The Kansas City Chiefs are declining their option to extend running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s contract for a fifth year. This means that the former first-round pick will become a free agent at the beginning of the 2024 league year in mid-March.
This option — which is available only for players drafted in the first round — must be exercised in early May before the player’s fourth season. This year, the deadline was 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Tuesday, May 2.
If the Chiefs had exercised the their option, Edwards-Helaire’s contract would have become guaranteed for both 2023 and 2024 — and would have given him a salary of $5.5 million in its final year. As it now stands, he will have a cap hit of $3.4 million in 2023, which includes $1.2 million guaranteed on a base salary of $2.0 million.
Edwards-Helaire (and just re-signed Jerick McKinnon) are likely to back up second-year running back Isiah Pacheco, who is once again expected to be the team’s starter.
“We’re excited for Clyde this season,” said Kansas City general manager Brett Veach on Monday. “Actually, he was the first guy I saw in the building [Monday], in tremendous shape. He’s a good football player. He’s going to help us out here.”
This does not necessarily mean that 2023 will be Edwards-Helaire’s last season in Kansas City. If he is able to carve out a useful role for himself during the coming season, it’s possible the team could bring him back in 2024. But if it does, it won’t be a guaranteed contract worth $5.5 million.