When the Kansas City Chiefs signed free agent defensive end Carlos Dunlap on July 28, we only knew the team had signed him to a one-year deal worth “up to” $8 million. No additional details were made available, including his impact on Kansas City’s salary cap for 2022.
This is not unusual. Few NFL teams go out of their way to publicly disclose contract details, and the Chiefs are not among them. Any additional information tends to come later, and usually comes from player agents (or other league sources) via NFL reporters or salary-cap sites like Observer Y OverTheCap.
Two weeks after signing, the two sites are now in agreement: Dunlap’s deal gives him a guaranteed base salary of $1.12 million. (the league minimum for his experience), along with a signing bonus of $1.88 million. Its 2022 hard cap is listed at $3 million, which means the rest of the “up to” $8 million figure is in not likely to win (NLTBE) incentives. If Dunlap’s game gives you those incentives, they will count against the cap in 2023 instead of 2022.
The day it was signed we estimate that about half (or perhaps less) of his contract would be NLTBE incentives. That estimate was based on what Dunlap had set himself to earn on his Seattle Seahawks contract in 2022: a base salary of $4.1 million and a roster bonus of $1 million; we just thought he would want a new deal that would guarantee him at least that much.
But now we know that plus more than half of his contract dollars won’t hit Kansas City’s salary cap until next season. Dunlap is guaranteed $2.1 million less of what Seattle was going to pay him in 2022.
Does this mean that Dunlap has agreed to play for less money because he will now be playing for a contending team? when the first spoke to reporters in Kansas City on Thursdayhe could have left that impression.
“One of the things I haven’t done is I haven’t gone over 100 sacks, I haven’t won a playoff game and clearly I haven’t won a game. Super Bowl,” He noted. “So those are the things that I would like to do at this point in my career, and I’m on the lookout. I feel like this team gives me a great opportunity, the best opportunity, to do it.”
But Dunlap also seemed to say that the way Kansas City intended to use him had influenced his decision, referencing rookie defensive end George Karlaftis.
“We’ll be rolling,” he said. “You have a young bull – [a] first-round pick who is very talented. The sky is the limit for him, so the opportunity [is there for me] to play on every down. At this point in my career, because I’ve been a closer in so many games and have 96.0 sacks in my career, they try to correlate with being older, knocking down your plays, showing up in passing situations. but i like to eat [whatever] you put on the table. The first and second attempts are just as important to me as the third.”
As I pointed out during this week’s edition of arrowhead pride Publishers Show PodcastIt’s possible that Dunlap’s circumstances allowed Chiefs general manager Brett Veach to make a deal that could pay the pass-rusher more than he was willing to earn in Seattle, but he will still defer a significant portion of those dollars to the calculation of the 2023 salary cap.
This is because the NLTBE incentives are based only in the player’s previous season, not in what he is Really likely to happen. In 2021, Dunlap appeared in all 17 Seahawks games but started in only two of them.
So, to illustrate how this could have been done, let’s say Veach offered Dunlap a $2.5 million bonus if he started four games for the Chiefs in 2022. For salary-cap purposes, that would qualify as an NLTBE incentive, but given Since Kansas City is entering the 2022 season with a first-round rookie at defensive end, it’s very likely that Dunlap will end up starting at least four games. In his mind (and in all probability), he would make $5.5 million this season. That is plus than he was willing to earn in Seattle.
It’s also quite likely that his deal will have an NLTBE incentive based on how many sacks Dunlap will get in the upcoming season. He was 8.5 with the Seahawks last year, so he would have to settle for 9.0 or higher. So, in our illustration, let’s say the two sides agreed to a $2.5 million bonus if Dunlap hit that number.
On Thursday, Dunlap made it abundantly clear that the deal he made with the Chiefs contained a similar provision.
“I try to average 8.0 a year, and I want to go for more than that,” he told reporters. “I put my money where my mouth is with the deal we made: we structured it that way, because of the incentives to raise it.”
In the scenarios outlined here, just a couple of many possible variations, by starting at least four games and getting at least nine sacks, Dunlap would earn the full $8 million, but the Chiefs yet be on the hook for just $3 million against the cap in 2022. If both things happen, you’ll have earned every penny of the $8 million you’ll be paid. But if they don’t, Kansas City will have had Dunlap available as a rotating pass-rusher for just $3 million.
Pretty much any way you look at it, this should be a very good deal for the Chiefs.