The morning of March 30 — less than 200 dollars in cap space.
The morning of August 14 — Kansas City Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Travis Kelce have been signed for the foreseeable future.
As with all Chiefs trends nowadays, it started with Mahomes. The following statement might be difficult to compute but is very much reality: in his 10-year, $503 million contract extension, the quarterback gave the front office room to work.
Through incentives and delayed money and the now-infamous “guarantee mechanisms,” Mahomes lined up a team-friendly, half-a-billion dollar deal.
The contract led to a text exchange between Mahomes and Jones.
“When Pat’s deal got done, Pat texted me and said, ‘Let’s get this thing done,’” Jones said. “‘I left some on the table; let’s get this thing done.’
“And that’s when I had the security that me and the Chiefs were going to work something out.”
Jones was next, and though he got his wish at being paid among the league’s best defensive tackles — a contract at four years at $85 million and $60 million guaranteed but no new money (after the tag) in 2020 — he agreed to no signing bonus (and therefore needed a pay advance).
Jones was willing to wait for his first game check to finally be compensated like the caliber of player he has become. And just as Mahomes afforded the Chiefs the wiggle room to bring back Jones, Jones carried the trend to Kelce.
There were signs Kelce was coming with George Kittle on the horizon. Kittle’s contract — his first veteran deal — was announced Thursday morning, making him the highest-paid tight end in the game. And as expected, Kelce’s contract followed.
The numbers came through on Thursday evening.
Travis Kelce cash flow:— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 13, 2020
The #Chiefs wanted to keep their core of players together. The Mahomes, Jones and Kelce deals are going to help them do that. https://t.co/Bf3XXhtLSE
The Chiefs awarded Kelce with $57 million of new money, including $28 million in guarantees. And Kelce followed the team’s trend by accepting a contract with no signing bonus — one that will pay him the same amount in 2020 that he was going to make before inking the deal.
And so the Chiefs’ salary cap stays the same. And on they go.
Over the years, NFL fans have called for players to be less greedy — to choose team over me, to desire legacy over personal financial security — and let’s be clear: we are still talking about millions and millions of dollars.
But you can’t ignore the sacrifice; not with this team, not this many times.
In Kansas City, it truly is about dynasty potential. The Chiefs weren’t just talking about it moments after the Super Bowl; they’re being about it through their financial decisions.
And unless other teams — and their players — follow suit, it just might become a reality.