The Chiefs have created approximately $6 million in cap room for 2016 by restructuring the contract of outside linebacker Justin Houston.
The Chiefs, who had a little over $5.1 million in cap space prior to the move, the least in football, now have approximately $11.1 million in space, according to NFL Players Association records. That is more than 11 other teams.
The extra cap space — Houston’s cap number in 2016 has fallen from $19.1 million to $13.1 million — allows the Chiefs greater flexibility when it comes to signing a free agent or extending a current player’s contact. The Chiefs have a pair of key Pro Bowlers who are set to hit free agency in 2017 in safety Eric Berry, 28, and nose tackle Dontari Poe, 26.
The Chiefs don’t necessarily have to do anything with the money this year, however. Houston’s restructure added $1.5 million to his cap number from 2017 to 2020 — his cap number for 2017 is now $22.1 million instead of $20.6 — but because cap room rolls over to the next year in the NFL, the Chiefs will gain about $4.5 million in cap room for next year if they don’t use the money this season.
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That could prove handy, as the Chiefs already have approximately $167 million committed for 2017, which could be in the general vicinity of the NFL’s league-wide team cap number, based on the steady inflation of the past few years.
This year’s cap number is $155.27 million, an approximate increase of $12 million from the 2015 cap of $143.28 million.
Houston, 27, will miss the first six weeks of the season as he recovers from offseason ACL surgery on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He will be re-evaluated by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews during the Chiefs’ bye week, which is after their Oct. 2 road tilt against Pittsburgh.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported over the weekend, citing a source, that the Chiefs think Houston can return in November. The Chiefs have not said that publicly, though general manager John Dorsey predicted in April that Houston will play this year, comments he seemed to slightly back off from in August.
Houston, a four-time Pro Bowler, signed a six-year, $101 million contract in July 2015.