there and market in the near term.’’

On the Chargers remaining in San Diego for at least one more year as opposed to joining the Rams in Los Angeles: “We do feel very strongly about our division and the great rivalries that we have that go back now 56 years. The Chargers have been in San Diego for 55 of those 56 years so certainly it’s something our fans are accustomed to. Thinking about the game we played out there this year, we had thousands of fans that made the trip out there to San Diego and I know they enjoyed going out there and beating up on Philip Rivers.’’