Kansas City Chiefs: What Do Recent Contract Moves Mean?

Getty De'Anthony Thomas makes a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Kansas City Chiefs went into the offseason with two players who were in need of contract extensions. Tyreek Hill received his extension two days before the first regular season game of the season. Chris Jones is still without one, but he is playing.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Chiefs restructured the contracts of left tackle Eric Fisher and linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Kansas city converted the two player’s salary for 2019 into signing bonuses. This cleared up nearly $10.6 million in cap space for the Chiefs. After this move, the Chiefs stand at $19 million in cap space.

Cornerback Michael Hunter and wide receiver Gehrig Dieter both were placed on the injured list before the season. Both players were waived with an injury settlement and are now free to sign with any team. Receiver De’Anthony Thomas is back from suspension this week. The Chiefs received roster exemption for Thomas which means they do not have to place him on the active roster right away. Finally, the Chiefs released receiver Byron Pringle. They plan to re-sign him once he clears waivers and place him on the practice squad.

Hill signed a three-year, $54 million extension heading into Week 1. The Chiefs made these moves after Hill signed. With the first-year cap number being so low, it does not seem like these moves are related to Hill’s contract. So, what is the money for?

Chris Jones Extension on the Horizon?

Kansas City Chiefs Chris Jones

GettyChiefs’ defensive end Chris Jones celebrates a sack of Philip Rivers in a game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chiefs have completed one of two extensions on their checklist. Jones had a breakout season for the Chiefs in 2018. He finished with 15.5 sacks and recorded at least one in 11 straight games to finish the season. Jones has played every game since being drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

There was speculation that Jones would holdout and not play without a new contract, but those talks were put to bed when the defensive lineman showed up on time to training camp. He is a focal point of this Chiefs’ defense and both sides know that.

Kansas City has control of Jones this season. They could choose to franchise tag him in 2020 or get a deal done after the season. Maybe this clearing of cap space is a sign that the two sides are close to a deal.

Other Options for KC

Could the Chiefs be planning a big splash in the upcoming years? The Chiefs are weak at cornerback. They signed Morris Claiborne to help their need in the secondary, but the veteran corner will miss the first four games of the season.

Looking at the upcoming year, the class after next season sticks out. Players like Jalen Ramsey, D.J. Hayden, Patrick Peterson, and Josh Norman are free agents after the 2020 season. It is unlikely that the Chiefs are clearing up room for two years from now, but anything is possible. The Chiefs are a well run organization, and foreshadowing is apart of that.

The Chiefs need defense. Their offense is one of the best in the league. There is no doubt that their offensive game is Super Bowl ready. To get to where they want to be, they have to be elite on both sides of the ball. Adding a shutdown corner would propel them to the next level.