The honeymoon for the Kansas City Chiefs is officially over. Kansas City's front office has to try and pull some strings to retain their young core, but their cap space makes that extremely difficult.
The Chiefs have two players that are due for massive contracts in the very near future: quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones. What could prove to be the main roadblock is the contract of defensive end Frank Clark.
It's a no-brainer that the Chiefs will lock in Mahomes, but it's going to come at a high cost. The expectation is that the former 2017 first-round pick will earn more than $40 million annually to become the highest-paid player in league history.
As for Jones, the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on him, and he's yet to sign the tender. Jones is a top-tier tackle in the league, and is set to command a contract that will pay him $20-plus million per season. That would be an easy decision for any team, but not for the Chiefs.
Last offseason, the Chiefs traded their 2019 first-round pick and 2020 second-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Clark, who they signed to a five-year, $104 million deal. While he put up good numbers in his first year in Kansas City (34 tackles and eight sacks) and won a Super Bowl, his contract is an anchor.
Frank Clark Contract Breakdown
- 2020: $19.3 million cap hit; $56.3 million dead cap
- 2021: $25.8 million cap hit; $37.85 million dead cap
- 2022: $26.3 million cap hit; $12.9 million dead cap
- 2023: $27.8 million cap hit; $6.45 million dead cap
With the salary cap expected to decrease in a significant way (it could go as low as $170 million), GM Brett Veach will have a lot of financial tinkering to do, but Clark's deal could end up holding the Chiefs back from making these deals happen as quickly as possible. The good news is they'll have outs when Sammy Watkins hits free agency coupled with Tyrann Mathieu and Anthony Hitchens possibly becoming cap casualties, but then you have to consider significant locker room presences leaving the team.
This will be no easy feat for KC's management.