The 3 Kansas City Chiefs players next in line for contract extensions

Here are three players the Chiefs may consider paying heavily on new contract extensions.
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs have had many different players come in and produce early on their rookie contracts. In recent seasons, that is paramount, as Kansas City maintains its status as a yearly contender. But with those early hits from players on rookie deals, making the next decision regarding young players and their next contract is crucial.

Who will the Chiefs push aggressively for when it comes to signing contract extensions? Which players could reset the market at their given position with a new deal? Finally, what could past history indicate for how Kansas City may look to handle any negotiations?

With those items in mind, there are a few different players who are worth considering for contract extensions. All of these names that are next in line are entering the final season of their rookie deals. Here are three players the Chiefs may consider paying heavily on new contract extensions.

Nick Bolton

The Chiefs have raved about Nick Bolton as a leader and as a smart player. Mic'd up moments have displayed just some of the awareness that Bolton brings to the fold. Overall, this is the exact type of downhill thumper that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has had success with from a play-style perspective.

Historically, the Chiefs have not been afraid to pay linebackers. Longtime stalwart Derrick Johnson once received a deal that averaged $7 million per season. One of general manager Brett Veach's first free agent signings, Anthony Hitchens, inked a contract worth $9 million per season over five seasons. Re-signing Drue Tranquill this offseason at an average salary of just over $6 million for three years is not a cheap deal, either.

Per Spotrac, the top three average annual salaries per season at linebacker range from $18 million to $20 million per season. It would be a bit surprising to see the Chiefs place Bolton in that stratosphere on a possible new contract extension. However, the fourth-highest average salary at linebacker is $13.666 million, via Spotrac, which Patrick Queen received from the Steelers this offseason in free agency. Perhaps, Bolton could exceed that price point, given how Kansas City has previously paid linebackers.

The linebacker position has altered so much in the modern NFL. Most teams are only using two, and occasionally one, in order to get more speed on the field for the defensive unit. Bolton is trusted in a plethora of situations, though. With how much of a leader he is for Kansas City, the Chiefs have utilized Bolton for at least 87 percent of the defensive snaps in each of the last two years. Bolton being a second-round pick beforehand may also lead to the Chiefs wanting to secure him long-term on a contract extension.

Creed Humphrey

The Chiefs have emphasized the importance of a strong offensive line under the watch of Andy Reid and Veach. Especially after the Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chiefs have looked to maintain a solid foundation in front of Patrick Mahomes.

Center Creed Humphrey has been a major focal point of that. As a result, there are plenty of moments and accolades to point to, making Humphrey a candidate who is next in line for a contract extension. And like Bolton, Creed was also a solid investment as a former second-round pick.

Humphrey has been one of the best centers, let alone interior offensive linemen, at preventing pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, Humphrey allowed pressure on just 2.4 percent of dropbacks in 2023. From the start of 2022 through a couple of weeks in the 2023 season, Humphrey had only allowed one sack, per Next Gen Stats.

The top of the market value at the center position is not as high as others, when considering average salary per season. Frank Ragnow of the Detroit Lions is the current leader at center for average salary at $13.5 million, via Spotrac. Spotrac also shows that five total centers have an average salary of at least $10 million per season. All told, it would not be that shocking if the Chiefs were willing to meet the top of the market value at center. KC could even reset that market by rewarding Humphrey with a new contract extension.

Trey Smith

The point of the offensive line being a strength for the Chiefs also applies here to Trey Smith. Personally, I believe the physicality, instincts and movement skills are what separates Smith from other guards in the NFL. Of course, he was not as high of an investment in the draft, compared to Humphrey. But as a sixth-round pick, Smith has easily outperformed his draft position that was ultimately affected by medical questions.

For those that missed it, the guard market saw a considerable jump in average salary this offseason. As listed by Spotrac, Landon Dickerson of the Philadelphia Eagles leads the guard spot in average salary per season at $21 million. That was via a contract extension from this offseason. And in this year's free agent market, names like Robert Hunt ($20 million per Spotrac) and Jonah Jackson ($17 million per Spotrac) received notable average salaries by switching teams.

Will the Chiefs be willing or able to meet that stratosphere in the guard market value? It would be difficult to move on from a player of Smith's caliber. But compared to their recent at linebacker, and higher investment in Humphrey, it remains to be seen if they can retain Smith. But certainly, this blocker has warranted a new contract extension, due to his play so far.