Chiefs cuts on tap?


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Jan 22, 2006
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Chiefs cuts on tap?

By Rick Dean
The Capital-Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- How do you meet a budget when you don't know the bottom line?

That's the dilemma facing the Kansas City Chiefs and other NFL teams who must meet a salary cap limit today despite not knowing what that number was as of Wednesday.

The NFL's failure Wednesday to extend its collective bargaining agreement with its players union -- a move that could have increased the salary cap to $100 million or more -- meant the clubs could be looking at a limit of as low as $92 million.

That's bad news for the Chiefs, who reportedly had 2006 salary obligations of $120 million before they began budget-cutting negotiations.

Chiefs president Carl Peterson confirmed Wednesday that the team had approached "less than 10 players" seeking renegotiations of their 2006 contracts. Some agreed to cap-friendly restructuring or playing for less money. Others who didn't will be released today when the team faces a 3 p.m. league deadline.

Peterson declined to identify any of the players involved but said the club was prepared to meet what he called "a worst-case scenario" of a $92 million ceiling -- a figure the league projected in December.

"We've made the hard decision to say goodbye to some people, though I haven't had the chance to talk to all of them yet," Peterson said, adding that the decisions were based on performance and cap considerations.

The NFL, after breaking off talks with the players union over a new CBA that would raise the amount teams can spend on players, called an emergency meeting today in New York. The final 2006 cap limit was expected to be finalized then.

If the final cap is considerably higher than $92 million, the Chiefs could use the extra room to re-sign its own free agents -- most notably starters Tony Richardson and Lional Dalton -- or court new ones. If that doesn't happen, Kansas City can't be as active as it was during the 2005 offseason when it signed four free agent defensive players.

"This year will be very difficult," Peterson said. "You can't spend cash and cap dollars like we did a year ago in two consecutive years."

Among the '06 Chiefs considered possible cap casualties are linebacker Kendrell Bell, who has a $7.2 million cap number this year, injured running back Priest Holmes ($5.3 million), guard Will Shields ($6.6 million), linebacker Shawn Barber ($4.7 million), starting cornerback Eric Warfield ($4.2 million cap number) and reserve corner Dexter McCleon ($2.77 million).

Craig Domann, the Atchison native who represents Warfield, said he had heard nothing from the Chiefs about either asking Warfield to play for less or releasing him outright.

"He very well could be (a cap casualty), but they've said nothing to me, which wouldn't be that unusual," Domann said.

Warfield said Tuesday he'd heard nothing from the team or new coach Herm Edwards since his hiring in January. He wondered if the silent treatment was a sign that he no longer fits in the team's plans.

Bell was one of Kansas City's four major defensive free agent signings last year. He was a disappointing non-factor in his first season with the Chiefs, and the second-year of his contract is heavily loaded with bonuses.
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