One of the emerging stars on the rising Kansas City Chiefs defense is linebacker Nick Bolton. Despite his young age of 23, Bolton has already proven himself as a prominent leader on a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
With only 18 months left before reaching unrestricted free agency, the Chiefs find themselves in an excellent position to lock in Nick Bolton with a long-term contract extension within the next 6 months (this March).
Notably, Bolton has already made significant contributions to the team in just two years of his career, highlighted by a fumble return for a touchdown in Super Bowl LVII. With Steve Spagnuolo's high regard for linebackers like Bolton, it comes as no surprise that general manager Brett Veach is expected to be fully committed to ensuring his re-signing.
Establishing a base line for a Nick Bolton extension
If Bolton were to re-sign with Kansas City, what would his contract potentially look like? We can look to Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson's recent contract extension as a point of reference. Last week, Wilson agreed to a four-year contract worth up to $37.25M with the Bengals.
Given that Wilson signed his extension after his third year, the Chiefs and Bolton's representatives could use this deal as a starting point for their negotiations. In my opinion, and the opinion of many Chiefs fans, Nick Bolton is a better player than Logan Wilson. This is not meant to insult Wilson, but rather to highlight Bolton's exceptional performance.
Bolton made an immediate impact as a starting-caliber linebacker upon entering the NFL, while Wilson took a couple of seasons to find his rhythm. This distinction gives Bolton's camp more leverage than Wilson's, making it probable that Bolton's next contract will far surpass Wilson's $9.3M/year, especially if he continues to improve in the 2023 season.
How much could Bolton end up costing the Chiefs?
What exactly will Nick Bolton's contract be? It's challenging to predict, but it will likely fall somewhere in the range of $12-$18M/year. Admittedly, this is quite a wide range, as the linebacker market is notoriously difficult to pin down.
Again, Bolton's future contract hinges on his performance in the 2023 season. If he takes his game to the next level and becomes one of the premier linebackers in the league, the Chiefs should anticipate paying north of $15M per season on a three to five-year deal. However, if he maintains his current level of play or experiences a setback, the team may opt to delay contract negotiations until the later winter of 2025.
When would an extension for Nick Bolton likely happen?
Considering the team's historical approach, the Chiefs may opt to defer contract talks until after the 2024 season when Bolton is set to become an unrestricted free agent. This strategy aligns with how they handled negotiations for Charvarius Ward and is likely to be the case for L'Jarius Sneed as well. While these are distinct positions with unique circumstances, it exemplifies Kansas City's willingness to be patient in negotiating with their promising young defensive talents.
In conclusion, Logan Wilson's recent contract extension may not directly impact Nick Bolton's situation, but it could offer a glimpse of what lies ahead. If the Chiefs can secure Bolton to a long-term contract around the figure Wilson received, they could have one of the best value deals in the NFL for a linebacker. However, the critical 2023 season will shape Bolton's long-term future, as negotiations cannot begin until after the season, and his free agency is scheduled for March 2025.