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In 2023, the Chiefs are doing even more than usual to save cap dollars

Kansas City manager Brett Veach is always trying to save cap space — but he’s making a special effort this season.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Going into Wednesday, we didn’t have contract details for the Kansas City Chiefs’ last four free-agent signings: defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, tight end Blake Bell, defensive tackle Byron Cowart and defensive tackle Phil Hoskins.

Here at Arrowhead Pride, we had estimated that Nnadi’s cap hit would fall between $1,092,500 (a veteran salary benefit contract that includes the maximum available additional compensation of $152,000) and $1,500,000. We anticipated that both Bell and Cowart had been signed to VSB deals that would carry $1,092,500 cap hits for 2023. And we expected that Hoskins — a former practice-squad player with only two credited NFL seasons — would make the NFL minimum salary of $940,000.

When contract details became available on Wednesday, we learned that Nnadi, Bell and Cowart had all, in fact, been signed to VSB contracts — and as expected, Hoskins had been given an NFL minimum deal. But Bell and Cowart are counting just $940,000 against the cap in 2023.

We had based our estimates on the recent behavior of Kansas City general manager Brett Veach, who often uses VSB contract structures to save cap space. Usually, however, Veach has tended to give these players that $152,500 signing bonus. For someone who might only be able to get an NFL minimum contract, that bonus — paid to them at a time of year when no money is coming in — can be a substantial inducement to sign with the team.

But in 2023, Veach isn’t routinely offering that bonus on VSB contracts. So far, seven Kansas City players have been signed to these deals. Six are signed to the standard VSB contract, while offensive lineman Nick Allegretti has been signed to the “four-year qualifying” VSB variant, which allows him to earn even more money that doesn’t count against the team’s cap space.

But of these seven players, only Allegretti and Nnadi are being paid the VSB signing bonus the Chiefs have usually offered.

This means that the Chiefs have saved an additional $762,500 of cap space on those contracts this season — and is an indicator that Kansas City is working every possible angle to save every last dollar against the salary cap.

We now have salary details for all 61 players on the Chiefs’ roster — and estimate that Kansas City has $5.6 million in cap space.

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