Breaking Down Patrick Mahomes’ Mega Deal

Tue 7th July 2020

The term “unprecedented” has been thrown around at, well, unprecedented rates over the last six months, but is there any other way to describe the deal signed between Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Monday afternoon?

Kansas City’s Super Bowl-winning, MVP hoarding, deep-ball slinging quarterback will be tied to the franchise for the next 12-years (including the two to run on his current deal), and will make an absurd, ridiculous maximum fee of $503 million. It is – unsurprisingly – the largest contract ever signed in American sports, and nearly double what Eli Manning (the current clubhouse leader in career earnings) has made in his entire career.

Not only is the sheer amount of money something we’ve never seen in football before, the number of years is also [sorry] unprecedented. Cowboys’ left tackle Tyron Smith is the only current player with a contract of 6+ years, with his 8-year deal signed in 2014 set to expire at the end of next season. Since the year 2000, only five other players – Brett Favre, Drew Bledsoe, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper and Michael Vick – have signed deals for 10 years or more.

None of those players ended up reaching the end of those deals for various reasons; injuries and a drop off in performance with age being the most common themes. Although, frankly, Mahomes is an infinitely better player than any of the above.

He is one of only three quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 50+ touchdowns in a season, and did so in his first full season as a starter. In his second full season, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory, earning Super Bowl MVP honours along the way, as well as orchestrating one of the finest postseason comebacks in history against the Texans. His first two seasons as a professional have arguably been the greatest we’ve ever seen from an NFL quarterback.

The hardest thing in football to defend always has been and always will be a perfectly thrown ball, which thus makes someone who does that all the time the hardest individual in the game to stop. Mahomes throws passes which we’ve never seen before, and does it every single time he takes the field. He also (somehow) makes almost no mistakes, despite biting off the sort of risks that make most quarterbacks blush.

There’s no way to quantity Mahomes’ dollar value to a franchise, which is actually why the Chiefs will feel grateful to be in the position they are. Despite the enormity of the deal on paper, at least the Chiefs know how much they’ll need to set aside for a player whose actual worth is beyond calculations.

Mahomes’ contract was always going to be enormous; that shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. What is a surprise is how enormous it has ended up being, with the half-a-billion dollars taking the NFL in to the realm of baseball’s mega deals (Mike Trout’s $430 million, or Bryce Harper’s $330 million the only close-ish comparisons).

Now, even the most casual NFL observer will note that in most cases, the actual money paid out in a contract is significantly less than first reported. This will likely be no exception. Mahomes’s injury guarantee is $140 million, and his signing bonus is only $10 million. He’ll get roster bonuses each season with conditional guarantees along the way as well.

While, in theory, Mahomes is set to be in KC for the next 12 years, the reality is his next deal will probably be negotiated long before that. However, nitpicking aside there’s no real debate that this contract ties the best football player on planet earth to the Chiefs for the foreseeable future.

In a broader sense, what this deal means for the league as a whole is also worth touching on. Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson are both embroiled in contract discussions and will be both be paid – if reports are to be believed – well north of $30 million per season. As with Russell Wilson and Jared Goff’s deals last season, the league’s quarterback benchmark has been reset yet again and those on the bubble are set to be the beneficiaries.

Despite some talk that the Chiefs and Mahomes were poised to get creative, one contract bridge yet to be crossed by the NFL is the idea of tying a deal to the salary cap. Aaron Rodgers reportedly tried this tactic unsuccessfully in Green Bay, but teams are not keen on this level of commitment.

Mahomes has already changed the league on the field and now he’s changed it off the field as well.

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