Travis Kelce’s Contract Makes Him The Highest-Paid Tight End As He Re-Signs With The Chiefs

He’s one of the most talked-about NFL players in the league—and not just because he’s dating Taylor Swift. And while Travis Kelce’s contract sounds like a lot of money to us regular folk, he’s actually rather underpaid compared to a lot of his fellow football stars.

Born on October 5, 1989, in Westlake, Ohio, Kelce’s journey from a college standout at the University of Cincinnati. He initially joined as a quarterback but switched to the tight end position during his college career. This transition allowed him to utilize his size and athleticism to become a reliable receiving target. He had a breakout season in 2012, his senior year, where he recorded 45 receptions for 722 yards and 8 touchdowns, and this performance helped boost his draft stock for the NFL.

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Kelce was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, as the 63rd overall pick. Since then, he has risen to become one of the league’s most dominant and prolific tight ends, but Travis Kelce’s contract perhaps is not the fairest representation of all he’s done (and his girlfriend by extension) for the game.

Swift and Kelce’s love story began in July 2023, when a mysterious matchmaker—now revealed to be her cousin, Danny—introduced Swift to Kelce’s “New Heights” podcast. During one of his episodes, Kelce revealed how much he wanted to meet Swift and exchange numbers with her after attending her Eras Tour concert in Kansas City.

He later revealed more of the backstory in a November 2023 interview with the Wall Street Journal, telling the magazine that Swift reached out after listening to his episode. “She told me exactly what was going on and how I got lucky enough to get her to reach out,” Kelce shared, adding, “I’ve never been a man of words. Being around her, seeing how smart Taylor is, has been f—ing mind-blowing. I’m learning every day.”

But is Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship a PR stunt? Well, if you’re asking Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, the answer is no. During his recent appearance on Mad Money on CNBC, Hunt, 58, gushed about the couple, dispelling any notions of their relationship being a “marketing stunt.”

“Well, first of all, we’re so happy for Travis Kelce and Taylor in their relationship. I’ve had a chance to meet her at one of the many games that she’s attended this year,” Hunt shared. “She’s just as sweet as she can be. I also got to see her play here [at our Arrowhead Stadium] twice this past summer and what an incredible performer. I mean, just one of the most incredible artists of our time.”

He continued, “It’s been a very interesting, very fun year having the two of them dating. The attention that’s been focused on the Chiefs, our female audience has grown leaps and bounds. That’s right, it was purely organic.”

Travis Kelce’s contract

Travis Kelce’s contract
Travis Kelce’s contract

Travis Kelce’s contract was just renewed with the Chiefs for an additional two years, making him the highest-paid tight end in the league. He’ll earn more than $17 million a year. “I told yall I’ll never let him leave!! Congrats my guy!,” Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes tweeted in response.

Kelce’s previous contract had a total guaranteed sum of $22,750,000 over four years. In 2021, he received a guaranteed roster bonus of $7 million, while in 2022, he earned $2 million of his salary as a guarantee. While that sounds like a lot of money—and it is— the combined value of all 32 NFL teams is currently $142.87 billion and football players should be entitled to their fair share of that considering they put their bodies on the line every week. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Travis Kelce’s net worth is around $30 million.

In a January 2023 interview with Vanity Fair, Kelce joked about how he isn’t paid enough. “My managers and agents love to tell me how underpaid I am,” he said. “Any time I talk about wanting more money, they’re just like, ‘Why don’t you go to the Chiefs and ask them?” The Chiefs are bound by a salary cap and players like All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill have moved elsewhere within the league—in Hill’s case, to the Miami Dolphins.

“When I saw Tyreek go and get 30 [million] a year, in the back of my head, I was like, ‘Man, that’s two to three times what I’m making right now,” he says. “I’m like, the free market looks like fun until you go somewhere and you don’t win. I love winning. I love the situation I’m in.”

He does think about it from time to time, but his allegiance is to the Chiefs. And to victory. “You see how much more money you could be making and, yeah, it hits you in the gut a little bit. It makes you think you’re being taken advantage of,” Kelce says. “I don’t know if I really pressed the gas if I would get what I’m quote-unquote worth,” he adds. “But I know I enjoy coming to that building every single day.” Kelce also has brand deals with Nike, Old Spice, T-Mobile and Dick’s Sporting Goods, McDonalds, and Papa Johns.

It also ignores the fact that Kelce’s romance with Taylor Swift has had a considerable impact on the game and expanded the Chiefs’ fan base. Studies show that Swift has increased the sales of Kelce’s jersey by 400 percent, making him one of the top five best-selling jerseys in the market. And her first NFL appearance was deemed “America’s Game of the Week”, having an average of over twenty-four million viewers.

Digital streaming device-maker Roku said the largest demographic increase for the Chiefs-Bears game was among women ages 18-49, jumping 63 percent week-over-week, even as the NFL has long enjoyed a roughly 50 percent female audience, per Reuters.

“This buzz around Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift isn’t just about speculation about their relationship, it’s about the Halo Effect at work – where one person’s influence boosts the appeal of others around them. Suddenly, football is more than a game; it’s a stage for pop culture,” communication expert Molly McPherson told Axios.

“It isn’t just an academic theory; it’s a savvy marketing move. When an All-Pro tight end like Travis Kelce invites Taylor Swift to a game, he’s essentially inviting her entire fan base to tune in as well. Swift, Kelce, the NFL, and the Kansas City Chiefs all come out ahead. There was only one loser in Sunday’s game, and it was the Chicago Bears.”

Travis Kelce’s net worth is about 25 times less than Taylor Swift’s

Travis Kelce’s net worth is about 25 times less than Taylor Swift’s
Travis Kelce’s net worth is about 25 times less than Taylor Swift’s

According to Forbes, Taylor Swift’s net worth is estimated to be around $740 million and makes $150 million per year from her music and various brand deals. Since her rise to fame, Swift has been the face of campaigns for brands like CoverGirl, Keds, Diet Coke and Capital One. She also has an album promotion deal with Target, and has worked with brands like AT&T, Walmart, Apple Music and XFinity.

However, as Swifties know, the bulk of Swift’s income comes from her tours. Swift’s first concert tour, the Fearless Tour, in 2008 and 2009 brought in $75 million, according to Business Insider. Her 1989 World Tour in 2015 was named the highest-grossing tour of that year.

In 2018, Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour broke the record for the highest-grossing U.S. stadium tour of all time with $345 million from 38 shows, which equals to about $9 million per show. (The previous record was held by The Rolling Stones, whose “A Bigger Bang Tour” from 2005 to 2007 grossed $245 million across 70 shows.)

And of course, we can’t forget the Eras Tour, the first tour to gross more than $1 billion. “This is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I’ve ever been,” Swift told TIME magazine in her Person of the Year cover story. “Ultimately, we can convolute it all we want, or try to overcomplicate it, but there’s only one question,” adding: “Are you not entertained?” to mimic the famous line from Gladiator.

Swift’s net worth also includes her massive real estate portfolio. So far, she owns eight properties, including her $29 million estate in Beverly Hills, her $20 million duplex in New York City and her $17 million mansion in Rhode Island. According to Business Insider, she also owns two private jets worth $40 million and $58 million each.

When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl

When It Was Just a Game
Image: Taylor Trade Publishing.Taylor Trade Publishing.

For more about the Super Bowl, football fans can check out When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl by Harvey Frommer. The best-selling book delves into the history of the first Super Bowl, which was originally known as the AFL-NFL Championship Game. (The term “Super Bowl” was coined only in its third year.) The debut game, between the winning Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, was played in front of only 61,946 people at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—an audience well below the stadium’s capacity. Harvey Frommer, a sports historian and reporter, puts the tale of that momentous game together using oral history, gathered by hundreds of interviews with players, coaches, media and spectators alike.

Remembering The First Super Bowl


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