11 Kansas City Chiefs Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014

Brett GeringCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2014

11 Kansas City Chiefs Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014

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    Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs' season is over.

    And yes, you probably spent the last two days in some kind of depressed, nihilistic, "Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual, work" state of mind. 

    But remember, in the span of a year, this team's missteps went from cynically comical to heart-wrenching. Going from a two-win travesty to a bona fide playoff contender isn't supposed to happen—not in professional sports. 

    With Heartbreak City in the rearview, it's never too soon to look forward to what lies on the other end of the horizon. 

    By "roster bubble," we're not exclusively talking about names who might survive the 53-man cut. We're talking about players, whether due to their poor performance and/or contract dilemmas, whom Kansas City might bid bon voyage to. 

    The easiest way to predict the future? Glance at what said players are scheduled to earn in 2014, then take a look at where their all-inclusive salary ranks among positional peers and juxtapose it with their relative production. 

    For instance, if a team considers releasing an overpaid but serviceable running back (who's still under contract), but the move, due to dead money, would only free up $700,000 in 2014 cap space, then the release would be counterproductive—odds are, you're not finding another effective rusher in the neighborhood of $700,000. 

    With that out of the way, let's sift through a band of players whose offseason fate hangs in the balance.

11. FS Husain Abdullah

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    Before the regular-season's first whistle, I thought that Kendrick Lewis might eventually lose his starting job to Sanders Commings or Husain Abdullah. 

    Commings, due to a broken collarbone, only participated in three snaps. But to this day, I'm still baffled as to why Abdullah didn't see more playing time. 

    Throughout last Sunday's plot-twisting revelation, No. 39 victimized Andrew Luck for two interceptions (and nearly a third), and he allowed only 9.3 yards per catch—one-tenth less than Eric Berry—in the club's 16 (regular-season) contests.

    Maybe Reid, given Abdullah's unfamiliarity with the scheme and his year away from football, didn't feel the safety was up to speed from a schematic standpoint. Regardless, the veteran would've been hard-pressed to perform worse than Lewis did. 

     

    Pro Football Focus (PFF) Position Rank: No. 35 of 171

    Position Cap Hit (2014): Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA); $555,000 in 2013 (No. 93)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

10. G/T Geoff Schwartz

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    For whatever reason, regardless of which organization he plays for, Geoff Schwartz seems to get slighted. It's not in terms of games played but in terms of starts. 

    Before coming to Kansas City, the same broken record played in Minnesota

    Schwartz allowed only two sacks and six hurries in 498 snaps, and he's one of the NFL's most underrated run-blockers. 

    Also, he and his dog, Oslo Pepperoni, double as the Chiefs' best Twitter follows. If that's taken away from Kansas Citians, I'm flying a "Fire Dorsey!" banner on the GM's birthday.

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 8 of 144

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $700,000 in 2013 (No. 71 amongst tackles)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

9. SS/KR Quintin Demps

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    This one's not as clear-cut.

    On one hand, Quintin Demps was mind-numbingly awful as a strong safety. Time and again, he bit the bait and made incorrect reads, leading to receivers torching the deep coverage for untimely touchdowns.

    On the other hand, he spearheaded a record-breaking kickoff return team by averaging 30.1 yards per opportunity. 

    His (potential) contract is a double-edged sword.

    Knile Davis, who actually boasts a better average (32.1) than Demps, has proven to be a more-than-capable returner himself. However, every so often, his fumbling issues come back to haunt him and, like last Sunday, his services will be unavailable if Jamaal Charles is sidelined. 

    Ultimately, as long as Demps' asking price isn't inflated, the Chiefs will re-sign him to another short-term contract. 

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 139 of 171

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $555,000 in 2013 (No. 93)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

8. CB Dunta Robinson

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    Throughout 2013, John Dorsey scoured the free-agent market and waiver wire, gradually plucking a laudable collection of diamonds.

    Dunta Robinson? Cubic zirconia. From eBay. Made in Cambodia.

    If anything, the signing was insurance in case things went south with Sean Smith's negotiations. Instead, Kansas City inked both of them, and Robinson steadily regressed into a bench-warming shell. 

    In his rookie season, the bone-rattling cornerback forced three fumbles, three sacks and snagged a buzz-worthy six picks. The problem? That was 2004, and knee injuries have sent his career nosediving. 

    In man coverage, which lays the groundwork for Bob Sutton's defense, Robinson doesn't possess enough speed nor quickness to stay with receivers on any route not named "comeback" or "hitch."

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 167 of 199

    Position Cap Hit (2014): $5.3 million (No. 24)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: $3.3 million

    Offseason Outcome: Released

7. ILB Akeem Jordan

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    Bob Sutton deploys a lot of pass-oriented sub-packages, which tends to come at the expense of Akeem Jordan's playing time. 

    That being said, when the Chiefs line up in their base defense, Jordan makes his presence known. He's not going to register gaudy stat totals, but that's not his job. 

    As a 3-4 strong-side linebacker, he's primarily tasked with absorbing and shedding lead blockers. In that respect, he tied with Brian Cushing as PFF's No. 5 3-4 inside linebacker against the run. 

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 11 of 55 (3-4 ILBs)

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $575,000 (No. 67)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

6. WR Donnie Avery

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    Unless some praiseworthy prodigy falls in Kansas City's lap, there's little doubt in my mind that it drafts a wideout at No. 23. Depending on how the draft and combine unfolds, the Chiefs could keep tabs on playmakers like Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. Or maybe they'll gamble on a free agent like the oft-injured Jeremy Maclin (but don't count on it). 

    Irrespective of which path they travel, they're going down said road for one reason: Donnie Avery isn't a No. 2 receiver. 

    Despite the vast majority of his routes being of the vertical nature, Avery tallied just 596 receiving yards. Furthermore, he dropped 11.1 percent of his passes in 2013, and he accounted for the fourth-most drops among receivers in 2012—a year in which he received 42 more targets.  

    To add insult to injury, he's also a subpar blocker (and that's being kind). 

    Unless the Chiefs find themselves with a wealth of cap room, which most likely won't be the case, Avery's probably taking a number and joining the 2014 unemployment line. 

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 100 of 105

    Position Cap Hit (2014): $2.85 million (No. 42)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: $1.35

    Offseason Outcome: Released

5. FS Kendrick Lewis

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    Most of you probably don't have to explore this slide to know the verdict. 

    Bob Sutton holds the Cover 1 concept dear to his heart; a concept that comes packaged with two prerequisites: physical, menacing cornerbacks and a trustworthy deep safety. 

    In terms of deep safeties, Kendrick Lewis is Tim DonaghyLord Haw-HawFredo Corleone. He'll betray your trust in half a heartbeat.

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, a kid's getting earmuff-ed; fool me three times, I'm filing for bankruptcy after three Arrowhead Budweisers. 

    Joking aside, Lewis regularly commits to misjudged angles and, like Quintin Demps, allows wideouts to blow past him like a Le Mans checkpoint. Even when he's in position to offer over-the-top assistance, he doesn't flash the necessary closing speed.

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 132 of 171

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $1.38 in 2013 (No. 46)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Not re-signed

4. DE Tyson Jackson

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    Although Tyson Jackson has distanced himself from the "bust" stigma, he's still more than a stone's throw away from living up to his pre-draft expectations. 

    He has notched seven combined sacks throughout the past two years, which is, unfortunately, a drastic improvement from seasons past. That being said, due to a restructured deal, those were also contract years. 

    A 3-4 defensive end's primary obligation is to plug lanes and disrupt the run. Mike DeVito and Dontari Poe are run-stuffing specialists. Jackson? Not so much. He's more than sufficient—don't get me wrong. His performance just isn't on par with the other two.

    Plus, to put Jackson's rotund salary into perspective, consider this: DeVito and Poe's combined 2013 earnings (bonuses included) were 68 percent of Jackson's.  

    With younger, more affordable options waiting in the wings, namely Allen Bailey and Mike Catapano, Jackson's bound to plant a "for sale" sign in his lawn this summer. 

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 14 of 80 (3-4 DEs)

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $7.2 million in 2013 (No. 16)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Not re-signed

3. G Jon Asamoah

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    Letting Jon Asamoah walk would be borderline shocking.

    His pass blocking has improved by leaps and bounds—Asamoah forfeited just one sack in 402 passing plays—and he's an effective run-blocker. 

    However, if there's one knock on the 305-pounder, it's that he touts average athleticism. That, at times, can conflict with Andy Reid's dynamic offense, which is brimming with screens and other various plays that require fluid blocking. In fact, last Sunday's strip-sack of Alex Smith stemmed from Robert Mathis beating Anthony Fasano and a pulling Jeff Allen. 

    At the end of the day, though, Asamoah's one of the few Chiefs linemen who brings some semblance of consistency to the table. Also, presuming that Eric Fisher remains at right tackle, recruiting a new guard would only hinder the No. 1 pick's progress. 

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 20 of 144 

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $1.55 million (No. 40)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

2. WR/PR Dexter McCluster

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    In all likelihood, Dexter McCluster reigns as the most diverse talent in the NFL. That's not to say that he excels in every facet, but he's a 5'8" pocket knife who demands defensive attention. 

    As a slot receiver, McCluster secured 67.9 percent of passes slung in his direction—only 20 receivers recorded a higher percentage. 

    He has a very particular set of skills, but ultimately, his niche at returning punts is what dubs him "irreplaceable." Only one other punt returner, Tavon Austin, authored two touchdowns, and McCluster's average (12.2 yards) eclipsed Austin's (8.7) by 3.5 yards.

    In other words, if a punter drives the first-time Pro Bowler back to his team's 28-yard line, it's a safe bet that Alex Smith and Co. will trot out somewhere close to the Kansas City 40. 

    He's an offense's best friend, and Andy Reid hasn't been shy about his fondness of the Chiefs' multifaceted magician.

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 135 of 216

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $1.4 million in 2013 (No. 67)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

1. T Branden Albert

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    No surprise here. This is the decision that will, one way or another, sculpt Kansas City's offseason, and it involves no shortage of considerations (bear with me).  

    First, let's keep things simple. Branden Albert is one of the better pass-blockers in the league. He allowed only four sacks in 555 passing downs, which, considering that he's usually fending off teams' best pass-rushers, is nothing if not commendable. He also limited the opposition to 13 hurries in 12 games.

    But that's the thing: Albert has missed nine starts since 2012. Time to delve into the hypotheticals.

    Let's say the Chiefs elect not to renew the lease. As of now, there's only one other left tackle worthy of a bidding war: Carolina's Jordan Gross.

    Gross is a far more effective run-blocker, and although he's 33 years old—which will, depending on his desired length, also dictate teams' interest—he has only been absent from the lineup once throughout the past four seasons. 

    During 575 dropbacks, Gross (somehow) drew just one flag, while surrendering six sacks and one quarterback hit. Edge-rushers hurried the passer on 3.8 percent of passing plays. Albert, in only 20 less passing plays, committed eight more penalties and forfeited five more hits, but he sacrificed two fewer sacks. Also, on average, defensive ends pressured his quarterback less often (2.3 percent of passes). 

    What might tip the scales in Albert's favor is his leadership, as well as the chemistry he shares with his 300-plus-pound peers. That, in turn, brings us to the nonexclusive franchise tag, which would ensure the Chiefs two first-round picks if Albert signs an offer sheet with another franchise. 

    CBS' Joel Corry, a former agent, projected that franchising an offensive lineman will cost a cool $11.1 million this upcoming season. However, since Kansas City already tagged Albert last year, it would actually have to dole out 120 percent of his 2013 salary, which equals out to a hefty $11.8 million.

    All things considered, re-signing Albert to a front-loaded contract makes the most sense. Although Eric Fisher showed signs of improvement—giving up one sack in his final five contests—his rough start gives cause to pause, even if he's relocated back to his natural (left) side. 

    Furthermore, if the Chiefs enforce the franchise tag for the second consecutive season, they'll just be delaying the inevitable until 2015—a year in which Alex Smith's contract expires. 

    Something tells me that John Dorsey would rather, if given the chance, avoid that kind of number-crunching nausea by re-signing Albert now. 

     

    PFF Position Rank: No. 28 of 128

    Position Cap Hit (2014): UFA; $9.8 million in 2013 (No. 4)

    Net Gain/Loss from Release: N/A

    Offseason Outcome: Re-signed

     

    Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Contract information provided by Spotrac.

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