What led to the events that shaped the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs season were events that were a long time in the making. Clark Hunt had a different vision than the vision that Carl Peterson created in his 20 years as general manager. During the 2007 season it became clear that a rebuild had to happen. The team that led the NFL in offense early in the decade reached the end of their prime.
To understand the Chiefs cap space one must look at the 2007 season. A season that ended a lot of careers in Kansas City. The Chiefs had 20 players making more than 1 million dollars that are no longer in the NFL. Patrick Surtain along with Trent Green both carried over 9 million dollars in salary. Greg Wesley, Eric Hicks, Kendrell Bell, Willie Roaf, Eddie Kennison, and Ty Law were among the 10 highest paid Chiefs each carrying cap number in the neighborhood of 5 million dollars.
Today we don't really factor in the 2007 season. We don't factor that out of the 58 players under contract in 2007 only 3 are under contract today...(Derrick Johnson, Dustin Colquitt, Tamba Hali). We don't look at the fact that only 5 of those 58 players (Brian Waters, Tony Gonzalez, Jared Allen, Bernard Pollard, and Jarrad Page) continue to play in the NFL. That is staggering because in the 2007 season the Chiefs had a cap number of 104 million dollars which was 5 million from the 109 million league wide cap. Not only was the Chiefs long in the tooth, they were loaded with bad contracts and no talent for the future.
At this point the Chiefs made a choice. In 2008 the Chiefs went into a full rebuild. They ended their relationship with high priced veterans like Trent Green and Priest Holmes. They went forward with Pro Bowl back Larry Johnson and 3rd year Pro Brodie Croyle. They traded away Jared Allen for draft picks Brandon Albert, and Jamaal Charles. Chiefs started a pair of rookie corners in Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers replacing the aging tandem of Law and Surtain along with the 14 million cap number both carried.
The 2008 Kansas City Chiefs team performed even worse than the 4-12 2007 team. Tyler Thigpen started 11 games in the 2008 season. The Chiefs defense registered 10 sacks and 3rd year pro 2006 1st round pick Tamba Hali was appearing to be a bust with only 3 sacks. The offense ranked 24th in the NFL and the defense ranked 31st in the NFL showing no ability to stop the run or pass. This was the lowest point that the franchise had been in nearly 20 years prompting the firing of Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards.
Today we often dismiss the 2007-08 teams when talking about the current organization. It takes time when you lose 60 million in cap space from veterans that are no longer in the NFL 4 years later. It takes time to rebuild when the 48 players on your 2007 team are no longer in the NFL.