The big contract signings keep coming for the Kansas City Chiefs and and their general manager Brett Veach.
Many were worried that the record-breaking deal given to quarterback Patrick Mahomes a week ago Monday might limit the team’s ability to retain other high-priced free agents. At the top of that list was defensive tackle Chris Jones, who was on the franchise tag and had threatened to sit out the season.
The details of the contract structure are still coming in — but early on, it appears the two sides were able to quickly bridge a large gap in their negotiations.
A deal of this magnitude affects many others within the organization — both positively and negatively — so here are just a few of the winners and losers from the second big Chiefs contract in as many weeks.
Chris Jones: The big guy secured the bag, grabbing headlines with a $85 million contract that (on paper) averages more than the $21 million per year he had reportedly been seeking. He has been guaranteed $37 million of that money at signing, which should go a long way towards securing his family’s financial future. He got significant guarantees against injury ($60 million total) — and when this contract expires, he’ll still be turning 30. Tuesday might not be his last payday.
The Kansas City Chiefs: By taking care of one of their own, the Chiefs are sending a message to their players and potential future free agents across the league. Jones outperformed his second-round rookie contract — and now he is being handsomely rewarded for it. Having locked up their franchise quarterback and several other significant pieces for the long term, the Super Bowl champion Chiefs will continue to be a preferred destination — now more than ever.
The #Chiefs entered the offseason with the futures of key pieces Sammy Watkins, Bashaud Breeland, Demarcus Robinson, Mike Pennel and Chris Jones as question marks. Patrick Mahomes’ massive deal needed to be done.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 14, 2020
Every single one was signed or extended. Remarkable job.
Frank Clark: One of the biggest advantages in the NFL is the ability to generate pass rush from both inside and outside. Last year, Clark and Jones started building chemistry on and off the field. This season — and now beyond — they’ll have the opportunity to build on that, allowing them to become one of the best tandems in the league. That helps Clark get more opportunities for game-changing sacks, as Jones’ continued presence will keep offenses from devoting extra resources towards him.
Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes was adamant that his contract should not hamstring the team; he wanted the Chiefs to continue to be able to pay other players so they could build a dynasty in Kansas City. It didn’t take long for that contract structure to come in handy. The team clearly knew how to structure these two big contracts together — and the quarterback helped by allowing them the flexibility to do so. That just one more bit of goodwill for the guy that’s literally doing everything right.
Brett Veach: The young man has a plan. For all of our hand-wringing, it’s now clear that the GM knows what he’s doing. He’s certainly done a great job assembling championship-level talent. Now he’s executing on his #RunItBack plan to keep it going. We all knew the salary cap was somewhat of a myth — and that as long all parties were willing, the team could find a way to keep Mahomes and Jones long-term. Jones’ deal has basically the same guarantees the team would have owed him on two franchise tags — and with no signing bonus, it fits in nicely while the quarterback’s deal has a low(er) cap hit. Now comes the challenge of finding cheap talent to fit into the roles around the stars Veach has assembled. But we’re certainly not going to bet against him; he’s shown the ability to be creative and aggressive — even during an unprecedented pandemic.
The Chiefs paid Patrick Mahomes the biggest contract in American sport and Chris Jones a Top 3 APY DT contract.— Craig Stout (@barleyhop) July 14, 2020
They handed out $10M in signing bonus money between those two contracts.
That's getting creative with structure in an uncertain time.
Alex Okafor: It’s actually not just Okafor, but rather all of the players in his tier who could take a hit because of the way the Chiefs are building their roster. For the forseeable future, it will be top-heavy — meaning that mid-to-upper tier contracts for guys like Okafor, Sammy Watkins, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Damien Wilson might be less secure. It’s no coincidence that a couple of these guys have already taken pay cuts or have had contracts restructured. Before the 2021 season, many of them could be looking for new jobs.
Future free agent signees: As arguably the league’s top destination over the next few years, the Chiefs will hold significant leverage in free agent negotiations. They aren’t likely to be big players in free agency for a while — that is, unless the salary cap quickly recovers from 2020’s potential revenue losses. Players will want to join the team — but to do so, they may be forced to take much cheaper deals.
Cornerbacks: On social media, there’s an occasionally-fierce debate about whether pass rushers or secondary players are more important. With Jones getting into the same contract tier as Frank Clark, it’s clear that the Chiefs are continuing to put their biggest (defensive) investments in their pass rushers. With minimal free-agent cornerback contracts — and the current influx of later-round draft picks and UDFAs — it looks like going cheap at these positions is the philosophy we’ll continue to see.