Perhaps the biggest question looming over the Chiefs’ offseason is the timing of a possible — perhaps, more accurately, likely — contract extension for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
During two seasons as Kansas City’s starting QB, Mahomes led the Chiefs to its first home AFC Championship Game and an NFL MVP award during the 2018 season then earned Super Bowl LIV MVP in helping the franchise end a 50-year championship drought during the 2019 season.
It’s possible Mahomes will sign the NFL’s first $200-million contract and earn the first average annual salary north of $40 million, but the timing could be tricky.
Mahomes and the Chiefs may not want to hamstring the team’s salary-cap flexibility for the 2020 season. The QB’s camp also may want to hold off until there’s more clarity about the future of league’s collective bargaining agreement with players, which has the potential to significant;y bump up the salary cap after the current deal expires at the end of the 2020 season.
There’s also the Chris Jones conundrum.
Jones, a 2016 second-round pick at defensive tackle, has led the Chiefs in sacks in sacks each of the last two seasons.
He and Kansas City talked about a new contract or extension before the 2019 season, but no deal got done and he’s now set to become a free agent.
The Chiefs are likely to use the Franchise Tag on Jones if no new deal can worked out, but that raises the specter of a tag-and-trade, especially with defensive Frank Clark’s salary-cap number set to rise from $6.5 million in 2019 to $22.7 million next season.
Other pending unrestricted free agents for the Chiefs include:
- QB Chad Henne
- QB Matt Moore
- WR Demarcus Robinson
- OG Stefen Wisniewski
- TE Blake Bell
- FB Anthony Sherman
- DT Xavier Williams
- DT Mike Pennel
- DE Emmanuel Ogbah
- LB Reggie Ragland
- S Jordan Lucas
- CB Bashaud Breeland
- DB Kendall Fuller
According to Spotrac, the Chiefs also have to weigh club options for 2020 versus potential cap savings for offensive lineman Cam Erving and linebacker Damien Wilson.
According to Over the Cap, the Chiefs also could save some money against the cap by releasing some players on big-money deals — a group that includes Erving ($3.25M), Wilson ($4.5M), wide receiver Sammy Watkins ($14 million), guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif ($5M), defensive end Alex Okafor ($3.2M), safety Daniel Sorenson ($3.75M) and punter Dustin Colquitt ($2M).
The NFL Scouting Combine begins Feb. 24 with live coverage on NFL Network set to start at 3 p.m. on Feb. 27 with quarterback, wide receiver and tight end workouts.
The league is planning to deliver seven hours of live coverage Feb. 27-29 — running backs, offensive linemen and special teams on Friday followed by defensive linemen and linebackers on Saturday — before wrapping up with five hours of live coverage on March 1, featuring defensive back prospects.
KEY DATES DURING NFL 2020 OFFSEASON*
Feb. 11 — NFL teams may sign players on expiring 2020 Canadian Football League contracts/
Feb. 24-March 2 — NFL Scouting Combine from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis
Feb. 25 — Team may designate Franchise or Transition Tag players
March 10 — Deadline for Franchise and Transition Tags
March 16-18 — Contact period for unrestricted free agents begins
March 18 — Deadline for teams to exercise 2020 options, submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents and submit minimum qualifying offers to players on expiring deals with fewer than three years of service time is 3 p.m. CT
March 18 — All 2019 player contracts also expire at 3 p.m. CT as 2020 free agency period begins, the 2020 trading period begins and the Top 51 rule for the 2020 salary cap goes into effect
March 29-April 1 — Annual league meeting in Palm Beach, Florida
April 6 — Teams with new head coaches may begin offseason workouts
April 17 — Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
April 20 — Teams with returning head coaches, including the Chiefs, may begin offseason workouts
April 23-25 — 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas
April 27 — NFL clubs may contact players under contract with the XFL
May 1-4 or May 8-11 — Three-day NFL Rookie Minicamp period
July 15 — Deadline for teams to sign a Franchise Tag player to a multiyear contract or extension
Aug. 6 — Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio
Aug. 6-9 — Hall of Fame weekend
Sept. 5 — 2020 team rosters must be cut to 53 players
Sept. 6 — Claiming period for players waived during roster cutdowns ends at 11 a.m. CT and approximately an hour later teams may sign players to the practice squad
Sept. 10 — NFL regular season begins with Thursday Night Football