Tyrann Mathieu is heading into the final year of his current contract, but the Kansas City Chiefs might not be able to sign him to an extension because of cap concerns.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach discussed the situation with reporters Wednesday:
"The landscape is super tricky. 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. If you look at our books for next year, we're going to be over by a bunch."
Losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused the salary cap to drop about $15 million from last season, currently sitting at $182.5 million for 2021.
Mathieu heads into the season with a $19.73 million cap hit, highest in the NFL among safeties, per Spotrac.
The market for safeties is only growing after the Seattle Seahawks agreed to a four-year, $70 million contract with Jamal Adams.
Mathieu has proved to be worth the cost for Kansas City, earning first-team All-Pro honors in each of his first two seasons with the team. He had 10 regular-season interceptions and 21 passes defended in this stretch, helping the defense rank in the top 10 in points allowed each year.
The squad ranked 24th in points allowed in 2018 before the safety arrived.
The 29-year-old has also played every defensive snap over the last two playoff runs, including two trips to the Super Bowl and one title.
Mathieu can be a key part of Kansas City remaining in contention going forward, but the cap issues have created question marks.
"I've heard Tyrann say that he would like to extend his career in Kansas City and we feel the same way about that," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. "Hopefully that will work out. The timing is obviously uncertain."