The Chiefs officially decline Nick Foles’ $6.75 million option on Thursday, a source confirmed to The Star.
The move is not a surprise, as news surfaced weeks ago that the Chiefs planned on declining the option. The club, however, has still expressed an interest in retaining Foles, according to the source.
The decision means the 28-year-old Foles became a free agent, as teams had until 3 p.m. Thursday to exercise all options for 2017.
Other Chiefs who were allowed to hit free agency include nose tackle Dontari Poe, linebacker Josh Mauga, running back Knile Davis, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, nose tackle Kendall Reyes and offensive lineman Mike Person.
In addition, a pair of exclusive rights free agents – receiver Kenny Cook and fullback Trey Millard – were also allowed to hit the market, as the Chiefs declined to renew their contracts.
The moves leave the Chiefs with about $7 million in cap room, according to OverTheCap.com. That number includes the tenders the club has offered a pair of restricted free agents in safety Daniel Sorensen and kicker Cairo Santos. It also includes the $1.797 million original-round tender the club offered restricted free agent receiver Albert Wilson on Thursday, which will allow them to match any offer Wilson receives on the open market or keep him on the roster in 2017 for $1.797 million.
The Chiefs have already stated multiple times that they hope to retain Poe, who recorded 27 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 2016 and also rushed for and threw for a touchdown on gimmick plays: “Hungry Pig Right” and “Tebow Pop Pass.” He’s a two-time Pro Bowler who has led the Chiefs’ defensive linemen in snaps every year since he was selected 11th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he will now test the market.
The Chiefs have also expressed interest in retaining Foles, a 6-foot-6, 243-pounder who filled the Chiefs’ No. 2 quarterback spot admirably this year, completing 16 of 22 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 30 in relief of injured starter Alex Smith.
Foles wasn’t quite as sharp the next week as the starter, completing 20 of 33 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, but played well enough for the Chiefs to get a 19-14 win over a Jacksonville Jaguars team that finished 3-13. Smith returned to the starting lineup the next week against Carolina, and Foles never played another down.
The collective futures of the other Chiefs who were allowed to test the waters Thursday – and whether they’ll be back – are unclear, however.
Mauga, 29, missed the entire 2016 season due to a labral tear, but prior to that was one of the most consistent players in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme, starting 30 games from 2014 to 2016 and recorded a total of 161 tackles, six pass deflections and two interceptions.
Davis, 25, returned to the Chiefs after he was traded to the Green Bay Packers midseason. The former third-round pick rushed 18 times for 28 yards in 2016 but was much more productive in 2014, when he rushed 134 times for 463 yards and six touchdowns as Jamaal Charles’ primary backup.
Jenkins, 28, and Reyes, 27, were both signed midseason after injuries set in along the defensive line. Reyes finished with 15 tackles and a sack; Jenkins finished with 14 tackles.
Person, 28, never appeared in a game for the Chiefs.