Patrick Mahomes, youngest ever Super Bowl MVP and QB for the Kansas City Chiefs has signed a $503 million contract ($477 million guaranteed) which will keep him at the Chiefs until 2031. Mahomes now owns the richest contract in sports history, beating Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal. The deal does not come without restriction, as Mahomes said in a recent conversation with ESPN:
“I still don’t think I’m allow to play basketball. I’m sure baseball is not going to be allowed as well. I know there’s a lot of them. They have like everything from jet skiing to, I don’t know what all the things are. I read a lot of them. It’s pretty much every physical activity you could possibly do. I’ll probably be sticking with football and video games for now.“
The former Texas Tech star, who went at 10th pick to the Chiefs in the 2017 draft, has made his mark on the league since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback in 2018. He led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game in his first year, which included 50 touchdown passes and an NFL MVP award. After falling short in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots, Mahomes led the Chiefs to SB LIV in 2019/20, averaging 39 points per game in the playoffs (117 in 3 games).
Mahomes is already ranked number 1 all-time in: Passer Rating, QB Rating, Touchdown/Interception Ratio, Yards Per Attempt and Yards Per Game at the age of 24. The last team to beat him by more than 1 possession was Iowa State, he has never lost an NFL game by more than 7 points.
What is a dynasty?
Much of the justification for Mahomes contract rests upon the belief that he will be the focal point of a new dynasty in the NFL. Can Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs become a dynasty?
First of all, what is a dynasty? In football, ‘3-peats’ don’t happen. No team has ever won the Super Bowl 3 times in a row, in fact, it doesn’t really happen in any sport. The last in the NBA was Kobe and Shaq which ended in 2002 and in Baseball it was the Yankees ending in 2000, both of these are considered dynasties. So, can Kansas City do it? The easy answer is yes, and as with all NFL teams it starts with the QB. At the forefront of any dynasty, is a leader who displays elements of utter greatness and irreplaceable talent each time they play their respective sport.
Last week we spoke briefly about Tom Brady and the dominance he and the Patriots have had over the league since the early 2000s. Brady is the best QB I have ever seen play the game, and this is about 30% because of his talent and 70% because when he needs to win he does. He has a gene which you only see from the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams to name a few, the question therefore is; Does Mahomes have this same mental ruthlessness?
The answer is we do not know yet. These aforementioned titans of sport have won and won, over years and years, consistently having an ability to flick a switch and start playing to a whole different level. The early signs are promising for Mahomes, who’s decision making in high-pressure situations seems to resonate with that of someone with exceptional mental toughness. Does this potential justify the biggest sports contract in history? Simply put, yes. The Kansas City Chiefs understand that this is their franchise QB for the next decade, they understand how good he is, and have a fundamental belief in Head Coach Andy Reid who is slowly becoming one of the most highly respected – if not the most highly respected – Head Coach in the NFL aside from Bill Belichick.
He is without a doubt the most talented QB I have ever seen, in terms of his diversity, decision-making and ability both inside and outside the pocket, and displays Rodgers-esque ability to scramble. He plays with total precision and athleticism, and I truly believe we might be witnessing the birth of one of the if not the greatest NFL player in the history of the sport. He is the type of player who could make the league fairly boring for other teams over the next decade. Offensive options including the likes of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman as well as versatile tight-end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs have drafted 9 Pro-Bowlers since Andy Reid got there in 2013.
Injury, injury, injury
Last weeks article on Cam Newton discussed dual-threat QBs injury risk, Mahomes is no different. He loves to run the ball, and for those who watched him week in week out over the last 2 seasons will have seen how incredible his timing and disguise is when running the ball. As with all players who run the ball, the injury risk increases exponentially. However, unlike Cam Newton, Mahomes has an offensive line that allowed the 5th least amount of sacks in 2019/20 season. Mahomes was hit 92 times last season, which tied Carson Wentz as the 8th-most hit QB last season. However, Mahomes’ 25 sacks mark him as the 5th-least sacked QB in the league. To put this into perspective, a QB who has been hit as often as Mahomes takes on average at least 36 sacks, or about 44% more sacks than Mahomes. The trust he has in his offensive line both during the snap and blockers when he runs the ball should suffice in justifying the Chiefs confidence that he will not get badly injured.
Even when he gets injured, it seems his recovery ability is equal to his throwing ability. Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap in Week 7 of the 2019 season, and was somehow at practice in Week 8 and returned by Week 10. See below a quote from one of the physiotherapists at KC:
“The Kansas City Chiefs sent out the scans to several doctors across the country. The feedback they received is that it’s better than anything they imagined. … I’m told it goes back to how Patrick Mahomes’ knee is actually constructed. Basically, he has loose ligaments — what we would call double-jointed. That’s why (when) the kneecap dislocated, it only compromised one ligament, which is crazy, which is something that rarely happens. And it could accelerate Patrick Mahomes’ return to the field.”
So, Mahomes has super powers on the field, as well as some form of ‘loose ligament’ structure which allows him to recover from injury much faster than average players, another reason to justify his new monster contract.
Only time will tell
In the NFL, when you see a guy who you know is special, both in terms of his footballing ability and leadership, you pay him. It has been an intrinsic belief in the league for years, and does not come without it fallbacks. It is at this point that I cannot help but mention the contract disputes between Jamal Adams and the New York Jets. Players that ask for too much too soon is becoming an issue throughout the league, and players who do not honour their rookie contracts when they sign out of the draft are becoming a more frequent issue for franchises all around the league. Mahomes, however, never caused such issues. To put this into perspective, he was paid less than $4.5 million in 2019, 32nd-most amount all quarterbacks and 343rd among all active players. He knew that if he replicated the same level consistently, he would get the compensation he deserves, and he did. Jamal Adams is the best player I have seen in a Jets uniform since the days of Darell Revis, and like Mahomes, he will get paid, but all in good time.
I am unsure if in the modern era you can justify $503 million on a single player, but that is a discussion for another time. One thing I am certain of, is that Mahomes has likely changed the salary structure of players in this league forever. Much like when Ronaldo signed for Real Madrid back in 2010 for a record-breaking £80 million, the entire mindset and structure of transfer fees changed. In a league which already compensates incredibly generously, the NFLs salary structure will never be the same again. This has potentially negative repercussions down the line, as we will likely continue to see increases in players demanding too much too soon and comparing themselves to others in a way we have not seen before. Or perhaps this is being over-exaggerated, and Mahomes is simply receiving Baseball money in a football career. The way the league will change, and whether or not this will go down as the best decision in the Chiefs history, are both total uncertainties, and the truth is, only time will tell.