Kansas City Chiefs: Is it time to find Travis Kelce’s replacement?

At the age of 29, Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the league, but do the Chiefs need to find his replacement?

Travis Kelce has worked quietly and with resilience for years with the Chiefs, piling up great seasons one after another. He is holding down the position very well, and he has gained his popularity by showing passion and hard work.

Yet, there will be a time the Kansas City Chiefs will need to think of a replacement for Kelce.

In fact, he became one of the favorite targets for Patrick Mahomes last year, but given his age, his increasing value, and the building of a newer and younger team, it looks like drafting or getting new tight ends in the coming years would be a good idea.

The lack of another good tight end on the Chiefs’ roster is a constant worry for fans.

What about Demetrius Harris?

If Travis Kelce gets severely injured, who would replace him?

Right now, Demetrius Harris, the basketball-player-turned-football-player is the other guy on the depth chart, and he has not really had great stats in Kelce’s shadows.

But, Harris is a free agent now and his departure from the team seems pretty likely, anyway.

If the Chiefs move on from Harris, it would be a good opportunity for the team to get a fresh start at tight end position behind Kelce. There are two young candidates on the roster with Deon Yelder and David Wells (practice squad), but it also might be worth seeing what’s available on the draft, or in free agency, where a few valid options could be checked out by the team management.

At a minimum, the Chiefs must address depth at the position and must plan for the day they will lose Kelce. With what appears to be a strong tight end class in 2019, the Chiefs are likely to look early at the tight end position and it’s hard to imagine the Chiefs will not be using an early pick at the position.

They certainly will not want to repeat the “Eric Berry” situation; if the Chiefs were to cut Berry next year as opposed to this year, the team would save nearly $7 million in dead money, making holding off on the separation a necessary decision.

Berry and Kansas City are no longer good matches for each other, but Berry might be playing at Arrowhead Stadium for one more year.

Kelce is still under contract.

As a reminder, Travis Kelce signed a five-year, $46.84 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016 that included a $10 million signing bonus, $20 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $9.37 million. In 2019, Kelce will earn a base salary of $7.5 million, a roster bonus of $1 million, and a workout bonus of $250,000, while carrying a cap hit of $10.7 million and a dead cap value of $3.94 million.

Nonetheless, one of the most important things to know right now is that less than one-fourth of Kelce’s contract is guaranteed money. That’s a lot less than some of the other tight ends in the league. So, let’s say that Kelce’s contract is a good deal for the Chiefs. The Chiefs have Kelce locked in on this deal through 2021 when he turns 32 years old.

Kansas City arguably has the NFL’s best offense with Patrick Mahomes throwing to Kelce and speedy receiver Tyreek Hill. It will remain intact next season, and there is no doubt that the Chiefs’ front office will look to keep the same winning group together for many years ahead.

Since Mahomes and Kelce both have multiple years remaining on their deals, they just need to find someone who will be able to replace Kelce when the time comes.

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