Last week, Super Bowl-winning Kansas City NFL team quarterback Patrick Mahomes shocked the sports world by signing the biggest contract not just in NFL history, but in all of U.S. sports history. Despite commentary, Mahomes’ contract is not a sign of a shift in NFL contracts and is really more an indication of just how rare a player he is.
Mahomes’ contract is beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. In January, headlines speculated he could get the first $200 million contract in NFL history; instead, he got the first $500 million contract in sports history. The deal lasts 10 years, double what the sports world would normally consider a long extension of around five years. The previous largest contract in NFL history was Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s five-year, $150-million deal. Mahomes is almost guaranteed that much money, with $140 million secured.
These numbers may make Mahomes seem like a bandit, but the deal makes sense for both him and his team. Kansas City has its franchise quarterback locked in for the next decade. Additionally, Kansas City was adamant the deal was not tied to the team’s salary cap. Thus, as the salary cap goes up and contracts get larger, Mahomes’ deal will look more pedestrian while he presumably continues to be one of the best players in the league.
There will be a few years in which Kansas City may feel burdened by Mahomes’ contract; I have previously discussed why having the highest-paid quarterback in the league limits a team’s ability to win Super Bowls, and the same should be true for Kansas City in the early years of Mahomes’ contract. However, this deal should allow Kansas City to potentially win a Super Bowl next season and again in the latter half of the contract when Mahomes consumes a smaller portion of the salary cap.
Mahomes does not have to worry about his value diminishing on his next contract because of injuries or a decline in play as he is locked in until 2031. Some of Mahomes’ potential teammates at the end of his deal are currently in elementary school. Additionally, $500 million is not a bad haul.
This deal should be great for everyone involved, but that is because of Mahomes. No other player in the NFL could ask for this deal without their general manager laughing them out of the room. As the youngest player to ever win both MVP and a Super Bowl, Mahomes has the potential to be one of the best players in NFL history.
Unless an NFL team knows they have an all-time quarterback who has yet to reach their prime, they are not going to hand them a 10-year deal. Mahomes has not signed the longest contract in NFL history, though. In 2002, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb signed a 12-year contract worth $115 million that worked out well, as the Eagles were able to trade McNabb in 2010 before the deal would have looked bad. McNabb was then benched in 2011. Some worse examples include Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper signing a 10-year deal in 2003 and quarterback Michael Vick signing a 10-year contract with Atlanta in 2004. Both Culpepper and Vick’s careers fell short, and many would argue their long contracts were not in the teams’ best interests.
Mahomes is as surefire as it gets, which allows Kansas City to make such a massive bet on him. For starters, Mahomes plays quarterback, the most important position in football, in which it is extremely difficult to find top-tier talent. Just ask the Cleveland Browns, who have been looking for a franchise quarterback since the ’90s. Talent is more evenly distributed at other positions, and it is also far less detrimental to have subpar talent at other spots on the field, making a gamble like Kansas City’s absurd for any position besides a quarterback.
The quarterback style also plays a huge factor in Mahomes’ deal. Unlike someone like Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who could match Mahomes’ resume with a 2021 Super Bowl, Mahomes’ game is centered around his arm. Even if Mahomes suffers a major injury, he should return to a similar level of play the next season. For Jackson, a knee injury could completely derail his career, similarly to former Rookie of the Year Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Mahomes lacks any off-the-field concerns that could cause problems, at least publicly, unlike Vick. In April 2007, Vick was investigated for running a dogfighting ring in Virginia. He was imprisoned for animal abuse, among other charges, and was suspended from the NFL. Mahomes does not have any known criminal record or off-field damages.
Finally, Mahomes has a resume stronger than anyone as young as he is, and it is unlikely anyone else will come close soon. Quarterbacks like Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who seems to have his eye on Mahomes’ contract, have yet to prove themselves enough to earn contracts in the same stratosphere as Mahomes; nobody ever has.
There very well could be other long-term deals around the corner, and Mahomes’ yearly salary will look less preposterous every year, but this combination of length and dollar amount in a contract is something we most likely will never see again.
Austin Barish is a sophomore in the College. Running the Post appears online every other week.