KANSAS CITY, Mo. The cash-strapped Kansas City Chiefs continued to free up salary-cap space Monday ahead of the start of free agency later this week by restructuring contracts with some of their most high-profile players.
The Chiefs already planned to convert some of quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ roster bonus into a signing bonus to free up about $17 million. Now they are reworking the contracts of tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones to create about $20 million in additional space, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because such contract matters are rarely disclosed.
Sports Illustrated was first to report that Jones and Kelce were restructuring their contracts. Along with the deal with Mahomes, this helps the Chiefs deal with a salary cap cut by $16 million to $182.5 million this year due to lost revenues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chiefs were more than $20 million over the salary cap a few weeks ago, but they wiped out most of that when they released left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Fisher is recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon and Schwartz from a back procedure, and there was no guarantee either would be available for training camp.
Still, the moves left the Chiefs with even more holes along an offensive line in desperate need of a rebuild.
The Chiefs expect to get guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and third-round pick Lucas Niang back after they opted out of last season, giving them a jump-start on the work. The upcoming draft also is heavy with offensive line prospects, and the money they have freed up should help in free agency, which officially opens Wednesday.
The Chiefs, who lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Super Bowl rout, also could be searching for help at wide receiver, pass rush and in the defensive backfield. They let tight end Deon Yelder become a free agent rather than tender him an offer, which means they could be in the market for a veteran backup at that position, too.