Aside from his performance in the AFC Championship Game, there is growing concern within Chiefs Kingdom regarding quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Back in 2020, Mahomes signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. While at the surface it looked like a deal that would create immediate cap restraints on the Chiefs, general manager Brett Veach structured the contract so Mahomes’ cap hit would be rather minimal over the first two seasons of the deal. In 2020 and 2021, Mahomes’ cap hit was a combined $12.7 million, according to Over The Cap.
However, those two years have come and gone now, which puts Kansas City in a very tough financial situation in 2022.
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When the 2022 league year begins, Mahomes will be on the books with a $35.7 million cap hit. That means the Chiefs will only have $6 million to spend during the offseason, per Jason Fitzgerald of OTC.
However, Fitzgerald lightly touches upon a couple of ways in which Kansas City can dig itself out of this financial crisis.
What Can Chiefs Do To Free Up Cap Space?
As mentioned by Fitzgerald, one of the easiest ways for the Chiefs to free up cap space in 2022 is adjusting Mahomes’ contract. A way to do that was figured out by former sports agent and salary cap expert, Joel Corry.
“The KC Chiefs would create $21.92M of 2022 salary cap room by converting Patrick Mahomes’ $27.4M 3rd day of the 2022 league year roster bonus (3/18) into signing bonus. Mahomes’ 2022 cap number would go from $35,793,381 to $13,873,381,” Corry wrote on Twitter.
Other ways the Chiefs can free up cap space involve other players.
Defensive end Frank Clark has a contract that could be dumped. He will have a $26.3 million cap hit in 2022. However, if Kansas City were to cut him pre-June 1, then they would save $12.7 million in cap room while also having to eat $13.6 million in dead money, per OTC.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is a player whose contract the Chiefs could manipulate. He will be on the books with a $20.8 million cap hit in 2022, which will also be the final year of his contract, per OTC. Signing the 27-year-old wideout to another extension could lower his cap hit for 2022, freeing up more money.
Another maneuver — but one that will create the least amount of cap room — involves veteran linebacker, Anthony Hitchens. He has a $12.6 cap hit in 2022, which is also the final year of his contract. Cutting him pre-June 1 would free up $8.4 million in cap room, but Kansas City would also have to deal with $4.2 million in dead money, per OTC.
Andy Reid on Chiefs’ Future With Mahomes
During his final press conference of the 2021-22 season, head coach Andy Reid was asked about the importance of building a strong team around Mahomes during what is described as his “championship window.”
“You surely want to take advantage of them, not telling you, you don’t but, things happen, and life presents you different problems,” Reid said on Monday, January 31. “You’ve got to persevere and do a little bit more the next year, get yourself even better the next year. Whether it’s myself, my assistant coaches, whether it’s the players, you learn from these experiences and you go forward.”
There’s a lot that needs to be figured out for the Chiefs before free agency begins in March. However, if there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that a lot of maneuvers need to be made in Kansas City in order for them to compete for another championship next season.