On March 31, the Kansas City Chiefs re-signed safety Deon Bush for the coming season. As usually occurs with signings made by Kansas City general manager Brett Veach, it was a little while before the contract’s specific details were available.
According to the salary-cap site Spotrac, Bush will earn $1.3 million in 2023.
In 2022, the former Chicago Bears safety signed a veteran salary benefit contract with the Chiefs. This allowed the team to pay him 2022’s NFL minimum salary for a player with six credited seasons ($1,035,000), but carry the minimum salary of a player with two credited seasons ($895,000) against the salary cap.
In a VSB contract structure, teams are also allowed to give a player up to $152,500 in additional compensation that must be carried against the cap. In 2022, Bush received this in the form of a $112,500 signing bonus and a $40,000 workout bonus, making his total cap hit just $1,047,500.
So learning that Bush’s 2023 compensation totals $1.3 million might have suggested that he was no longer on a cap-friendly VSB contract — but that isn’t the case.
Just like last season, he is being paid the league minimum (now $1,165,000 for a player with seven credited seasons). But against the cap, that salary counts for just $940,000 — just as if he had only two credited seasons. He is also earning the $152,500 in additional compensation that is allowed under a VSB deal — but this season, it comes in the form of a $8,971 per-game roster bonus.
There’s one final wrinkle in Bush’s new deal: $350,000 of his salary is guaranteed. This means that if Bush doesn’t make the final 53-man roster before Week 1, Kansas City will owe him that much — which will then count as dead money against the cap for the rest of the season.
This tells us that Veach is pretty sure Bush will make the 2023 roster — very likely as a core special-teams player, just as in last season — but also that the GM has learned a valuable lesson.
As you may recall, the team signed former Panthers linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. last March — but after Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal was drafted in the third round, Carter became expendable; he didn’t survive the final cutdown. Unfortunately, the linebacker’s $735,000 signing bonus and $1 million in guaranteed salary was not expendable. The Chiefs carried that $1.7 million in dead money for the rest of the year — and very likely regretted it.