The agent for pending free-agent guard Geoff Schwartz met with the Chiefs during the NFL Combine and said the team has interest in bringing back Schwartz, though the two sides may not agree on money.
“Geoff Schwartz loved it in Kansas City and would love to come back in Kansas City,” Deryk Gilmore said. “It’s just that he wants to be wanted, and hopefully Kansas City wants him. He’s a starter and he wants to be paid like a starter.”
Despite starting only eight games last season, the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Schwartz posted a plus-18.6 Pro Football Focus grade, the highest of any Chiefs offensive lineman, and was rated as the site’s top free-agent guard. He was playing on a one-year, $700,000 contract.
Gilmore refused to specify the terms he’s seeking, but similar players who hit the market at Schwartz’s position last offseason signed multi-year deals.
Andy Levitre, Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 free-agent guard in 2012 with a grade of plus-17.3, signed a multi-year deal with Tennessee that paid him a base salary of $2.5 million last season and $6.5 million this year.
The No. 4 guard, Louis Vasquez of Denver (plus-12.7), signed for base salaries of $2 million in 2013 and $3 million in 2014. The No. 5 guard, Donald Thomas (plus-11.2), signed with Indianapolis for base salaries of $2.5 million in 2013 and $3.5 million in 2014.
Those are hardly prohibitive salaries in today’s NFL, but as it stands, the Chiefs will need to free up cap room to be a player in free agency. The league has set the 2014 salary cap at $133 million, which should give the Chiefs roughly $9.62 million in cap space, according to salary cap expert Joel Corry.
However, the Chiefs must also fit upcoming draft picks under the cap — which will take roughly $5.5 million, according to Corry — and it remains to be seen if they’re willing to pay what it might take to retain Schwartz.
Schwartz, 28, just completed his sixth year. He took over as the Chiefs’ right guard in Week 12 because of an injury to Jon Asamoah, starting five of the next six games, only resting for the Week 17 game against San Diego. Schwartz showed his versatility in that game, however, as he played right tackle.
He played in 14 games total last season, including three at left guard, where he also made one start.
Free agency begins league-wide on March 11, but teams can negotiate with their own free agents until then.