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Report: Chiefs re-signing defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton

Kansas City brings a former UDFA back for another season.

NFL: DEC 26 Steelers at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Late on Monday evening, Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team reported that the Kansas City Chiefs are re-signing defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton to a one-year contract worth $2 million.

Wharton joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri S&T in 2020. After playing every game in his first two seasons, Wharton had locked down a rotational role for 2022. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in the Chiefs’ Week 5 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, missing the remainder of the season.

With three accrued seasons, Wharton was eligible for restricted free agency. Due to his injury recovery, however, Kansas City probably didn’t want to offer him a $2.6 million right-of-first-refusal tender as a restricted free agent. We had previously predicted that the Chiefs would re-sign him to a lower amount, with some of the contract guaranteed. (Remember: even after they’re signed, RFA contracts are only guaranteed for future injury).

Per Aaron Wilson of Houston’s KPRC, the Chiefs appear to have guaranteed $850,000 to Wharton while protecting the team if his recovery stalls.

Wharton will receive a $500,000 signing bonus on top of his $1.01 million base salary, which is the league minimum for players with three years of experience. Because he appeared in five games in 2022, $125,000 of his $25,000 per-game roster bonuses will be considered as likely to be earned incentives. So when combined with his workout bonus, Wharton’s 2023 cap hit will be $1.7 million. Depending on how many games he plays this season, up to $300,000 could be charged to the 2024 cap.

With this signing, the Chiefs will now have 50 players under contract — and $7.6 million in cap space.

It is unclear from Wilson’s breakdown if the $975,000 playing time incentive includes the roster bonuses. Because the third-year pro only played 149 defensive snaps last season, any playing time incentives should fall in the not likely to be earned category — so if earned, they are likely to be an issue for next offseason’s salary cap.

Kansas City is unlikely to guarantee $850,000 to a player they expect to place on an injured list, which suggests the team is optimistic about Wharton’s availability. Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest expects the defensive tackle to return by training camp.

In 38 games with the Chiefs, Wharton has totaled 64 tackles and three forced fumbles. He also has five career sacks on 21 credited quarterback pressures.

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