Just over a week ago, we learned that former Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon was returning to the team on a one-year contract for 2022. As often happens with Kansas City’s signings, we didn’t immediately get the details for the deal.
Those are now available. According to the salary-cap site Spotrac, McKinnon is earning the NFL minimum of $1.035 million and was paid a signing bonus of $152,000, bringing the total value of his contract to $1.27 million. But his cap hit for 2022 is only $1.048 million.
This is possible because McKinnon has been signed to a veteran salary benefit (VSB) contract, which allows a team to sign a player with at least four accrued seasons to a one-year deal at their NFL minimum base salary and up to $152,500 in other compensation — such as a signing or roster bonus.
When a contract meets these conditions, the cap hit for the player’s base salary is the same as a player with just two accrued seasons — which in 2022 is only $895,000. That figure — plus the additional compensation — becomes the player’s adjusted cap hit.
McKinnon is the 12th player the Chiefs have signed to a VSB contract this season. The others are tight end Blake Bell, fullback Michael Burton, safety Deon Bush, linebacker Shalique Calhoun, tackle Geron Christian, wide receiver Josh Gordon, linebacker Elijah Lee, center Austin Reiter, defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth, wide receiver Justin Watson and offensive lineman Andrew Wylie. (Wylie was signed to a special version of the VSB that is available only to players who earned their four accrued seasons with the same team. While he is earning a total of $2.4 million in 2022, he carries a cap hit of only $1.2 million).
Like any other NFL contract, these VSB deals are not guaranteed — and it’s likely that at least some of these players will not make the team’s Week 1 roster. But some of them will certainly play for the Chiefs this year.
In 2021, the Chiefs finished the season with six players on VSB contracts: Bell, Burton, McKinnon, defensive end Alex Okafor, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and safety Daniel Sorensen. The year before that, Robinson, cornerback Antonio Hamilton, offensive lineman Mike Remmers and fullback Anthony Sherman all finished the year on VSB deals.
With McKinnon’s contract details in hand, we now calculate that the Chiefs have $11.0 million in cap space.