Chiefs Make Specialist Highest Paid at Position With Extension: Report

Getty Kansas City Chiefs long snapper James Winchester.

The Kansas City Chiefs extended a tenured player at an under-the-radar position on Tuesday, November 23.

Kansas City signed long snapper James Winchester to a two-year extension, making him the highest-paid player at his position, Winchester’s agent, Ken Sarnoff, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The terms of his deal are unknown at this time.

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Winchester, 32, entered the NFL as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. He is now in his seventh season with the defending AFC champions and has played 967 total snaps for them on special teams, according to the Chiefs’ official website.

How Much Money Will Winchester Make?

The highest-paid player at long snapper for the 2021 season is Jon Weeks of the Houston Texans. He signed a one-year with the Texans last offseason, and the contract is worth a total value of $1.21 million, with a base salary of $1.075 million, and $250,000 is fully guaranteed, per OverTheCap.

If Winchester is set to be the highest-paid player at his position, then it’s likely he struck a deal with the Chiefs that is north of Weeks’s contract value.

Chiefs’ Special Teams Play Superb

The most consistent unit this season for the Chiefs has been special teams.

Kicker Harrison Butker had made 15-of-18 field goal attempts this season (83%) and has made 32 of a possible 33 point after attempts (97%), which is his highest mark since his rookie season in 2017 (100%, 28 attempts), per Pro Football Reference.

Second-year punter Tommy Townsend is showing improvement during his sophomore campaign. He has 26 punts on the season and is averaging 48.6 yards per punt, which is over three yards higher than his average during his rookie season (85.0). Townsend has downed 15 punts inside the opponent’s 20 yard line this season, which gives him the highest percentage for punts inside the 20 in the NFL (57.7), according to Team Rankings.

Byron Pringle has been excelling as a kick returner in Kansas City; his average of 25.4 yards per return ranks second-highest among NFL returners with at least 19 returns this season, with Washington’s Deandre Carter No. 1 on that list (25.5), per the NFL’s official site.

The Chiefs’ punt return squad averages 12.8 yards per return, which is the third-best average in the league. However, they also have the third-fewest amount of returns (11). Wide receiver Mecole Hardman has returned eight punts this season for a total of 86 yards (10.8), and a long of  31 yards. Mike Hughes has returned three for a total of 55 yards (18.3), and a long of 37 yards, per ESPN.

Kansas City’s overall special teams play is graded at a 91.1 by PFF, which is the third-best mark in the NFL, behind the New Orleans Saints (92.6) and Cincinnati Bengals (91.4).

Special teams coordinator and assistant head coach David Toub talked about the unit’s play after the Chiefs’ 13-7 win over the Green Bay Packers in which Townsend had six punts on the day, averaged 56.8 yards per punt, and pinned five of them inside Green Bay’s 20. That performance earned Townsend the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award for Week 9.

“I was really happy. They did a great job, they played extremely hard, we made plays when the plays were there,” Toub said during his press conference on Thursday, November 11. “Tommy (Townsend) punted great, the coverage was really good, the gunners played great. They played pitch and catch out there. It was impressive, I liked the way they performed.”


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