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Chiefs TE Travis Kelce fine being 'underpaid' in Kansas City: 'I love winning'

Travis Kelce is one of the top pass-catching threats in the NFL, but his contract doesn't exactly reflect that standing.

"My managers and agents love to tell me how underpaid I am," Kelce told Vanity Fair’s Tom Kludt in a wide-ranging feature. "Any time I talk about wanting more money, they're just like, 'Why don't you go to the Chiefs and ask them?' "

Kelce inked a four-year, $57.25 million extension in 2020, paying him $14.3 million per year in new money. There are zero guaranteed dollars in the remaining three years of the pact.

The 33-year-old is currently the third-highest-paid tight end in the league. When compared to receivers, the gap is even wider. Kelce makes less per season than the likes of Hunter Renfrow ($15.85 million) and Courtland Sutton ($15 million). The four-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler makes less than half of what Tyreek Hill, the top-paid WR and Kelce's former teammate, earns per season ($30 million).

"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," Kelce said. "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."

Kelce trades off making more cash to stay with the perennially contending Chiefs. At this point, the fame that comes with playing alongside Patrick Mahomes and in K.C.'s highlight-reel offense gives Kelce a chance to expand his opportunities in a post-career market.

"I don't know if what I want to do has really been done yet," Kelce said of his post-playing career.

Mahomes being underpaid relative to other quarterbacks likely plays into Kelce's desire not to rock the boat regarding his contract. It's a similar dynamic that New England enjoyed when Tom Brady made less than his worth during the Patriots' dynastic days.

"You see how much more money you could be making and, yeah, it hits you in the gut a little bit," Kelce said. "It makes you think you're being taken advantage of. I don't know if I really pressed the gas if I would get what I'm quote-unquote worth. But I know I enjoy coming to that building every single day."

As always, winning will have that effect.

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