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Mahomes Alone

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NFL: Super Bowl LIV-Kansas City Chiefs Champions Parade Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Patrick Mahomes Contract (per Sportrac)

• $450M new money

• $477.6M 12-yr money

• $25M of SB/MVP incentives

• $63M cash thru 2022

• 2020-22 caps: 5.3/24.8/31.4

• $50M+ of dead cap every year

Congratulations to QB Patrick Mahomes for becoming the highest paid athlete in the history of American professional sports.

Amazing to think that back in 2018, Mahomes’ college coach at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury predicted that Mahomes would become the highest paid player in the NFL once he was signed to a second contract.

Amazing too to think that Mahomes was the 2nd QB taken in the 2017 draft, with Mitchell Trubisky being taken by the Bears with the #2 pick—-and that the Chiefs were able to trade up all the way from the #27 spot in round 1, for the #27 and #91 picks, plus the Chiefs’ #22 1st round pick in 2018. Note: the Bills’ starting QB at the time was Tyrod Taylor.

For those of you keeping score—-the net result for the Bills in how they used those three picks (with other trade maneuvers involved) was: CB Tra’Davious White, WR Zay Jones and LB Tremaine Edmonds—-plus the Bills turned around a year later and traded up to #7 from #12 to draft QB Josh Allen, giving the Bucs the #12, #53 and #56 picks in return.

While the Bills have drafted well—-it would be difficult to argue that they made out better on their 2017 deal with the Chiefs by passing on Patrick Mahomes, who in his first two years as a starter has won the NFL’s MVP award in 2018 (1st Team All-Pro), the Super Bowl in 2019 and with it the 2019 Super Bowl MVP award.

The timing of Mahomes’ historic $477.6M deal is fascinating for two very different reasons. Obviously, with the USA in the throes of the Black Lives Matter movement for the country to see a young, black QB become the highest paid athlete in professional sports is a noteworthy achievement.

Let’s not forget, either, that ten years ago, the idea of the black NFL QB was still considered an experiment. If you look back to the 2009 and 2010 NFL seasons, you won’t find a black QB anywhere near the top 10 because Donovan McNabb’s success had started to wane—-and it wasn’t until 2011 that a black QB cracked the top 10 in passing (#8—Josh Freeman, Bucs).

It wasn’t until 2012 that three black QBs made the top ten: rookie Robert Griffin III (#5, Redskins), rookie Russell Wilson (#7, Seahawks) and 2nd year QB Colin Kaepernick (#8, 49ers). While Griffin and Kaepernick were unable to sustain their early success (which again shed some doubts at the time on the black QB experiment), Wilson has remained a perennial Pro Bowler and MVP candidate—-and now—-the past two NFL MVPs have been won in stunning fashion by Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.

The current NFL trend of building high powered offenses around multi-dimensional athletes at the QB position, was further evidenced this year by the success of the Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray, the winner of the 2019 NFL Offense Rookie of the Year.

Take a look at the evolution of black NFL QBs over the past 10 years:

Top black NFL starting QBs by QB ranking in 2010 (per Pro Football Reference):

#15—-Josh Freeman, Bucs; #16—-Donovan McNabb, Redskins; #23 Michael Vick, Eagles; # 24—-David Garrard, Jaguars; #27—-Jason Campbell, Raiders

Top black NFL starting QBs by QB ranking in 2019 (per QB Index, NFL.com):

#1T—-Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs; #1T—-Lamar Jackson; #3—-Russell Wilson, Seahawks; #5—-Deshaun Watson, Texans; #11—-Dak Prescott, Cowboys; #13—-Kyler Murray, Cardinals; #22—-Jameis Winston, Bucs; #27—-Jacoby Brissett, Colts; #28—-Dwayne Haskins, Redskins

https://www.nfl.com/news/qb-index-ranking-every-quarterback-to-start-a-game-in-2019-0ap3000001101720

This is a salient testament to the burgeoning success of black NFL QBs.

While the historical perspective of Patrick Mahomes’ meteoric success is stunning, on the flip side, one could question why the Kansas City Chiefs would make this eye-popping deal with Patrick Mahomes in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sure, it is great for the Chiefs to secure a 12 year commitment with their outstanding young QB—-but—-first of all, they could have easily waited another year or two, with only having to commit $5.3M in 2020 cap space and $24.8M in 2021 cap space, which would have given the Chiefs a greater sense of clarity with regard to which direction the cap space ceilings are headed. There are strong reasons to believe that in light of the NFL revenue that could be lost in 2020, that the 2021 salary cap will be decreased.

It appears to be somewhat of a gamble for the Chiefs to assume that the United States’ economy will bounce back to being better than ever once there are effective vaccines for the virus.

What will happen to the Chiefs’ ability to field a championship caliber team when Patrick Mahomes’ cap hits are $45-50M?

Take a close look at who currently are the highest salaried QBs in the NFL:

NFL’s highest paid quarterbacks (average salary per year):

  • 1. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes: $45 million
  • 2. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson: $35 million
  • 3. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: $34 million
  • 4.Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: $33.5 million
  • 4. Rams QB Jared Goff: $33.5 million
  • 6. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins: $33 million
  • 7. Eagles QB Carson Wentz: $32 million
  • 8. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: $$30.1 million
  • 0. Falcons QB Matt Ryan: $30 million
  • 10. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill: $29.5 million

Of these QBs in the top 10, Mahomes, Wilson, Roethlisberger and Rodgers have won Super Bowls. Yet only one of them (Roethlisberger—2) has won more than one, thus far.

Did you notice the glaring omission on this list?

You know—-the QB with most Super Bowl wins, ever?

Was it just pure coincidence that Tom Brady was able to win 6 rings and play in 9 of the last 17 Super Bowls while agreeing to accept modest salaries so that the Patriots could try to maximize its talent in all three phases of their team?

Now, sure, there are a number of factors as to why the Patriots have been able to dominate the era of the NFL salary cap—-but their managing of the cap has to be considered one of the most significant ones.

There is no question that when a team invests close to a quarter or a fifth of its entire salary cap on one player, it makes it much more difficult for the team to re-sign their best core players.

Lastly, while it would seem that Patrick Mahomes has the kind of free, cool and easy personality to be able to handle the pressure that comes with being the highest paid player in his sport while merely entering his 4th season—-as time goes by, this pressure could start to have detrimental effects, particularly if the team is not achieving up to the local and national expectations.

Which begs the critical question—-is it better for a star QB to agree to taking a more modest contract, as Tom Brady has done, in order to give the team the best opportunity to win championships?

It’s not easy for any player to handle the pressure of having to live up to the highest of expectations. It’s a tricky psychology.

As a Cardinals’ fan, I am hoping that when it comes time for Kyler Murray to sign his next long-term contract with the team, that he and his agent will put the priority of trying to win championships over trying to bogart as many slices of the salary cap pie that he can.

I have heard thousands of NFL fans say that they fully encourage players to take as much money as they possibly can—-but—-as we know, that often comes at the expense of having to say goodbye to some of your favorite players who can make the difference between their favorite team being Super Bowl contenders or pretenders.

In light of the new $477.6M contract, have Patrick Mahomes, his agent and the Chiefs just made it more difficult for him and the team to win multiple championships?

History thus far with regard to the salary cap era would suggest that since the salary cap era began in 1994, the highest paid QBs in the NFL have not been able to win more than 2 Super Bowls (since 1994, John Elway, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are the only top 5 paid QBs to win 2). Note: since 1994, other top paid QBs such as Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Drew Brees only won 1 Super Bowl.

The exception, of course, is Tom Brady with 6—-who, by his own volition, has never been a top paid QB.

Therefore, what is your answer to the following questions—-

When Patrick Mahomes’ career is all said and done—-if he were to win just one more Super Bowl, at this point in time, would you consider that a disappointment?

Will Patrick Mahomes become the first salary cap era QB to have his cake and eat it too?