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Offseason Forecast: Kansas City Chiefs

With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Kansas City Chiefs.

What's changing?

Pressed firmly against the salary cap ceiling, Andy Reid and John Dorsey must make some tough decisions on veteran players if they are to improve a team that narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2014. The entire receiving corps needs to be overhauled after the group put up a goose egg in the touchdown column. Alex Smith's offensive line could use a tweaking, especially after left tackle Eric Fisher's disastrous season.

The Chiefs franchise tagged pass rusher Justin HoustonMonday. Houston, the NFL's reigning sack leader (22), was regarded as the top candidate to receive the franchise tag. Houston has made three straight Pro Bowls in Kansas City. 

Biggest free agents

» C Rodney Hudson: Hudson represents K.C.'s top offensive lineman in 2014. It's important for the Chiefs to retain the 25-year-old on a group that disappointed last season, but began to gel down the stretch.

Other key free agents: DB Ron Parker, S Kurt Coleman, WR Jason Avant, WR Junior Hemingway.

On the way out?

» Dwayne Bowe:Dwayne Bowe is paid like a No. 1 receiver. Dwayne Bowe is not a No. 1 receiver. Hauling in 60 passes for 754 yards and zero TDs in 2014, the 30-year-old isn't worth the $14 million cap hit the Chiefs will take. K.C. can save $5 million by cutting the vet, while leaving $9 million in dead money. With a dearth of able-bodies at the position, a better option for both sides might be a restructured deal that lowers his cap figure and pays him closer to what his production indicates.

» Tamba Hali: The linebacker has made five straight Pro Bowls, however, on the wrong side of 30 and with a $11.9 million cap hit, Hali could be in danger of being cut. The Chiefs would save $9 million by releasing Hali. Despite the Pro Bowls, the 31-year-old's production has declined. With 2014 first-round pick Dee Ford in waiting, it makes sense if the Chiefs move on. Veteran DE Mike Devito is in a similar spot, coming off a torn Achilles. While the Chiefs' defensive front was the best unit on the team last season, someone has to pay for Houston's contract.

» Chase Daniel: The Week 17 plug-and-play quarterback provided the Chiefs a luxury behind Smith. With a $4.8 million cap number, it's one the Chiefs can no longer afford. With Aaron Murray and newly signed Terrelle Pryor in the stable, Daniel should be let go to save $3.8 million.

What they need

If Chiefs fans get their wish it'll be raining receivers in Kansas City this spring, through the draft and free agency. The team desperately needs someone who can help Alex Smith by actually separating from a cornerback once in a while. Low-cost depth at offensive line is a need to push the starters -- especially Fisher. Defensive back could be another spot they look to add depth in the draft, with the future of Eric Berry -- who could be cut or placed on the NFI list -- in doubt.

Offseason crystal ball

Tagging Houston is a no-brainer.

The more difficult decisions come in the form of veterans that need to be cut or restructured to pay for Houston and add playmakers in the receiver corps. My guess is they restructure Bowe, and cut Hali and Devito out of necessity. Reid will then chase Randall Cobb and Jeremy Maclin hard and my red and gold-tinted crystal ball tells me he lands one.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the free-agent quarterback market and discusses Peyton Manning's future. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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