Chiefs GM wants to extend Mathieu but cap situation 'tricky'
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu is entering the third and final year of his contract, and although general manager Brett Veach is willing to extend the star defensive back this year, there are no guarantees he'll be able to.
"The landscape is super tricky," Veach said Wednesday, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN. "We're at a $30-million (salary-cap) deficit from what we thought, and next year it's $15 million. Right now, some things are out of our control just because of the cap reductions this year and next year."
The NFL salary cap was set at $182.5 million in 2021, a drop of around $15 million from last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kansas City currently holds $6.8 million of cap space.
The Chiefs extended some of their biggest stars over the last two seasons, signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes, defensive lineman Chris Jones, and tight end Travis Kelce to lucrative contracts.
Mathieu's $14-million average annual salary currently ranks sixth in the NFL among safeties, but his $19.73-million cap hit is the highest at the position in 2021.
"It's frustrating because we're handicapped a little, and there are only certain things we can do to make it make sense for him," Veach said. "But where we are now is going to be completely different than where we will be once the season ends, and we have a lot more clarity on contracts and how the money is disbursed and allocated and how we can fit things. ... It has nothing to do with us not wanting him or him not wanting to be here. It's just one of those unfortunate timing things."
Veach added that if the Chiefs can't extend Mathieu this year, restructuring other players' contracts will give Kansas City more flexibility ahead of next season.
Mathieu, 29, will likely be in a position to demand a contract similar to the four-year, $61-million deal that the Denver Broncos recently gave free safety Justin Simmons. Jamal Adams is currently the league's highest-paid safety after signing a four-year, $70-million extension with the Seattle Seahawks.
Mathieu reacted to Adams' new deal on social media soon after it was announced Tuesday.
Mathieu has been a key piece of the Chiefs' defense since joining in 2019 after spending the majority of his career with the Arizona Cardinals. The All-Pro defender has averaged 70 tackles, five interceptions, and 11 pass breakups per 16 games in Kansas City.