The Kansas City Chiefs are no stranger to some offseason cap magic. Which players could be next up for an extension?
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has earned a reputation for closing the cap. Whenever it looks like Kansas City will go in the red, he manages to find some extension, restructure, or obscure move to keep the team under the cap. Things might be hitting a breaking point in 2023 though.
Veach will have ~$21 million of cap space, with only 30 players signed. That does not include contributors like cornerback Rashad Fenton, safety Juan Thornhill, or wide receiver Mecole Hardman who will be unrestricted free agents after this season. There will be a lot of holes for Veach to fill. The Chiefs currently have 12 draft picks in 2023, but that still leaves 10 open roster spots. Besides, rookies and cheap free agents cannot be relied upon to contribute a lot or immediately. Veach will have to free up some money to keep difference-makers in Kansas City or coax some new ones in.
One cap-relief tool at Veach’s disposal is a contract extension. The NFL’s salary cap shell game is confusing but here is an example.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce converted his 2022 base salary into a signing bonus. That move $3.455 million in cap space for Kansas City. Kelce still gets paid the same, but now Veach has more money to work with. Where did the cap hit go? It was equally divided over the remaining years of Kelce’s deal. Now, Kelce’s annual cap hit increased by ~$1 million but the Chiefs have room now. It can be a tough choice, but players must have remaining years on their deal to restructure. So, extending a player adds more years to spread that restructure out.
It makes my head hurt, but that is why Veach gets paid the big bucks.
Extending a player keeps a player in the Chiefs’ future plans. The team can keep standout players off the open market with a deserving extension. Especially with the annually rising cap affecting free agent contract amounts, Veach would be wise to lock in select players sooner rather than later. Who are some contract extension candidates this year?