With the busy free-agent market blowing up these past few days, I think it is time to look into crucial Chiefs players entering contract years. When I say “entering contract years,” I mean the year that their current contract expires. There are some big names on this list so buckle up, Chiefs Kingdom, because I hope you are ready to hear about the big decisions ahead for this franchise.
Tyreek Hill (Three-year, $54 million, expires in 2023)
This will be the biggest deal the Chiefs will make since signing Mahomes to his mega-deal. Hill is a massive piece of this Chiefs offense. I’d hate to bore you with his stats and such, but they are so ridiculous that you should know by now who he is. Whether it is his franchise record-tying 15 receiving touchdown season in 2020 or his multiple 200-yard receiving yard games, Hill has become a Chiefs legend. In 2021, Hill finished with 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns.
Hill carries a cap hit of $20,685,000 in 2022, according to Spotrac. Keeping Tyreek around long-term will be a top priority, or it should be. Since joining the Chiefs, Hill has recorded 6,630 receiving yards and 56 touchdowns. Hill is the fastest in franchise history to record 4,000 career receiving yards (58 games). It is also worth noting that he has 719 rushing yards in his career, which is eighth all-time.
Lately, talks of an extension being hit with Hill have some serious traction. According to Aaron Wilson from Pro Football Network, Hill’s new deal is expected to be worth around $85 million over four years, with “over half” of that total guaranteed. Back on March 5th, possible contract details were leaked. Hill is a pivotal piece for the Chiefs, and losing him over money would be a shame.
Orlando Brown Jr (One-year, $16.6 million, expires in 2023)
This storyline is a broken record at this point, but it is still as relevant as ever. Brown has been heading in the direction of being the blindside protector of Patrick Mahomes for a long time. The Chiefs chose to franchise tag Brown with a $16 million cap hit for the one year. This move was essentially made to allow KC more time to come up with a long-term deal.
As far as production, Brown finished with an 81% run block win rate, which was the second-highest in the league per ESPN. Brown also managed an overall 75.2 PFF grade in pass blocking. He started slow, but by the end of the season, Brown was one of the best left tackles in the NFL. A long-term deal would be the ideal way to show the Chiefs’ belief in him to protect Mahomes’ blind side. It needs to happen whether that deal gets done before the 2022 season or by 2023.
Juan Thornhill (Four-years, $4.64 million, expires in 2023)
While some might argue that Mecole Hardman is more important, I disagree. Pending the status of Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill would be the only safety on the roster next to newly acquired Justin Reid. That being said, I think Thornhill will be an essential piece to look at. He brings more to the defense than Mecole does for the offense.
In 2021, Thornhill finished with a career-high in tackles (63). He finished with just one interception, but he has tallied at least one interception all three years of his career. His best season was the 2019 Super Bowl year, where he finished with 55 tackles, three interceptions, and one touchdown.
Thornhill carries a cap hit of $3,134,139 in 2022, according to Spotrac. He is only 26 years old, so he is a young talent that could be useful moving forward. I also feel it is easier to replace the wide receiver position than the safety position. If Mathieu returns, then Thornhill’s overall value will drop. However, the current situation seems to be that Thornhill and Reid will be the safeties in 2022. While keeping Thornhill will not be priority number one, the Chiefs might have the same problem of being short-staffed in safeties next offseason if they do not keep him around.
With some key Chiefs players entering contract years, who will get paid first? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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