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Chiefs get cap space by restructuring Harrison Butker’s contract

Ever since the 53-man roster cutdown, Kansas City has had very little cap space.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Kansas City Chiefs placed injured rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie on its Reserve/Injured (injured reserve) list and made six other roster moves: signing practice squad linebackers Jack Cochrane and Elijah Lee to the active roster, adding placekicker Matt Ammendola, cornerback Dicaprio Bootle and wide receiver Corey Coleman to the practice squad and releasing safety James Wiggins from the practice squad.

Together, these moves reduced the team’s salary cap space by $1.3 million. But there was a problem: according to the salary cap site Spotrac, the team only had $422,000 with which to work. So the moves would have put the Chiefs $829,000 over the salary cap.

On Wednesday morning, we learned how the Chiefs had decided to manage this problem: by restructuring the contract of placekicker Harrison Butker. ESPN’s Field Yates had the story.

This has been a problem we have been waiting for the Chiefs to solve ever since injured tight end Blake Bell was moved to the Reserve/Injured list after making the initial roster. It had been reported that Lee (who started the season on the practice squad) would occupy Bell’s vacated roster spot before the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

But since the team had so little cap space, this wasn’t possible without an additional roster move. According to Spotrac’s calculations, the team’s cap space was down to $46,000 at one point. Then last Wednesday, the team cleared $430,000 in cap space by waiving injured tight end Matt Bushman with an injury settlement. That gave the Chiefs a little more room with which to work.

It still, however, wasn’t enough to put Lee on the 53-man roster. So he (and wide receiver Daurice Fountain) were given single-game elevations to the active roster for last Sunday’s game — moves that had much smaller salary-cap impacts.

With this $1.5 million from the Butker contract restructure, we now estimate that the Chiefs have $628,000 in cap space. The downside is that Butker’s contract will now carry a cap hit that is $729,000 higher in both 2023 and 2024.

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