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With signing of CBA change, Chiefs get $2.2 million in extra cap space

NFL teams are getting an unexpected windfall of cap money, but they might not want to spend it.

NFL: OCT 27 Packers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The lawyers have finished their work on the COVID-19 side agreement to the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that the league and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) representatives agreed upon last week. Both sides have accepted the final language and will soon sign the deal.

And with those strokes of the pen, the Kansas City Chiefs will gain $2.2 million in 2020 cap space.

This is because the CBA modifications allow NFL players to opt out of the 2020 season. Two Chiefs players — right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and running back Damien Williams — have chosen to sit out the year.

Under our previous understanding of the salary cap ramifications in these situations, the contracts for these players would toll (a legal term that means pause) until next season. Normally this would mean that every provision of the contract for 2020 (and the years beyond) would simply move to the following season.

But what had been reported was that this would be true for all aspects of the contract except any pro-rated signing bonus — or other amounts previously paid in 2020. These would have been charged against the current cap.

But according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the final language of the deal says that the pro-rated signing bonuses will move ahead one year, too.

This means that 2020’s pro-rated signing bonuses for Duvernay-Tardif and Williams ($2 million and $533,000 respectively) will now be counted against the 2021 cap.

There appears to be one other change. Previous reporting had said that the stipend paid to players who opted out ($150,000 for those making a the decision voluntarily and $350,000 for those with certain medical conditions) would be an advance against their 2021 salary — which would then mean that these stipends would count against the 2021 cap. But according to the latest Chiefs salary cap information posted on Spotrac, these stipends are being figured into the current cap.

So all told, this adds up to about $2.2 million in additional cap space for the Chiefs this season. But we wouldn’t count on the team running out and spending that money just yet. Here’s why:

As always, we don’t know what the cap figure will be for the next season — and because the league is very likely to bring in less revenue in 2020, there’s every reason to believe the total cap figure will be lower than the current $198.2 million. Under the new agreement, the NFL and the NFLPA have stipulated the cap will be no lower than $175 million next season; revenue shortfalls below that figure will be spread out over successive seasons.

So in a certain way, this amounts to a step backward. Teams are being given additional cap dollars for this season that will be charged to them next season — a season in which they will likely have almost $24 million less to spend. It seems like smart teams (and we’re getting more and more used to the idea that the Chiefs are a smart team) will want to hang on to this new windfall for next season.

But in the meantime, our current calculations give the Chiefs between $7.9 and $8.2 million in cap space — likely $8.2 million.