Chiefs Extend Mahomes to Richest Contract in Sports History
Half a billion dollars. That is the number that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has the potential to earn with the contract extension he inked on Monday.
The scary thought is that Mahomes appears to be worth every penny. When no one bats an eye and raises questions about a deal this massive, you know the man is a transcendent talent.
The extension is for 10 years with a maximum value of $503 million. He will have to win MVP and the Super Bowl for the next 10 seasons to reach the maximum value, but, hey, a man can dream right?
The new deal won't begin until the 2021 season, meaning Mahomes will be making pennies on the dollar for the next two seasons relative to his value for the franchise. The advantage of this for the Chiefs is that they can be more flexible with the moves they can make with Mahomes making $2.7 million and $24.8 million until the extension kicks in.
Whether it is extending Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones, retaining other talent on the roster, or dipping into the free agency pool, the Chiefs can really put themselves in a good spot the next two seasons.
After that, they will still have the best player in the NFL under contract for another 10 seasons. Not bad. The idea behind the structure of the extension seems to be to line in it with a projected increase in the cap.
So while the extension isn't tied to a percentage of the cap that could have been a huge benefit for Mahomes, the cap hits that look crazy big as we view them right now may not be so bad down the line if the cap increases like people around the league expect it to.
For example, a $43 million cap hit in 2023 may be equivalent to a cap hit around the $35 million range right now. In a sense, the Chiefs are using anticipated inflation of the salary cap to justify Mahomes' future annual numbers. It is a savy move and it is nice to see a team commit to a player instead of waiting for the market to set the terms of the deal.
It is safe to say that Mahomes is worth the money he is going to make to the Chiefs, both on the field and off the field. If he is able to stay healthy, the deal should wind up being a bargain for the Chiefs, as crazy as that sounds. The key will be how much the extension will affect the Chiefs roster-building capabilities around him. With one of the best front offices in the league, the Chiefs will be fine taking on that potential challenge, especially if the salary cap continues going up as it has.
There is a $140 million injury guarantee written into the language of the contract, something both parties are surely hoping never comes into play. There is also $477 million in guarantee mechanisms, meaning if Mahomes plays out the entire term of his contract, that is what he will be taking home.
These mechanisms allow the Chiefs to have some short-term flexibility with their star. Instead of being locked in to a fully guaranteed deal for the full 10 seasons, similar to a baseball contract, the Chiefs can approach it mostly year to year. Simply, if Mahomes sticks around on the team, his roster bonuses and salaries will become guaranteed. If the Chiefs decide not to trigger these guarantee mechanisms, Mahomes will have outs that he could take advantage of and potentially ink another huge contract.
Historically, this contract surpasses the one Major League Baseball's Mike Trout signed as the largest in professional sports in terms of total value (Trout's is fully guaranteed, however). In terms of comparing it to other NFL contracts of the stature, it is only comparable in length. And even then you have to go back some years as these type of deals have been non-existent for quite some time.
To be frank, you cannot really compare Mahomes' contract to any we have seen in the NFL. It is closer to what we see baseball stars getting, even though those are fully guaranteed deals in a sport with no salary cap. This contract extension could set the precedent for what NFL stars could begin looking for.
How this affects the Dak Prescott situation in Dallas will be something to watch. Now, it is hard to see Prescott taking anything less than $40 million annually. However, Dallas now has more leverage in terms of the contract length, as they have been seeking a longer extension than Prescott has wanted all along. If Mahomes can commit to a 10-year deal, Prescott should be able to commit to more than four years.
The biggest takeaways from this historic extension are outside of the specific details. One is that Mahomes has proven his loyalty to the city of Kansas City. This deal could have him in KC through 2031, what would be his age 36 season. At the young age of 24, that is a huge commitment to make both financially, but more so at the football and personal levels. That just goes to show you the head that Mahomes has on his shoulders and the reason everyone is so high on him.
The other big takeaway is the confidence that the Chiefs have in this man. To lock him into a 10-year deal totaling at least $450 that goes against the grain of typical contract structures amidst a global pandemic is an outrageous thought. Simply, this is a perfect marriage.
So while an almost-half-of-a-billion-dollars contract extension is a big deal, the bigger stories lie in the future. What do deals for Prescott and Deshaun Watson look like? Does the salary cap go up, making this deal a bargain? Is Mahomes able to avoid serious injury and play out the duration of the deal?
For now, nothing aside from COVID-19 circumstances is up in the air. Mahomes is a talent the game has never seen before and is on a career trajectory that will leave him as an all-time great. Giving him this money was an easy decision. The Chiefs can also sleep easy at night knowing their franchise should be in good hands until the 2031 season.
As Mahomes said in a tweet of his, a dynasty is being chased.