Later today, all NFL teams must get down to the mandated 53-man rosters, that will comprise the opening day matchups. For the Kansas City Chiefs, they have a few decisions to make, but not as many as other teams. Still, the Chris Jones saga looms large as to what the team can do with their limited cap space. The next 24 hours are crucial for the Chiefs and Jones.
I tend to remain optimistic, despite the heavy negativity surrounding the contract talks between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Katz Brothers, that a deal with Chris Jones gets done before the final roster cuts. Yes, I’m in the minority, but after Tuesday, Jones loses every bit of leverage he has left.
Once the cuts are made, and if Jones isn’t on the roster with a new deal, General Manager Brett Veach, will have to create cap space by extending the contracts of some of his high-priced stars. If that happens, this will eat into future cap space in 2024 and beyond. It’s not an ideal situation considering some valuable players such as Willie Gay, L’Jarius Sneed, and Tommy Townsend will be free agents.
Down the road, Creed Humphries and Trey Smith are expecting big paydays, and that’s why it’s critical to get Jones extended before Tuesday afternoon. Who knows how this will end? I do not blame Jones for wanting more money, but with the fines already occurring, the extra money he’s seeking is about to be a moot point.
Further, the Chiefs will hedge their bets over the next 24 hours and seek a potential trade partner for Jones. If that happens, I suspect the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions to engage KC.
One trade the Chiefs did make early Tuesday morning was sending Wide Receiver, Ihmir Smith-Marsette to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a swap of conditional 2025, not 2024, seventh-rounders. The fact the deal was for seventh-round picks in 2025 tells me there was never a serious thought to keeping Smith-Marsette on the Chiefs roster.
As for the roster cuts, honestly, I don’t expect too many surprises. Though I’ve heard rumblings about backup Quarterback, Shane Beuchele being traded. Per Mike Florio, at Pro Football Talk, the Chiefs are planning on carrying only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. That would make sense considering the Chiefs will likely carry seven wide receivers and possibly four running backs.
If Kansas City goes the trade route beyond Beuchele and Smith-Marsette, it’s possible running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire could be shipped out. His value to this team keeps dwindling despite the fact he ran with the first-team offense the entire preseason.
Still, Andy Reid and Brett Veach have an unusual roster in 2023. For the first team in their time together, outside of the defensive line, this team has serious depth. Granted some of the depth is untested at the NFL level, but they have enough confidence the coaching staff can get them ready in the event of an injury.
This could come in handy because the Chiefs cap situation is under 200K, and that covers 51 of the 53 players they’ll keep. So, if say, they believe one of the rookies can outperform a veteran, then money rules in that situation. To some, the salary cap is a moving target, and after this season, the last of the Covid fallout, teams will probably enjoy a $20 million bump in 2024. That solves some woes for the Chiefs.
Still, Veach is always looking ahead, and though he’s a master at the salary cap, he also wants to stay competitive. He also knows no matter what happens today is going to be a difficult process to keep the right 53 guys for the team, that fit within their salary cap restraints. That’s why all eyes today remain on the Chris Jones talks.