Kansas City Chiefs trying to re-sign key players Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson

By The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 27, 2016 at 10:27 AM
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey holds a busy dance card for the offseason. Kansas City has major defensive contributors without contracts for the 2016 season and holes in the roster that will dictate strategy for the NFL draft.

Unlike his first three seasons with the Chiefs, Dorsey begins the process with room to maneuver under the league's salary cap: he has $30-plus million in available cap space. He will need those funds if the Chiefs want to retain important defensive contributors like safety Eric Berry, cornerback Sean Smith, linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali and defensive linemen Jaye Howard and Mike DeVito. Without new deals, all of those defenders will soon be available on the NFL free-agent market.

Dorsey acknowledged at the NFL Combine that discussions on new deals have already begun with reps for Berry and Johnson. "We've had really good discussions" so far with Berry's agent, Dorsey said. Although he'll be 34 years old late in the 2016 season, Johnson is definitely a player the Chiefs want to retain. "We are not going to let good football players go in this thing," Dorsey said.

Outside linebackers Hali and Justin Houston both underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after the season. Houston missed five games because of a hyperextended knee and Hali missed one game and was limited in his participation because of inflammation on his knee. There does not appear to be any long-range consequences for either pass rusher. Hali took a cut in pay last season, signing a contract for multiple seasons that will be dropped as soon as the league year begins in March.

Dorsey also indicated there are no questions internally about Jamaal Charles and the running back's immediate future with the Chiefs. Dorsey said Charles is ahead of schedule in his rehab from the torn ACL that ended his 2015 season after five games.

"Before I left for Indianapolis, I saw Jamaal out there diligently working out in the training room and when I came back downstairs and he's in the weight room," said Dorsey.

Offensively, the major question in the next few weeks will be whether the Chiefs can retain Chase Daniel as their backup quarterback. Daniel is finishing a three-year, $10 million deal he signed in 2013. The 29-year-old Daniel wants the chance to be an NFL starting quarterback; he has two starts in seven seasons with the Chiefs and New Orleans. Dorsey would like to keep Daniel, but will not partake in any bidding war for him.

"At the right price, I'll try to retain him," Dorsey said. "But I understand the business of the game of football and he's going to want to be able to see if he can start. I do believe he's capable of doing that. So that process will be ongoing."

The Chiefs' general manager also said the No. 2 quarterback for the 2016 season was currently on the roster, whether Daniel stays or youngsters Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray move up.

--Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and Kansas City civic leaders continue to live in the dream world of bringing the Super Bowl to Arrowhead Stadium. It's been a subject of discussion for several years now, but talk is about the extent of the action.

Kansas City has two major problems hosting a Super Bowl: the weather in early February and the lack of quality hotel rooms. Upscale lodging could be added over the years, but that's not going to change the average temperature in February for Middle America.

But the Chiefs continue to be active lobbying the league and the Kansas City business community for very personal reasons: the fingerprints of team founder Lamar Hunt on the game.

"For the Chiefs, it has a little bit of a special meaning because of our family's tie to the creation of the Super Bowl, the naming of the Super Bowl," Hunt told the Kansas City Star. "And it certainly was a dream of my dad's."

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