Chiefs Defender Expected to Earn ‘Wow’ Payday in Free Agency

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward.

The Kansas City Chiefs have 23 players that are pending unrestricted free agents. Among them is Charvarius Ward, who has developed into a viable starting cornerback in the NFL since entering the league undrafted in 2018.

Unfortunately, Ward’s rise from an undrafted prospect to an NFL starter in Kansas City could have him playing elsewhere in 2022, along with earning a sizable contract in the process.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote about a few under-the-radar players that could earn “wow” figures in free agency this offseason, with Ward being among that grouping.

“[Ward] has emerged as a key player in the cornerback market and should be paid quite well,” Fowler wrote on March 6. “Expect the Chargers and San Francisco 49ers to be interested, among others. He might not be paid as much as, say, a J.C. Jackson or Carlton Davis. But don’t be surprised if he’s awfully close.”

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What to Make of Ward’s Potential Market

If Ward could in fact be paid what Jackson or Davis might make, then he will be well out of reach for the Chiefs.

NFL Media’s Mike Giardi reported that Jackson wants “Jalen Ramsey money”, which means he could be looking to get $20 million per year. Davis’ market value is pegged at five years, $98.35 million, according to Spotrac, which puts him at an average annual value of $19.6 million. So, if Fowler’s projection is correct, then we could see Ward earn a contract this offseason that pays him roughly $19 million annually.

$19 million per year is a figure that Kansas City shouldn’t be willing to pay for a player that will be their second-best cornerback, behind L’Jarius Sneed. So, Ward is likely living his final days as a member of the Chiefs organization.

Broncos’ Trade Makes KC’s Secondary a Top Priority

Re-tooling the secondary was on the list of priorities for the Chiefs entering the offseason. However, the Denver Broncos’ blockbuster trade for quarterback Russell Wilson on March 8 makes the re-tooling of the defensive backfield even more important.

After Kansas City used its franchise tag on starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson reported that Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu and the Chiefs are expected to part ways after four seasons. That, paired with Ward, Daniel Sorensen, Mike Hughes, Chris Lammons, and Armani Watts prepared to test free agency means the Chiefs need to address their safety and cornerback depth either through free agency, the draft, or both.

A page on the OverTheCap website shows what each team’s cap space would look like for the 2022 season if they restructured all their current contracts by converting “scheduled payments such as base salary or roster bonuses into signing bonuses that are prorated equally across the length of the contract, over a maximum of five years,” per the website.

For Kansas City, if they were to do “simple restructures,” they would have $59 million in available cap space. If they were to do “maximum restructures,” they would have $90.1 million in available cap space.

Those numbers don’t exemplify how much money the team will actually free up this offseason to spend. However, it tells us the kind of flexibility the Chiefs have with their current player contracts.

If Kansas City wants to continue contending for championships in a division that now includes Wilson, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr, they need to upgrade their secondary for the 2022 season.


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