As expected, contract talk has recently been in the news for two of the Kansas City Chiefs’ star players: quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
During his post-draft press conference on Monday, general manager Brett Veach was questioned about both players.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a potential restructure... somewhere down the road
There have been reader questions and tweets about why the Chiefs might soon restructure Mahomes’ contract — considering he did sign a deal that locks him up through the 2031 season. There are two answers to that question.
The first answer is that he deserves it. Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have signed the Chiefs’ Super Bowl foe, quarterback Jalen Hurts, to a long-term contract, Mahomes has dropped to seventh in average yearly salary. He will likely be ninth after the long-term contracts for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert come through.
Chiefs owner, chairman and CEO Clark Hunt discussed a potential restructure for Mahomes over the weekend — while admitting it will always be challenging to match the quarterback’s salary to his value.
“I don’t know that there’s really a way to quantify it financially, and no matter what he makes over his career, I’m sure one way or another he’ll be underpaid,” he said. “The great thing about Patrick is, when we did that deal, he recognized that he wanted to give the club the flexibility to build the team around him. And that contract was structured in that way.
“We’re only one year into a 10‐year contract, so there’s a long way to go, but I think what Patrick cared most about was winning, and he’s certainly been able to do a lot of that.
“Brett Veach has had enough flexibility to be able to add quality players each year, and that’s part of the reason why we were able to lift the Lombardi Trophy again.”
The second answer to a possible Mahomes restructure is opening up even more flexibility for Veach and company. The quarterback’s current contract includes “guarantee mechanisms,” which the Chiefs partially opted to use to make cap space in 2023. The next four seasons of cap hits are $40 million, $47 million, $49 million and $44 million before it balloons to $62 million for the 2027 NFL season.
A new contract would presumably allow the Chiefs to significantly lower those hits, creating even more wiggle room to work the roster. Still, right now, it sounds like nothing is imminent.
“The draft just ended here,” said Veach on Monday. “[Andy Reid] got asked about it, I got asked about it, Clark got asked about it there. We’re a few years into a long deal, but at the same time, we have great communication with Pat, so that’ll be a situation where we work through all those things. There’s no timing on it from our end because we’re in constant communication.”
It’s worth noting that any new deal for Mahomes would come after the new contracts for both Burrow and Herbert, which have yet to happen at the time of this writing.
Is a Chris Jones extension on the way?
Four-time All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones finds himself in a much different boat as he enters his contract's final year. Jones stated this offseason that he has no desire to play for any other franchise.
I'm a chief for life. I will not play for another franchise— Chris Jones (@StoneColdJones) March 12, 2023
Jones’ 2023 cap hit comes in at $28 million. Asked about the optimism regarding a new contract for Jones on Monday, Veach appeared cautiously optimistic.
“Well, until you get a deal done, I don’t know in this league if you’re ever confident with anything,” said the general manager. “I think that’s on the list of things to do, and we get into the offseason, and you know you’re into combine meetings, and then you’re into free agency, and then you’re into the draft — and then after the draft, let the dust settle and start working on the future and things we can get accomplished in the spring.
“We’ll spend time — and obviously, we have a great relationship with Chris and his staff. So, we’ll get to work and see what we can do. Those things usually take a little bit of time here, so we have a little bit of a runway now until the start of training camp to hopefully get something done.”