Since losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in early February, the Kansas City Chiefs have had to part ways with several key veterans in an effort to get their finances in order. But thanks to Patrick Mahomes, they will soon receive a $17 million weapon they can’t afford to misuse.
Because if general manager Brett Veach fails to capitalize on an opportunity to upgrade a roster that has several glaring holes, not even the NFL’s biggest star will be able to carry his team back to the Super Bowl.
Kansas City still lacks financial flexibility even after cutting two key veterans
Last offseason, the Chiefs aggressively worked to lock up some of their top stars. But after signing Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, and Travis Kelce to contracts totaling nearly $650 million, Kansas City now finds itself in a bit of a salary-cap conundrum.
And as a result of their financial issues, the Chiefs have already had to cut ties with key contributors from their 2019 Super Bowl team.
On Thursday, the team released longtime tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. While it certainly hurt to say goodbye to two Pro Bowl-caliber players, the Chiefs essentially had no choice but to move on from both veterans.
In fact, even though cutting Fisher and Schwartz cleared more than $18 million in cap space, Kansas City still has to get under the 2021 spending limit of $182.5 million. Already saddled with $9.6 million in dead money, the Chiefs remain more than $4 million over the cap.
Patrick Mahomes is about to give the Chiefs a $17 million weapon they can’t afford to misuse
With his team stuck in an unenviable financial situation, Patrick Mahomes will soon give the Chiefs a $17 million weapon they can’t afford to misuse.
On Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported via Twitter that the Chiefs are expected to convert the star quarterback’s $21.7 million roster bonus into a signing bonus in the coming days. The move will allow Kansas City to spread that sizable hit across multiple years.
More importantly, re-working Mahomes’ contract will immediately free up $17 million in cap space. At that point, the Chiefs should have around $12 million or so to spend heading into free agency.
And given the state of their roster, every dollar matters.
If Austin Reiter signs elsewhere as expected, the Chiefs will need to replace three starting offensive linemen in a single offseason. But without much wriggle room to operate, it will be tough for Brett Veach to maximize any available funds to upgrade a roster that desperately needs an infusion of talent up front in order to protect the most gifted quarterback the NFL has ever seen.
Brett Veach needs to take advantage of extra cap space to properly protect the NFL’s biggest star
Super Bowl 55 showed exactly why smart NFL teams build through the trenches. Tampa’s terrifying defensive line dominated Kansas City’s injury-ravaged unit. Meanwhile, Tom Brady looked completely comfortable against a Chiefs defense that recorded just one sack and two quarterback hits in the most important game of the season.
Ironically, Brady just signed a contract extension that frees up $19 million in cap space for the reigning champions. And you can be sure Jason Licht will use that extra money to retain at least a few more pieces from Tampa’s title-winning squad.
Unfortunately for Mahomes, unlike the Bucs, the Chiefs have major holes at key positions that will force Brett Veach to get creative with whatever cap space he has on hand.
After all, starting left tackles make an average salary of around $5.7 million. Meanwhile, right tackles average out at about $4.8 million annually, and centers check in at $2.8 million.
At that rate, Kansas City may have to go younger and cheaper at certain positions just to stay on the right financial path. Of course, relying on a rookie draft pick or a young, unproven player could put Mahomes in jeopardy.
Let’s see if Veach figures out a way to rebuild the offensive line and fortify a defense that also needs help at all three levels.