Monday afternoon, Adam Schefter of ESPN broke news of Patrick Mahomes new contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs. More specifically, Mahomes signed the largest contract ever signed in American professional sports. The $450 Million contract may be worth up to $503 Million by the time it’s done. It is worth a bare minimum of the $140 Million injury guarantee. And it has a no-trade clause that secures his home in Kansas City through the end of the 2031 season.
The eye opening dollar amount is the headliner. But it’s not as interesting as just how long the contract is. In the history of the NFL, there have only been five contracts of ten or more years: Drew Bledsoe (10-year, $103 Million) in 2001, Brett Favre (10-year, $100 Million) in 2001, Donovan McNabb (12-year, $115 Million) in 2002, Daunte Culpepper (10-year, $102 Million) in 2003, and Michael Vick (10-year, $130 Million). Of the five, only Vick was also under 25-years-old when signing the contract. None of the five finished the contract the franchise they signed it with. Four of the five were traded, and Michael Vick was released amidst legal issues.
Vick’s release came just two years into the ten-year contract, and served as an example on why folks shouldn’t give young quarterbacks decade long deals. Bledsoe and Favre were replaced with future Hall of Famers, and served as examples of why you shouldn’t give veteran quarterbacks decade long deals.
But that does make some logical sense. Statista.com claims the average NFL career length is just 3.3 years, and that the average Quarterback career length is 4.44. The current rookie wage scale puts a limit of four years on rookie contract length. Thus the average player doesn’t even get a second contract, and even an average quarterback isn’t guaranteed much more.
That’s what makes Patrick Mahomes’ deal so unbelievable… the extension itself is more than three times as long as the average NFL-career, and twice as long as the average Quarterback’s career. That’s nuts. How nuts? He is now under contract, with the Chiefs for the next 11-years. And 11-years ago?
Patrick Mahomes II was a 13-year old middle school kid at Whitehouse Junior High. He was still playing basketball and baseball. He had only played a couple of years of organized football, and was actually a better baseball prospect. His love for baseball came from his father…
Who, 11-years ago, was still playing professional baseball. Patrick Mahomes Sr. split the 2009 season between the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Texas Airhogs of Grand Prairie, Texas.
11-years ago, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards. Yes, the same Kanye West.
11-years ago, the 13-year-old Mahomes was probably too young to be jamming out to the new hit song by LMFAO & Lil’ Jon called Shots. He was definitely too young to watch the summer comedic blockbuster The Hangover.
11-years ago, the highest paid Quarterback was Peyton Manning at $21.2 Million. Before Mahomes new contract, Russell Wilson was the highest paid Quarterback. He made $35 Million last season. In fact, last season 15 Quarterbacks made more than $21.2 Million.
COVID’s impact on sports contracts remains uncertain. There have been very few long term NFL deals signed this off-season, certainly nothing close to the 10-year extension Mahomes signed. But even if the average NFL compensation takes a blip for a couple of years, expectations are that the exponential growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The contracts have doubled in value in the last 11-years. Mahomes new deal doesn’t double Russell Wilson’s current value by the end of it. In fact, in the next three seasons, he actually stands to make almost $30 Million less than Ryan Tannehill. This is in large part due to the nature of an extension- next season Mahomes’ starting salary is $10.825 Million after bonuses. In the last year, he should be making almost $52.5 Million. But if the growth was relatively similar to the last 11-years, we may be seeing top tier quarterbacks making over $60 Million in 2031.
In a sport where so little is guaranteed, it is understandable that the young superstar wanted the safety net. And, if the contracts do double up, Mahomes will only be 35 at the end of it. For reference, seven starting Quarterbacks this season were over 35-years-old, two of whom made the Pro Bowl (Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers). He may renegotiate if he and Kansas City win several Super Bowls, and by 2031 we may all be ready to hand him another 5-year deal. If history is a guide, just because Mahomes is playing football for the next ten years doesn’t mean it’s all going to be with Kansas City… but what about history has made us at all prepared for Patrick Mahomes?
And just maybe we’re going to look back at this contract just like we look back at things like Tiger King or DaBaby… with a weird mixture of nostalgia and dismay for things 11-years old.