Chiefs general manager John Dorsey briefly addressed the contract status of star outside linebacker Justin Houston on day two of the NFL Combine on Thursday.
“I think Justin Houston is a fine football player,” Dorsey said. “I think what he did this year, I mean, he did a wonderful job. Everybody, we applaud him for that. His representative is in town and I’ve had ongoing discussions with his representative.”
Houston’s representative is agent Joel Segal. If the two sides fail to reach a deal, the Chiefs have the option of designating Houston a franchise player, which would allow them to retain his services in 2015 with a salary cap number of roughly $13 million. The Chiefs, however, will hold off on a franchise tag decision until after the combine.
“Like I’ve said all along, I envision Justin being a Chief,” Dorsey said when asked if the franchise tag is likely in lieu of a deal.
Dorsey was asked about the team’s other top free agents, center Rodney Hudson and safety Ron Parker. Dorsey did not reveal much, however, other than to say he liked both players.
“You’ve known me for a couple years now and I really don’t like talking about the business of football in this venue,” Dorsey said, breaking out one of his pet phrases. “I will say this, I love those guys, I’m proud of those guys, I’m proud of what they bring into that locker room. That’s kind of what I have to say there.”
Dorsey also evaluated receiver Dwayne Bowe’s production in 2014 relative to the team’s cap space. By making Bowe a post-June 1 cut, the Chiefs could save $11 million on this year’s cap but pay more in dead money down the road. By cutting him normally, they could save $5 million and take the dead money hit up front.
“The receivers are going to take some shots because there were no touchdowns, we all know that,” Dorsey said. “Dwayne does the little things that you didn’t see. I mean, if you go back and do a cut up of third-down situations, he really did some nice things on third down. He does the selfless things in terms of run blocking in those situations.
“Those guys worked their fannies off,” Dorsey added, regarding the receivers. “It is hard to play in the National Football League. He will probably tell you himself that he did not live up to his high standards but now we have 2015 to come back on.”
Finally, Dorsey went into extensive detail about the four quarterbacks behind starter Alex Smith. Top backup Chase Daniel will have a cap hit of $4.8 million this season, but Dorsey said the Chiefs could keep him at that number.
“Yeah,” Dorsey said. “Everybody knows he’s paid a little bit higher than the normal backup, but to Chase’s credit, he’s played two good games when asked upon to start, and he truly should be 2-0. We all know he’s 1-1, but I totally applaud what he’s done so far.”
Dorsey was also complimentary of 2014 fifth-round pick Aaron Murray, who spent all of last season as the No. 3 quarterback and didn’t attempt a pass in the regular season.
“We drafted Aaron for a reason,” Dorsey said. “I think Aaron greatly benefited from seeing two true professionals at work. Whenever you can have an Alex Smith or a Chase Daniel in the room … those young guys, they saw what total commitment was in terms of preparing to play the game every Sunday. Aaron really learned a lot and made big steps next year.”
So he’s ready to be a No. 2?
“I don’t know that, I have to wait until we get to OTAs and see the whole progress point there,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey was also asked whether the team would stick with backup quarterback Tyler Bray, who tore his ACL during the offseason in what coach Andy Reid called a “workout.”
“I would hope so,” Dorsey said. “I want to see him when he comes back to KC and kind of see where he is and what the doctors are talking about. Until I hear that, Tyler’s a Chief.”
Does that mean they intend to keep him?
“Right now, in 2015, he’s a Kansas City Chief,” Dorsey said.
The Chiefs announced Bray’s injury alongside the signing of Terrelle Pryor in January.
“The guy’s 25 years old, he was labeled at one time the best player ever to come out high school,” Dorsey said of Pryor. “Athletically, I think he’s very special. And if you were to see his work ethic he had, you’d say ‘My gosh, does he throw a pretty deep ball.’
“It’s a credit to him; he’s been in the building everyday since he’s been here. He’s trying to catch up to speed and get there and show people ‘You know what, I’m pretty darn good.’ From a competitive standpoint, that helps the Chiefs.”