Andy Reid has finally built the Chiefs in his image. His offense features a stable, if unspectacular franchise quarterback, a dynamic runner, and speedy but untested receivers. His defense has several league stars and one amazing cancer survivor.
Is that enough to win the AFC West? Time will tell, but these five players would help the cause by upping their collective games in 2015:
Alex Smith, quarterback
Smith is no exception to the "what-have-you-won-for-me-lately" rule of quarterback play. There's no denying, though, that 2015 is his biggest year. He can either prove naysayers wrong and launch a new-look passing game in Kansas City with new weapons like Jeremy Maclin. Or, Smith can sink back into old habits, throw check-downs, and continue being the league's least exciting QB with a franchise-level cap hit ($15.6 million).
Sean Smith, cornerback
Smith picked the absolute worst season to earn a league suspension. His team can save money by releasing him right now ($5.5 million cap hit) or just waiting until the season ends ($7.5 million cap hit). Kansas City is protected in case of such a move; the took Marcus Peters in the first round and Steven Nelson two rounds later. Costly, suspended, and replaceable -- those aren't three traits any player wants to be associated with. It's a big year for the cornerback.
Eric Fisher, left tackle
Fisher has been a solid but unspectacular option for Kansas City. That's fine -- except if you're a former No. 1 overall pick like Fisher is. He's paid like a bookend ($6 million cap hit), but hasn't payed like it yet. Andy Reid's offense requires stability at left tackle. That's what Fisher can bring, but he might need to do that and more.
Tamba Hali, outside linebacker
Hali saw the writing on the wall this offseason and took a pay cut. No. 91 is wired like that, but for how long can Kansas City count on their aging sackmaster? Hali's biggest value could come as a tutor instead of a player. For his $5 million cap hit, it's almost worth paying Hali to tutor Dee Ford and other youngsters -- but almost isn't quite good enough.
Chase Daniel, quarterback
Considering his backup status, Daniel's contract is nearly laughable. His cap hit ($4.8 million) is higher than franchise nose tackle Dontari Poe, newly-signed receiver Jeremy Maclin, and so many other regular contributors in K.C. A team strapped for cap space like the Chiefs can ill afford a pricey backup -- Daniel will have to get into meaningful game action this year to justify a roster spot.
*All salary cap information courtesy of OverTheCap.com.