4 Chiefs players who won't be back if they make a run at Mike Evans

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens / Kara Durrette/GettyImages
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3. Willie Gay Jr., LB

In all likelihood, the Chiefs were going to have to let linebacker Willie Gay Jr. walk in free agency regardless of their other plans. Even with the upgraded salary cap room, the other needs that the organization must address this offseason simply don't line up with paying Gay the projected $7 million in average annual value he could get on the open market.

Having said that, without Mike Evans in the conversation, it's not entirely impossible that the chips could fall in a way that would lead to the Chiefs bringing Gay back into the fold. If one of Chris Jones or L'Jarius Sneed was simply wanting a change of scenery and ready to leave Kansas City, then that would open the door to retain a player like Gay or even Danna, as mentioned.

Throwing Evans into the mix, though, makes it next to impossible to consider Gay a viable option to bring back to the Chiefs for the 2024 season as he hits free agency. To fit Evans onto the books while also trying to bring back one of Jones or Sneed means that Brett Veach is going to have his back against the wall trying to save every penny possible to make the numbers work.

Subsequently, the return of a $7 million per year linebacker, especially with Nick Bolton already returning and some decent depth involved as well, in Gay just doesn't make financial sense.