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What we know (and can estimate) about the structure of Kelce’s extension

We don’t have the full details of the deal, but we can make some educated guesses about how it will be structured.

Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce — still in the final two years of his most-recent contract — signed a four-year extension to that deal that will keep him on the Chiefs through the 2025 season. He will be 36 years old when the contract expires on the first day of the 2026 league year.

Arrowhead Pride editor-in-chief Pete Sweeney, defensive film analyst Craig Stout and I talked about the signing in an emergency podcast on Thursday afternoon.

While we don’t know the full details of the contract structure, here are the broad strokes of the deal known at this writing:

  • Four-year extension on existing contract
  • $57.25 million new money in extension
  • No new money in 2020
  • $28 million in guarantees
  • Said to be structured in similar way to defensive tackle Chris Jones’ contract

The final point is the most crucial in estimating how this this deal will lay out.

Jones received no signing bonus, but the first two years of his four-year deal (totaling $37.6 million) were guaranteed at signing. The third year (an additional $22.4 million) becomes guaranteed on the first day of the 2021 league year next March. This means that Jones’ deal carried an $80 million price tag — with $60 million of it guaranteed.

Carrying that over to the Kelce deal, here’s what we get:

The last two years of Kelce’s existing contract (totaling $18.25 million) become guaranteed at signing. On the first day of the 2021 league year next March, Kelce’s 2022 salary (let’s say it’s $10 million, which would be an increase over the $9 million he is due to collect in 2021) becomes fully guaranteed, bringing the total guarantees of the deal to $28.25 million. That leaves $47.25 million to be spread out over the remaining three years of the deal — perhaps something like $15 million in 2023, $15.75 million in 2024 and $16.5 million in 2025.

There are other numbers you can plug into those slots and make it match what we know. But based on what’s been reported, the contract structure could look something very much like what we’ve described.

UPDATE: 11:14 p.m. Arrowhead Time

NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo has reported some additional contract numbers.

As noted before, you can plug a variety of different numbers into the structure we described and come out at the same place. Taken at face value, these numbers suggest that Kelce’s cap hit would remain the same in 2020 — as previously reported — but rise by $4.25 million in 2021.

Considering that the Chiefs were already likely to be in a more difficult salary cap position next season, that doesn’t make a lot of sense — but remember, these numbers represent the cash Kelce will receive in 2020. Depending on exactly how these amounts are distributed through the contract, it might not mean his cap hit will actually be higher in 2021. We’ll just have to see how the details shake out.

Otherwise, it still looks (more or less) like the structure we were expecting — just with some different numbers in a few places.

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