Joe Mays could be 1-year rental for Chiefs

Inside linebacker Joe Mays signed a two-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs this week, but the details of the contract make it evident Mays will need to play very well in 2014 in order to stick around in 2015.

Mays' contract is worth $6 million. His cap number is $2 million this year, a relatively team-friendly number for a starting inside linebacker who will probably come out of the lineup on passing downs.

But his cap number doubles to $4 million in 2015. Included is a clause that will make $1 million of his 2015 salary guaranteed if he's still with the Chiefs by April 15 of next year. The Chiefs can walk away from his contract before that date and it won't cost them a nickel.

Until then Mays, who began his career playing for Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, looks to be a starting inside linebacker alongside Derrick Johnson. The Chiefs also have Nico Johnson, a fourth-round draft pick last season. But the Chiefs obviously aren't comfortable with the idea of Nico Johnson starting. If they were, they wouldn't have signed Mays.

Mays had some options, including re-signing with the Houston Texans. He spent last season with Houston after three with the Denver Broncos and two with Reid and the Eagles.

"The only thing they told me is they're going to bring me in to compete,'' Mays said today. "I'll let everythng else play out, just come in there and do what I need to do. Hopefully I'll carve out a role for myself.''