Background: Feb 13, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes speaks flanked by Vince Lombardi Trophy during the Super Bowl 57 Winning Team Head Coach and MVP press conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee
Up until this year’s Super Bowl, the highest cap hit for a winning team’s QB was $26.5M, which was set by the Rams’ Matthew Stafford in February of 2022.
One of the main reasons why Super Bowl winning QBs have not taken up a large percentage of their team’s caps has been Tom Brady’s willingness to take team-friendly deals so that it gives his team the extra cap space to build a championship caliber roster.
Because of Tom Brady’s eagerness to take team-friendly deals, I have been predicting that another high profile star QB will follow in Brady’s path and that eventually the average QB salaries will start to decrease, rather than continue to rise.
In recent days we have been hearing rumors about QBs like Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts commanding more than $50M a year. The word out of New York is that Daniel Jones is looking to be paid in the vicinity of $45M a year. He has recently hired a new agent who may advise Jones to come down on his asking price. Or maybe not.
But, what’s significant is that with the Chiefs winning this year’s Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes has become the first QB in NFL history to win a Super bowl counting more than $35M on the salary cap.
Mahomes counted $35.8M on the Chiefs’ 2022 cap.
What we have yet to see is a QB counting more than $40M a year win a Super Bowl. If Mahomes repeats the feat next year, he would be the first. Mahomes’ 2023 cap figure is $46.8M.
The top 5 highest cap hit for QBs in 2023:
- Deshaun Watson – $54.99M
- Dak Prescott – $49.1M
- Patrick Mahomes – $46.8M
- Josh Allen – $39.8M
- Ryan Tannehill – $39.6M
What’s fascinating about the Chiefs winning this year’s Super Bowl is HOW they accomplished it.
In essence, this year’s Super Bowl was a matchup between two different models for teams trying to win a Super Bowl:
- Model 1: try to win it with a high paid QB and a host of young players on rookie contracts.
- Model 2: try to win it with a QB still on his rookie deal and a host of veteran players.
And then there is a third model —- the “All-In” method that the Rams pulled off in 2021.
- Model 3: try to win it by trading for a good, veteran QB whom they can sign to a new deal that will enable them, for a year or two, to backload the QB’s yearly salaries and then give up extensive draft capital to trade for some Pro Bowl caliber veterans. (Note —- this model also includes the scenario of signing a QB heading out of his rookie deal to a rich contract that the team can also backload to buy a couple of years, so that in the short term, the QB’s cap hits are not prohibitive.
One of the questions that is not asked enough is just how much money do these QBs really need?
There is a pervading expectation that QBs, for the sake of all other QBs, should take as much money as they can in order to keep the top salary needle moving forward and upward,
Then there is the sense that QB’s salaries have become a status symbol for just how appreciated the QBs are by their organizations.
The truth is that the vast majority of the top QBs in the NFL could actually make a handsome living simply on the tv ads and endorsements they are offered each year.
Tom Brady knew this and cashed in on it.
What QBs can’t buy is a Lombardi trophy for their coaches, teammates and themselves.
And, it stands to reason that the more the QBs count against their teams’ salary caps, the less likely their teams are to win a Super Bowl.
This brings us back to HOW the Chiefs pulled off this stunning victory in what was supposed to be perhaps a bit of a “reset” year following their decision to trade All Pro WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins for:
- 2022 first-round pick (No. 29 overall)
- 2022 second-round pick (No. 50 overall),
- 2022 fourth-round pick
- 2023 fourth-round pick
- 2023 sixth-round pick
So, then, look at how the Chiefs absolutely crushed their 2022 NFL Draft:
- Round 1: No. 21 (from NE) – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
- Round 1: No. 30 – George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
- Round 2: No. 54 (from NE) – Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
- Round 2: No. 62 – Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati
- Round 3: No. 103 – Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
- Round 4: No. 135 – Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State
- Round 5: No. 145 (from SEA via DET via DEN) – Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky
- Round 7: No. 243 (from LV via NE) – Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington State
- Round 7: No. 251 – Isaih Pachecho, RB, Rutgers
- Round 7: No. 259 – Nazeeh Johnson, S, Marshall
Trent McDuffie, George Karlaftis, Bryon Cook, Leo Chenal, Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson started multiple games on the Chiefs’ defense. The Chiefs started five of them in the AFC Championship game and in the Super Bowl. And, per PFF, the Chiefs finished the season at the NFL’s 5th best defense, with a grade of 79.3. Kudos to DC Steve Spagnuolo and his assistant coaches.
Skyy Moore had the huge punt return in the AFC Championship to help set up the game winning FG and he caught the game winning TD in the Super Bowl.
7th round super steal, RB Isaih Pacheco had well over 1,000 yards rushing a receiving averaging 4.9 yards per carry and in the Super Bowl he carried the ball 15 times for 76 yards (5.1 ave.) and 1 TD.
Wait, it gets even better.
Have you seen the draft capital the Chiefs have in the 2023 NFL Draft? Are you sitting down?
Chiefs’ 2023 Draft Picks:
- #100 (comp)
- #123 (from MIA)
- #133 (from PHI), #168.
- #217 (comp)
- #219 (comp)
- #227 (from ATL)
- #257 (comp)
The Chiefs had 11 picks last year and they are already scheduled to have 11 picks this year.
Just for shiggs and gittles here’s a Chiefs’ Mock from the PFF Simulator:
- The Cardinals should follow Model 1: try to win it with a high paid QB and a host of young players on rookie contracts.
With over 30 of their own UFAs hitting free agency and Kyler Murray’s cap hit jumping from $16M this year to $51.9M in 2024, It would behoove the Cardinals to acquire as much draft capital as possible. In addition, it should behoove the Cardinals to do what the Chiefs did —- coach up and play the rookies from the get-go.
The Cardinals currently have 8 draft picks:
- 96 (comp)
- 169 (comp)
- 213 (comp).
- It would be great of the Cardinals could wind up having 11 draft picks this year, the same number the Chiefs had in their bonanza of a draft last year.
In my weekly mock on Friday, I am going to go into it with the goal of winding up with 11 picks. If and when you are on a draft simulator, try to do the same. Let’s see what we as a team can up with.