KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off the ideal conclusion to a season, wrapping up their Super Bowl parade celebration almost a week ago.
The team exceeds the league salary cap by $3,507,734 according to projections by Overthecap.com.
This comes after the Chiefs’ decision not to offer Tyreek Hill an extension. The maximum number he has with the Dolphins this year is set at $31.2 million in 2023.
The Chiefs need to create more cap space for the 2023 season or long-term extension planning and cap relocation for the 2024 season.
Here are the decisions the team should likely make.
1. Release or restructure Frank ClarkMaximum number: $28.6 millionMaximum savings: $19.6 million
Clark unfortunately does not provide enough as a full-time passer-by to warrant this level of compensation.
His production and impact on a team is close to the veteran’s minimum line with incentives.
The tank is running low on what his body can physically allow him to do in the league once he gets past 25-30 sprints per game. Would benefit from a reduced role.
2. Extend or trade Chris JonesNumber cap: $27.041 millionMaximum savings: $20 million
Jones is the most important player in the Chiefs defense right now.
Their pass rush is determined by how many team doubles he gets and how many he is able to fight in a match.
It’s not fair to him, but that’s the reality of the current rushing roster.
Jones provides the organization with one of their most valuable chips to add to the capital project, but the return may not be enough to justify the move.
Jones’ loss on the Chiefs’ pass rush, however, could be felt for years to come.
The Chiefs are at a key crossroads with Jones, he’s approaching 30, but he’s still one of the most valuable players on their overall roster.
He is owed one of the best defensive tackle contracts on the market.
3. Patrick Mahomes roster bonus conversionNumber cap: $46.793 millionList Bonus: $34.4 million
Representatives for the Chiefs and Mahomes have written into his contract that the team is able to convert any or all of his roster bonus into a signing bonus that is spread over the next five years of his contract.
Last year, the Chiefs opted not to exercise that option.
Worst-case scenario, if the Chiefs convert all of the roster bonus, it would add another $6.8 million to the next five seasons of Mahomes’ current cap count, which ranges from $44 million to $59 million depending on the season until to 2031, when it would turn 36.
This scenario is likely broken glass in an emergency situation.
4. Restructure Joe Thuney’s base salary Number limit: $22,116,250Base Salary: $15,000,000
The Chiefs have already done it, but the team is able to take a portion of Joe Thuney’s $15 million base salary and convert it into a bonus.
His contract runs through the 2025 season, so the base could be split over three seasons.
His base salary must be a minimum of $1,165,000 for the 2023 season with his years accrued in the league.
Kansas City could also offer him an extension to lower the cap.
5. Restructure Travis Kelce’s base salaryNumber limit: $14,801,944Base Salary: $11,250,000
Kelce’s contract runs through the 2025 season. His base salary will be $11.25 million this season.
The team can also turn part of it into a bonus with its consent.
His veteran minimum should also be a base $1,165,000.
The Chiefs could also offer him an extension that lowers his cap for 2023.
6. Freeing Marquez Valdes-ScantlingMaximum number: $11 millionMaximum savings: $7 million
Valdes-Scantling provided the Chiefs with additional speed in their wide receiver room to pair with Mecole Hardman after Tyreek Hill was traded.
He has struggled to build good chemistry with Mahomes all season and has a bad habit of catching passes.
Even the first-year Kansas City wide receiver didn’t routinely use his size and arm length to his advantage in catching passes until the AFC Championship game, when he showed his full potential against the Bengals.
His play was probably one of the main reasons the Chiefs made it to the Super Bowl.
A Valdes-Scantling release would likely help pay the cost to Smith-Schuster, or the cap number of another veteran starter for the 2023 season.
7. Release Harrison ButkerNumber cap: $5.128 millionMaximum savings: $2.971 million
This is not a move I would personally make to find relief from the hood.
Butker is one of the most powerful kickers in the league and when the mechanics are right, he is one of the most accurate kickers in the league.
Too often, Butker is blamed for sins that aren’t all his own: He just makes more money in that group and can handle the criticism.
A move like this should only be made if a team needed to fit into their rookie contracts, which shouldn’t be the case.
8. Exchange of Clyde Edwards-Helaire Number cap: $3,443,229Trade Savings: $2,085,670
The Chiefs gain nothing financially by releasing Edwards-Helaire.
The only relief they could find before June 1 would be to trade Edwards-Helaire and give them a new opportunity.
That will likely be determined by how keen the organization is to re-sign Jerick McKinnon and pair him with Isiah Pacheco in his sophomore season.
The Chiefs are overall in a good position to make some additions to their roster, extend some of their key performers, and have good overall long-term cap health.
After the 2023 season, the Chiefs are expected to have $80 million or more in the cap over the next three seasons.