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Jawaan Taylor’s Chiefs contract is better than it looked

As often happens with a new Kansas City contract, the full details tell a different story that the original headline.

Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

When we learned on Monday that the Kansas City Chiefs had signed Jawaan Taylor to a four-year contract worth $80 million — with $60 million of it guaranteed — it’s safe to say that many people were shocked by the amount of money that general manager Brett Veach had committed to the former Jacksonville Jaguars right tackle.

But as often happens, things look a lot better once the contract’s full details are known. Early on Monday evening, ESPN’s Field Yates had the figures.

Here’s how that lays out on a year-by-year basis.

Year Base Bonus Workout Cap Hit Dead
2023 $1.08M $4.73M $20K $5.83M $40.M
2024 $19.5M $4.73M $500K $24.73M $34.18M
2025 $19.5M $4.73M $500K $24.73M $9.45M
2026 $19.5M $4.73M $500K $24.73M $4.73M

Here’s a good thing: Taylor will have a cap hit of just $5.8 million in 2023 — and then $24.7 million for every year after that.

But here’s a bad thing: the Chiefs are on the hook to pay Taylor $60 million no matter what happens. The team can’t walk away from the deal until after 2025, leaving $4.73 million in dead cap for 2026.

Or anyway... that’s what we thought. But once Spotrac published the full details of the contract’s guarantees, a different picture emerged.

Taylor’s agent Drew Rosenhaus was able to proclaim that the contract guaranteed his client $60 million at signing — because it does. But that $60 million guarantee is only for injury. Should Taylor be unable to play because of a football-related injury (or is released as a result of such an injury), the Chiefs would still have to pay him a total of $60 million.

But only $40 million of the $80 million contract is fully guaranteed at signing. The additional $20 million (Taylor’s salary and workout bonus for 2025) becomes fully guaranteed only if he is under contract on the third day of the 2024 league year — that is, one year from now.

So let’s say Taylor’s play falls way below expectations in 2023. Kansas City could release him before his 2025 money becomes guaranteed. If it plays out that way, the team will have paid Taylor $40 million to play for just one season. That will certainly make his signing a very expensive miscalculation — but a $40 million error is significantly better than a $60 million error!

We can only conclude that the team is confident that the 25-year-old Taylor (selected out of Florida early in the second round in the 2019 draft) will be able to do what it expects he can.

Otherwise, this signing will prove to be a very big mistake — just not quite as large as it first appeared it could be.

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