Travis Kelce Says He's Underpaid At The Kansas City Chiefs Despite Making $14.1 Million A Season — And He’s Happy About It

He admitted that he's more happy playing football than being concerned about asking for a higher salary.

travis kelce underpaid Katherine Welles, Debby Wong / Shutterstock; Fruit_Cocktail, DAPA Images / Canva

NFL star Travis Kelce has continued to make headlines and win over the majority of Taylor Swift fans, and it seems people may have just one more reason to fawn over the 33-year-old Kansas City Chiefs player.

Kelce, in a June 2023 interview with Vanity Fair, shared his thoughts about the amount of money he is paid and how his salary doesn't actually bother him, despite what everyone else says about it.


Travis Kelce admitted that he isn't bothered by the fact that he is underpaid, and it makes him happy.

While speaking with Vanity Fair, Kelce revealed that he was more than aware that compared to other successful NFL players, his salary was not as high. But, it wasn't that much of a bother to him at the end of the day.

“My managers and agents love to tell me how underpaid I am,” Kelce told the publication. “Any time I talk about wanting more money, they’re just like, ‘Why don’t you go to the Chiefs and ask them?’”



Kelce acknowledged that he also wants to be careful with what he asks for, bringing up what happened with his former teammate Tyreek Hill — who wanted more money and got it, only to not end up winning the Super Bowl to finish out the 2022 season, unlike Kelce.


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"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 continued. “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.”

“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. 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.”

Kelce reportedly has an average base salary of $14.3 million, and for the 2023 season, he'll make $11.5 million, making him the NFL player earning the 51st-highest salary in the league. 


Kelce's approach to accepting a lower salary compared to other players can have its benefits and drawbacks.

Kelce's decision to find contentment in being underpaid in the NFL typically goes against the idea that the more money you make, the happier you will be. Granted, that idea usually pertains to working-class Americans who aren't making millions.

According to a 2020 survey by career site Joblist, most U.S. workers wouldn’t give up their work-life balance for anything under a $10,000 pay increase. There are also immense benefits for work productivity and overall happiness among employees across a variety of jobs who are given pay raises and recognized for their hard work.

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Accepting an under-market contract could potentially raise questions about how Kelce values his contributions to the team, which could impact his personal brand and how he is perceived in the league.


However, Kelce accepting a lower salary could improve how his other teammates view him and his relationship with them. It seems to have already worked, as the Kansas City Chiefs won the 2023 Super Bowl and, according to The National Football League Players Association, the team has the least available salary cap room in the NFL.

Similarly, Tom Brady reportedly sacrificed $60 million to help build up the New England Patriots, according to Insider, and the NFL quarterback accepted restructured contracts on his end just so the New England Patriots could afford a solid team rather than just a one-star player.

Just like Kelce, Brady admitted that he isn't fazed by not being the NFL's highest-paid quarterback. In a 2019 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Brady explained, "You can only spend so much, and the more that one guy gets is less for others." Adding that from “a competitive advantage standpoint, I like to get a lot of good players around me.”


It seems Kelce may have taken up the same thinking as Brady, choosing to put his teammates and the advancement of the Kansas City Chiefs above his own wants and needs and, in the end, both men are still making millions of dollars and able to live comfortably without having to worry about financial security

RELATED: Why Fans Are Convinced Travis Kelce Is Taylor Swift's Soulmate

Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.