2014 signals true start of change

Change. That’s what I see with the Kansas City Chiefs. New faces and a different plan.

GM John Dorsey is remaking the Chiefs, switches are happening. A swapping of the guard with draft picks LB Dee Ford and CB Phillip Gaines. CB Brandon Flowers could be released or traded before training camp, according to some media reports, while fan favorite LB Tamba Hali ponders his future.

“It’s a year-to-year thing for me.” Hali said last week during OTAs. “It’s all about winning this championship. I haven’t been that focused on winning a championship, but I wish I knew the reality right now of where I am in my career. You get older and guys like Tony Gonzalez taking off and looking to win a championship. It’s very important right now that our focus is to win a championship. We can’t sell ourselves short; we have the best coach in the game. I mean, come on.”

Another example of Father Time creeping in shows LB Derrick Johnson turning 32 in late November.

Fixes are in store. Dorsey faces some hard choices, but some fans get that, as found on the Chief Concerns Facebook page:

OTAs are voluntary until the mandatory minicamp on June 17-19, so Flowers not attending isn’t breaking any rule other than some fans wanting him there. The Chiefs’ answer is it’s voluntary; no harm no foul. But OTAs last year Flowers was all-in.

“We’re all coming out here making plays,” Flowers said last May, “having fun. That’s the agenda.”

That was before Flowers had one of his worst seasons as a Chief. Pro Football Focus ranked Flowers 95th among NFL cornerbacks last season.

Flowers could be the first big-name casualty of Dorsey’s plan. Flowers represents a $10.5 million cap hit this season and $11.5 million next year, according to spotrac.com, money the Chiefs desperately need. Currently the Chiefs priority is retaining QB Alex Smith, but LB Justin Houston, who also enters the final year of his contract, could also be a main concern this season.

Flowers inability to stick out in coach Bob Sutton’s defense last year doesn’t help, but losing Flowers could be just the start, as a Chiefs fan posted on the Chief Concerns Facebook page:

Fan Quote 2 Change

Chief Concerns Facebook Page

The majority of fans love Hali, but in terms of production and age, he’s not immune. Hali counts for more than $11 million against the cap this season and 2015, according to spotrac.com.

The Chiefs had the second-highest paid defense in 2013 and are projected to have the fourth-highest this season. But the Seattle Seahawks, the 15th-highest paid defense, delivered the goods in the playoffs and shut down Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl.

Dorsey has the belief that you build through the draft and make smart spending choices in free agency. Dorsey trusts he can get good production without paying a bunch.

“You need depth to compete in this league,” Dorsey told MMQB’s Greg Bedard. “As you go along with this thing, you have to establish the culture. You have to get players that you want, that will come and compete on a daily basis, be proud to come here as a Kansas City Chief. Not saying those guys [players the Chiefs lost in free agency] weren’t, [but] that’s why you have to be able to manage and balance that cap and look out and forecast. The guys we lost, I think we’ve done a nice job in terms of replacing them at a lower number but with the same production.”

Starters, depth and keeping the good ones is all about money, but spending wisely and retooling is what the Chiefs have to do.

Dorsey’s been consistent with what he wants to do, even if it means losing players Chiefs fans have grown to enjoy. His thinking at the start of last season hasn’t changed.

“I will learn from the past,” Dorsey told the Chiefs official website last year. “I live in the present and I’m truly going to build for the future.”