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Who’s Up Next For a Contract?

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The hard part of managing a roster in any sport is trying to balance keeping key players and extending them with a contract, but also trying to stay under the salary cap. The reality in sports unfortunately is that not every team has the luxury of paying every single player that they choose. For the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s no exception. General manager Brett Veach has some decisions to make before, during and after the 2023 season. There are quite a few players who are free agents after this year. Who might earn a contract and stay with the team long term? Who might be saying goodbye to Kansas City after next year?

Let’s just get the obvious one out of the way: it’s not a matter of if defensive tackle Chris Jones gets a contract extension, but when. His contract is up after this year but I do not expect him to go anywhere. There’s nothing new on any progression between the two sides but the hope is to get a deal done by training camp. Now that that’s been addressed, here are some other key players who deserve to get an extension after the season.

1. Linebacker Willie Gay

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Gay has been a key piece to the Chiefs defense the last three seasons paired alongside rising star Nick Bolton at linebacker. Gay isn’t necessarily a stat stuffer but his impact is felt all over the field and he’s one of the veterans on the roster. Currently, his contract has $1.9 million left in guaranteed money, but I believe the team will do everything they can to bring him back after this year.

2. Running back Jerick McKinnon

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McKinnon was a spark plug for the Kansas City backfield a season ago on their way to winning the Super Bowl, particularly in the passing game. He set career highs in catches (56), receiving yards (512), and receiving touchdowns (9). Outside of tight end Travis Kelce, McKinnon is considered to be quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ security blanket. The one thing to keep in mind about McKinnon is that he’s 30, and there typically starts to be a decline in production from most running backs at that age, so it might be hard to envision him getting one more major contract given the miles accumulated on him through his eight year career.

However, the Chiefs declined picking up the fifth-year option of his backfield teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire so the Chiefs might bring McKinnon back out of necessity. Somebody in the backfield trio of Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and CEH will get left out. Edwards-Helaire was not healthy for the majority of last year so it will be interesting to see where he fits into the fold once training camp and the preseason begins.

3. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed

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Sneed had an excellent season a year ago with over 100 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions. His contract is up at the end of this year as well. He is a key piece of the secondary along with fellow cornerback Trent McDuffie and, I anticipate something will get done sooner rather than later as far as a contract goes. Keep an eye on his situation as the season progresses.



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