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NFL Draft

Patrick Mahomes’ Contract Extension Is A Win-Win

  • The Draft Network
  • July 6, 2020
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Patrick Mahomes just reset the sports market, and if his mind-boggling contract extension plays out in its entirety, he’ll be playing through the 2031 season.

Mahomes isn’t the first quarterback to get a 10-plus-year extension in the last 20 years; Drew Bledsoe (2001), Brett Favre (2001), Donovan McNabb (2002), Daunte Culpepper (2003), and Michael Vick (2004) all signed decade-long contracts, but Mahomes is now in a league of his own—literally. He has the richest contract in sports history, worth $503 million in total, NFL Network reported, and $477 million in “guarantee mechanisms;” Mahomes has two years and $27.6 million left on his rookie contract, which pays out $2.8 million this year and $24.8 million in 2021 and his extension won’t be tied to a percentage of the salary cap, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s more than deserved. Mahomes is the first quarterback to win a league MVP and Super Bowl before the age of 25. He has thrown for 89 career touchdown passes after playing in only one game his rookie season (2017). In his three-year career, including playoff appearances, Mahomes registered the third-most touchdown passes of any player during that span; he follows Dan Marino and Andrew Luck. 

Still, questions remain regarding what these guarantee mechanisms are, why Mahomes would take a deal this long, and, the biggest question, when will $50.3 million per year be too low?

Now that we know more specifics, the deal seems a lot better for Mahomes than initially thought. It will pay him part of what he’s worth and the overwhelming reaction to it being more team-friendly is mitigated by the whopping guarantees. But the language is still unclear. What are guaranteed mechanisms? We can assume it’s if Kansas City doesn’t meet a certain standard; if the Chiefs can’t provide “X,” Mahomes can void the rest of the deal. It still, however, works in Kansas City’s favor by not being tied directly to the salary cap. Mahomes obviously takes up a large percentage of the team’s salary cap, but as it grows—after the expected $30-80 million drop in 2021 due to COVID-19—his deal won’t balloon with any increases; what was a win for Kansas City at first, looks to be a win-win for both parties. 

The deal will also likely be renegotiated a few times. With the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson awaiting new deals and the inevitable growth in the quarterback market, Mahomes can quickly outplay this large sum. But even among salary cap uncertainty, the two parties agreed to a massive deal. 

If Mahomes plays out this deal in Kansas City, it will tie him to the team until he’s 36 years old and well past his prime. Why not pen a contract for the next decade with a presumed opt-out if whatever unspecific needs aren’t met (with the same no-trade clause)? The one big downfall for Mahomes here is when just north of $50 million per year will be the new average. It will take a while, but passers will command similar figures in time. We won’t see Prescott’s deal this high, or maybe even Watson’s if he can’t produce a Super Bowl victory or MVP season by the time his current deal expires after the 2021 season, but with the new group of young quarterbacks prepping for the NFL, in five years, Mahomes and his camp will need to go back to the negotiating table.

After learning the details of Mahomes’ new deal, what does this look like for other players in Kansas City awaiting new deals?

Defensive tackle Chris Jones was the other big extension needed besides Mahomes and now the Chiefs will very likely be unable to pay Jones the number he wants and is worth. Kansas City can shop Jones, free up some space to continue building around Mahomes, and further maximize its Super Bowl window. 

The Chiefs already won this deal by giving themselves an opportunity to spread out Mahomes’ cap hit over the years. Kansas City going all-in on Mahomes was a no-brainer; it needed to pay him whatever he asked for after the seasons he’s had, but what’s going to be the most interesting thing about this deal is how it will play out for the future of this franchise. Right now, Mahomes can run to the bank and revel in history.

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