Here’s why a contract extension for Tyreek Hill remains in play

Now that the NFL has decided against disciplining or fining Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, sources with knowledge of the situation reiterated to Yahoo Sports on Friday that the club remains interested in signing the All-Pro receiver to a contract extension.

The Chiefs and Hill have plenty of reason to strike a new deal over the course of the coming months.

Start with the point of view of the Chiefs, who face a predicament with Hill, 25, and star defensive tackle Chris Jones, 25, currently slated to hit unrestricted free agency next spring.

Sep 9, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Tyreek Hill is entering the final season of his contract with the Chiefs. (USA TODAY Sports)

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Jones racked up 15½ sacks last year, and is one of the best pass-rushing linemen in football, someone whose length and quickness routinely gives offensive linemen fits. Another monster season could be on the horizon.

That matters because if Jones and Hill – who is also entering the all-important contract season — both rip it up next season, at least one of them would be free to hit free agency and court a bidding war, since NFL teams can franchise tag only one player per season.

The Chiefs can avoid that scenario by simply giving Hill or Jones an extension during the season and franchising the other when the time comes. Both are foundational pieces who deserve big-money deals, but a case can be made that from a purely football standpoint, Hill is the one the Chiefs would be more likely to pay right now — even with the off-field issues this year.

It’s easy to see Jones demanding the type of money the Chiefs just gave recently acquired defensive end Frank Clark — five years and $104 million — as he has recorded the same number of sacks (22) that Clark has the past two seasons. For Jones, most of those sacks came in 2018 — which the team could argue is his one year of elite production — while Hill already has three elite seasons to his name. By paying Hill first, the Chiefs could essentially use 2019 to see what Jones looks like in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system.

And in a perfect world, that’s likely what the Chiefs would have done, as Hill and the club were discussing a massive new deal just months ago. They were even having discussions about it right up until the child abuse investigation became public in March. Yahoo Sports first reported the possibility of a deal on June 27, a day after Hill met with NFL investigators for eight hours in an attempt to provide clarity and context to a child-abuse investigation that involved Hill, his ex-fiancee Crystal Espinal and a secret audio recording.

Now that the negotiation window is open again, it would also benefit Hill to strike a new deal in the near future, too. Remember, Jones and Hill were drafted the same year, but as a second-round pick, Jones’ rookie contract called for him to earn roughly $4.2 million by this point in his career. That’s at least double what Hill, a first-round talent who went in the fifth round that year due to his guilty plea in 2015 for domestic abuse of Espinal, was stipulated to earn $1.6 million by this point in his career.

Hill still has a family to support, and a lucrative payday — one that would potentially approach or surpass Odell Beckham Jr. money, hovering at or around $20 million per year — would certainly help him recoup lost earnings.

Still, there are obstacles that could affect the timeline of any Hill extension. For one, given the spectacle of this entire ordeal dating to Hill’s initial selection by the Chiefs in 2016, it’s fair to wonder if any new contract would have to include financial protections for the team if Hill runs into future legal issues, whether it come in the form of multiple contract clauses or, at the very least, a base salary-heavy deal.

There are questions that must still be answered about Hill’s personal life, a source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports. There are still things that need to play out that will provide closure and comfort that a similar ordeal won’t happen in the future. The child services investigation involving the Kansas Department of Children and Families remains ongoing, for example, and Espinal gave birth to twins and filed a paternity suit last week in which she’s seeking child support and full custody with supervised parenting time for Hill.

Regardless, none of this should be taken as an indication the Chiefs don’t want Hill for the long-term, or vice versa. Both sides just went through an often-ugly ordeal, yet Hill remains a Chief, one who will be available for all 16 games in 2019.

And there’s plenty of reason to think if both sides have their way, that will also remain the case in 2020 and beyond.

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