The numbers for wide receiver DeSean Jackson's new contract with the Washington Redskins are in. Turns out the Kansas City Chiefs could have given Jackson the identical contract. But Jackson's contract would have been a tight fit under their salary cap and might have forced them to make some other decisions they would prefer not to.
Jackson's deal, not including a voidable 2017 season, is reportedly for three years and $24 million. His 2014 salary-cap obligations are $1 million for his salary, $2 million for roster and workout bonuses and a $1.25 million proration of his signing bonus. So his cap number is $4.25 million this year.
The Chiefs have about $4.5 million in cap room, so signing Jackson to his Redskins contract would have left them about $250,000 of available cap room. That's not nearly enough to allow the Chiefs to do the things they'd like to do for the rest of 2014. It's not enough to allow them to sign their six draft picks. It's not enough to allow them to extend the contracts of quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Justin Houston before they become free agents in 2015. It's not enough to allow them to make any more significant moves in free agency, now or later if someone they like becomes available.
By signing Jackson, the Chiefs would have been forced to do one of two things. The first is to restructure some existing contracts, which is bad business because it merely pushes the bills into future years. It's a good way to run into cap troubles in future years, and that's something the Chiefs want to avoid.
The remaining option is to cut some of their players. Dwayne Bowe is a seemingly perfect target, except the terms of the contract he signed last year force the Chiefs to keep him. Bowe's salary-cap costs to the Chiefs in 2014 are $10 million more if they release him than if they keep him. So cross him off your list.
The Chiefs could realize some significant salary-cap savings by releasing players like Eric Berry (about $5.8 million), Tamba Hali (about $5.5 million) or cornerback Brandon Flowers ($3.5 million). Releasing any of those players weakens the Chiefs significantly and it's a huge risk to think they could adequately replace any of them in this year's draft given that they have just one of the top 86 picks.
They don't have many other reasonable options that can provide some ample salary-cap room. If the Chiefs had Jackson, Donnie Avery would be expendable. But the salary-cap savings there would be a mere $850,000, which hardly makes it worth the trouble. That alone won't help much.
So from a financial standpoint, the Chiefs could have made Jackson's signing happen. But it would have come at a huge cost in terms of unintended consequences.