Brett Veach: Chiefs are trying to be proactive with their salary cap

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The Chiefs parted ways with a couple of cornerstone defensive players in recent days, and saw several other players leave in free agency and trade. On Thursday, G.M. Brett Veach addressed the media regarding the tough decisions that the AFC finalists had to make.

“Change is inevitable and it’s always hard to move on from players who have been here,” Veach told reporters. “I think it certainly makes it more difficult when change involves long-standing members of the community and the locker room — certainly talking about Eric Berry and Justin Houston. What two guys better exemplify that? As everyone knows, these guys were outstanding players. All the accomplishments on the field will certainly never be forgotten. One of the things that Clark [Hunt], Andy [Reid], and I will always talk about too is just the impact they’ve had on the community and the great things they’ve done for the people here in Kansas City. It’s certainly very difficult, but again change is a part of this process.

“Also, I want to wish the best of luck to Steve Nelson, Mitch Morse, Demetrius Harris, all those guys. Really proud of what they were able to do here and really excited for them and the contracts they got. Excited for their families. All those guys were integral parts of our success. Also, Dee Ford, of course as you guys were made aware of, we were able to reach a trade with San Francisco for a 2020 second-round selection. Excited for Dee and his family. John Lynch got a great player. I feel like after the trade went through, both teams were in good positions moving forward.”

It’s one thing to not be able to re-sign players in free agency, it’s another thing to cut players who already were under contract. Veach was asked to explain why he released Berry and Houston.

“Looking both now and into the future, we have a lot of great young talent and we have guys like Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Tyreek Hill,” Veach said. “One of the things we made a strong effort on when I took over was to make sure we had good young talent in the pipeline, but we were also cap flexible, and we had draft capital. The cap was certainly a big part of these decisions — where we were and what was going to be utilized in regard to cap space and how we can maneuver ourselves to potentially do long-term extensions with the younger players. I think the fact that we have a one and two twos [this year] and then a one and two twos next year puts us in a position to be aggressive from now until the start of the season. I certainly think you start with the cap and they are tough decisions. But I think it’s something that looking towards not just next season, but for the next two, three, four, five years, if you’re not proactive in your approach then you’re always chasing your tail and you’re always in a position where you don’t have draft capital, or you don’t have cap space.”

It’s a good problem to have, but that good problem quickly becomes a bad problem if a team with multiple great players spends and spends and spends and then has nothing left. Thus, in order to have cash and cap space for players like Mahomes and Hill and Jones, players like Berry and Houston and Ford had to go. Eventually, Hill and Jones will be deemed expendable in favor of other younger, ascending players.

Through it all, though, the Chiefs will have Mahomes at the nucleus of their roster, with his contract being the top priority. The Chiefs eventually will find out where Mahomes lands on the scale that stretches from Peyton Manning grabbing every last dollar to Tom Brady leaving millions on the table every year. The closer Mahomes is to Manning — and Mahomes has every right to go there — the more challenging it will be to put a top-shelf team around him on a consistent basis.