‘Travis Kelsey’s OK’ for Chiefs’ underpaid – ‘I love winning’

ESPNJun 28, 2023 11:32 a.m. ET3 minutes to read

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Kansas City tight end Travis Kelsey admits he’s contemplating how much money he could make if he “hit the gas” on his contract, but in the end, winning is more important to him.

In an extensive profile for Vanity Fair, Kelce said, “My managers and agents love to tell me how low my salary is.”

Last season, he watched teammate Tyrek Hill claw his way out of Kansas City with his contract demands. The star wide receiver was traded to the Miami Dolphins and signed to a four-year, $120 million extension, including $72.2 million guaranteed.

“When I saw Terek go and make 30 (million) a year, in the back of my head, I was like, ‘Man, that’s two to three times what I’m doing now,'” he told Vanity Fair. “I’m like, the free market looks fun until you go somewhere, and you don’t win. I love winning. I love the situation I’m in.”

The Chiefs have won two of the past four Super Bowls, including earlier this year when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in Super Bowl LVII.

Kelsey, 33, is set to earn a base salary of $11.25 million this season and ranks 52nd among NFL players, according to the Roster Management System. He is under contract through the 2025 season and his average annual salary of $14,312,500 ranks third among tight ends, behind George Keitel of the San Francisco 49ers ($15 million) and Darren Waller of the New York Giants ($17 million).

Arguably, Kelsey’s importance to the Chiefs goes beyond the tight end position. He posted seven consecutive seasons of more than 1,000 yards—a record for NFL tight ends—and last season he led the Chiefs in both receptions (110) and receiving yards (1,338).

As such, he admits that he is contemplating the state of his contract.

“You see how much money you can make, and yeah, it hits you a little bit. It makes you think you’re being taken advantage of,” Kelsey told Vanity Fair. “I don’t know if I really pressed on the fuel if I would have had what I would have without a quote. But I do know that I enjoy coming to this building every day.”

Kelsey could also follow the example set by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who will earn a base salary of $5.5 million this season, according to the roster management system. The average annual salary for a two-time MVP (and two-time Super Bowl MVP) is $45 million, which ranks seventh among quarterbacks.

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