The moment the 2019 regular season ended, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became eligible for a second contract. The longer the team waits to give him one, the more expensive it will get.
Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt suggested last week that the team could wait until after the 2020 season to extend Mahomes. That would give the Chiefs another ultra-affordable year with the best player on the planet, at a salary of $735,000, a roster bonus of $1.969 million, and a cap number of $5.226 million. In 2021, the option year under Mahomes’ first-round deal, he’d be entitled to an amount equal to the 2020 transition tag for quarterbacks, which should be in the range of $24 million.
Eventually, he’ll break the bank. The question becomes how much he’ll get, how much will be guaranteed for injury at signing, and how much will be fully guaranteed at signing.
On Monday, Mahomes downplayed the situation, specifically acknowledging that giving the Chiefs the ability to put a team around him will be a factor in the negotiations. Whether that puts him closer to Tom “Always Took Less” Brady than Peyton “Eff You, Pay Me” Manning remains to be seen. Still, it’s more than fair for Mahomes to take the position that it’s his job to play football, and that it’s the team’s job to figure out how to manage the salary cap.
The new-money analysis inevitably becomes a factor here, especially if the Chiefs tear up the current deal in a season that pays out only $2.7 million in 2020 and $24 million in 2021. To get Mahomes to a new-money average of $40 million (the number many have pegged as his value) on a five-year extension, the Chiefs would have to sign Mahomes to a seven-year deal worth $226.7 million. At signing, that’s an average of $32.38 million.
And if Mahomes insists on $40 million per year at signing on a five-year extension, that’s a seven-year, $280 million deal. And that’s equates to a new-money average of $50.66 million.
Getting through the fourth year of the deal narrows the gap between value at signing and new-money average, which could be one of the reasons for the potential delay. Mahomes, who makes plenty in endorsements and surely has insurance, has said nothing to suggest he’ll insist on a deal now.
There’s another factor to keep in mind here. Over the years, several players have tried to secure a term that guarantees a percentage of the cap, as the cap keeps going up. If Mahomes insists on that, Mahomes should be able to get it.
And he should insist on it. With the cap always climbing, contracts quickly become obsolete. Mahomes is worth 20 percent of the total cap in any given year, and the Chiefs should be happy to pay that to him.
It’s sort of like the justification for paying a lot in taxes. It’s the price of making a lot of money, which is a good thing. Having Mahomes is a very good thing, and the Chiefs should realize sooner than later that they need to treat him differently than they would treat any other player they ever have, will, or would employ.