On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs and general manager Brett Veach kicked off their 2021 rendition of salary cap musical chairs by releasing Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. With the $18 million in savings gained from the moves, Kansas City dropped to just $4 million over their confirmed salary cap. Just one day later, the defending AFC champions have their next move in place to clear another large chunk of money from their books.
This time they’ll turn to their $503 million man, Patrick Mahomes, for some easy relief.
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Simple Restructure to Net Chiefs $17M in Cap Space
According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter on Friday, the Chiefs are expected to free up another $17 million in cap space in the coming days by converting Mahomes’ $21.7 million roster bonus into purely a signing bonus.
Just this transaction alone will take the Chiefs out of the red and provide Veach with nearly $13 million in much-needed space.
While this is a notable development for the Chiefs’ immediate spending capability when free agency opens next week, it’s a relatively standard business move for the team and Mahomes, who signed his record-setting 10-year, $503 million extension last July. Perhaps the most important takeaway from this decision is that the team still has the ability to clear tens of millions more in cap space with some basic contract restructures with other notable players including Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones.
Although the Chiefs are not scheduled to pay Mahomes less yearly cash in the next decade than they will this season ($22.8 million), the first half of his megadeal is structured in a way that will allow Kansas City to restructure annually, if needed. In fact, Mahomes’ base salary will exceed $2.5 million just once over the next six seasons, with most of the ensuing cap hits tied up in bloated roster bonuses ranging from $21.7 million this year to a peak of $49.4 million in 2027.
Mahomes Could Return to the Field by June
After battling through a significant turf toe injury for the majority of the Chiefs’ playoff run, the 25-year-old had surgery to repair his ailing foot four days after Super Bowl LV.
During his March 1 pre-draft press conference, Veach confirmed to reporters that the team is expecting to have Mahomes back at full strength prior to training camp.
“Pat had his toe surgery on 2/10,” Veach said. “Talking to Rick late last week, it’s a three-month recovery. So we’re hopeful, somewhere around that mandatory minicamp, if we have [it]. We certainly think by training camp he’ll be good to go and we’ll be smart with him.”
NFL minicamp dates have yet to be set by the league, however early-to-mid June has been the average range in years past. Last week, Mahomes was spotted in a walking boot for the first time post-surgery thanks to an Instagram photo from fiancée Brittany Matthews.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!