NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested Friday the league will explore the implementation of instant replay to review penalties and will consider expanding the playoffs from the current 12-team format.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt is in favor of both changes.
Hunt would like to see an additional team added to the playoffs in each conference, with only the No. 1 seed receiving a first-round bye instead of the top two seeds receiving byes.
“We as an organization has always felt the first two seeds have too big of an advantage by getting to sit out that first week and get their injured players healthy,” Hunt said. “I do think it’s worth rewarding the team that wins the conference with a game off. So if you add a playoff game to each side, you can reshuffle it so the top team gets a bye.”
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Expanding the playoffs by a team in each conference would mean 14 of 32 teams would qualify for the post-season, or 44 percent of the league.
“I don’t think that would be too many playoff teams,” Hunt said. “People talk about diluting the playoffs. To me, you haven’t diluted it at that point.”
Had the playoffs been expanded by a team in each conference in 2014, the Chiefs, 9-7, would have missed the last playoff spot in a tie-breaker with Houston.
The change in using replay to review penalties has gained momentum after a questionable pass-interference penalty was called in the Detroit-Dallas playoff game.
The Chiefs were victims of a dubious offensive penalty called against tight end Anthony Fasano in a loss at Arizona. A wide-open Fasano was in the end zone when he caught a touchdown pass that was nullified by the penalty. Replays showed he barely came in contact with a defender and it was well before the pass was in the air.
“That should have been a touchdown and maybe that’s the play that changes our season, and we’re sitting here playing this weekend,” said Hunt.
Hunt’s father, the late Lamar Hunt, was not a proponent of replay in its inception, but Clark said, “At this point, it’s a big positive, not only because it gets calls correct on the field, but from an entertainment standpoint, for the TV audience, I think it really adds a lot.
“After experiencing it enough, my father felt the same way. He was always sensitive to the fans in the stands, and as long as the delays are not too long … now they have iPhones … replay is going to continue to expand.”
Hunt also touched on the Chiefs’ need to solve their salary-cap issues so they can re-sign players like linebacker Justin Houston and center Rodney Hudson, whose contracts are up, and add players through free agency.
Several players, such as linebacker Tamba Hali ($11.9 million), wide receiver Dwayne Bowe ($14 million) and backup quarterback Chase Daniel ($4.8 million), have cap numbers for 2015 that will make it difficult for the Chiefs to upgrade the roster unless they’re released or agree to restructure their contracts.
If the Chiefs have to place the franchise tag on Houston, it would cost them up to $13.5 million for 2015 to keep him off the free-agent market.
Houston set the club’s single-season sack record with 22 in 2014 — a sack shy of breaking the NFL mark — and Hunt plans on him playing for the Chiefs next year and beyond.
“In addition to Justin being an unbelievable football player, Justin is a great leader,” Hunt said. “He’s the type of player we would love to have associated with the franchise for a very long time, if not his entire career.”
How to pay Houston and keep others is another matter.
“We’re at that point with the team where I don’t want to say we have an old team, because we don’t, but we have a mature team,” Hunt said. “We have some very talented players, and like last year, there will be tough decisions that we have to make. It’s part of living with the salary cap.
“That’s (general manager) John Dorsey’s biggest challenge, figuring that out … figuring out who we subtract, who we add to try to get better.”