There were a few options here. I thought the contract with Jaye Howard was exceptionally strong despite only being for two season. I think they did a few clever things with Travis Kelce and Justin Houston in terms of structure. But its just so hard to beat that Jamaal Charles contract, even factoring in the injuries he has sustained through the years.
Charles’ contract is really hard to put a firm number on. The reality is his true extension dates back to 2010 and then later on the Chiefs through some added money to avoid a potential holdout. Some value it as a two year extension, some might value it over 7 years. I chose to just value it as a four year contract, one that gave the team all the decision making power and no dead money protection on the backend for Charles.
But the greatness of this contract started in 2010 when the Chiefs used the leverage of the uncertainty of the new labor agreement to get Charles to sign an extension with just one great season under his belt. The contract was incredibly team friendly and that carried over to his new contract he earned in 2014. The Chiefs paid him an extra $5 million over the final two years of his prior contract and then another $13 million, none of which is guaranteed on the two new years added to his contract.
Charles was so much better than other players all of whom earned in excess of $7 million when this began. His guarantees didn’t come close to big stars like Arian Foster and LeSean McCoy both of whom were closer to Charles on the field despite the big disparity in contract value. They don’t even come close to Jonathan Stewart who was never in the same class as Charles. Who knows how thigs shake out for Charles and its possible he could see a pay cut based on how he has recovered from injury, but this will always go down as one of the more team friendly contracts of the decade
I think the Chiefs do a pretty good job of being pretty fair with their contracts which generally makes it difficult to really select a worst type of contract. I’m not a big fan of Jeremy Maclin’s contract which was a bit of a tipping point in receiver salaries, though he was a desperate need for the Chiefs. They have a bit of weirdness in Rod Streater’s contract but that can easily be fixed. So I went with Hali, in part because of the timing of the deal and in part because of his age.
Hali had a contract that voided this prior offseason. Once the contract voided the Chiefs would be hit with a $4 million cap charge and Hali could become a free agent. More often than not teams work out an extension before the void hits to lessen the charges in the current season. The Chiefs missed that by a pretty short period of time. Perhaps that was by design for some reason, but the fact remains that the Chiefs have one of the tightest cap situations in the NFL and it wouldn’t be as bad had they just extended Hali a day or two earlier.
Maybe their situation changed when it became apparent that Justin Houston was injured and that compromised their leverage but I was genuinely surprised that they went to $7 million a year with $11.5M guaranteed. I guess the closest comparison was Julius Peppers a few years ago, but Peppers was probably a better player at that stage of his career than Hali who may not have the big sack seasons left in him. That seemed to be the framework of sorts for this contract. DeMarcus Ware saw his salary cut to $6.5 million. Cameron Wake got slightly less guaranteed though Wake was coming off injury. Robert Mathis is on a lower salaried contract. I just think there was an opportunity to do slightly better here.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.