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Travis Kelce extension ups the ante for the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs

Vincent Frank
Chiefs' Travis Kelce after Super Bowl win over 49ers
Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On the same day that the San Francisco 49ers signed tight end George Kittle to a record-breaking five-year, $75 million extension, the Kansas City Chiefs took care of some housework.

Months after their victory over San Francisco in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs have signed fellow All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce to a four-year, $57 million extension. This makes him the second highest-paid tight end in NFL history behind the above-mentioned Kittle.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes that Kelce has also received $28 million in total guarantees. It’s the continuation of a spending spree for the defending champs that has pushed back against the narrative surrounding the current economic downturn.

It also ups the ante for Kansas City in a big way.

The Chiefs’ Super Bowl window remains wide open, but there’s issues

  • The NFL and NFLPA finalized a restructured collective bargaining agreement earlier this summer that takes into account the league-wide revenue downturn we’re going to see in the next couple years.
  • Said restructure could very well lower the 2021 salary cap by a cool $25 million. All 32 NFL teams would be impacted by this. But given their status as a win-now contender, the Chiefs are among those who will be the most impacted.
  • It’s not yet known how much Kelce will count against the cap in 2021. Kansas City will likely push a larger sum of that to later years. Although, the likes of Frank Clark, Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones are set to count a combined $71-plus million against the cap. With a potential cap floor of $175 million, this could be an issue.

Kansas City continues to spend cash to retain core players

  • It’s in no way a bad thing. The two reigning conference champs are making sure to take care of their own. For Kansas City, that now includes doling out a combined $587 million in total value to Mahomes, Clark and Kelce.
  • This isn’t going to impact Kansas City too much in 2021. It will, however, have ramifications the following season should the expected revenue downfall around the NFL continue into that season.
  • Once San Francisco opted to make Kittle the highest-paid tight end in NFL history, it made sense for Kansas City to take care of one of its top offensive weapons. The team now has pretty much its entire core locked up for the next half-decade or so.

Bottom line

This wasn’t as much of a win-now move as it was making one of their best players happy. With that said, the Chiefs have now invested an historic amount of money on three core players over the past couple months.

Amid the ongoing economic uncertainty surrounding professional football, that’s a bit of a risk. We have no idea how the economics are going to look in 2021 and beyond.

On and of itself, this could very well tell us a story of a Chiefs organization prepared to go win-now while risking its cap viability long-term. Such is the nature of the beast in today’s NFL.