Our advice to Patrick Mahomes would have been to wait

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The fact that a player can do a long-term deal after three NFL regular seasons doesn’t mean he should. Many players have resisted offers, opting to watch and to wait and to bet on themselves (including their ability to stay healthy) while building more and more leverage.

The most recent example of that dynamic comes from Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. He rejected significant offers from the Cowboys in 2019, choosing to earn only $2 million in football salary while now positioning himself for even better offers in 2020. To date, he has resisted those offers, too, choosing to cling to a bird in the hand that will pay out $31.4 million this year, $37.68 million if tagged next year, and a 44-percent raise over $37.68 million ($54.25 million) if franchise-tagged a third time in 2022. If not tagged, he goes to the open market.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, like Prescott, should have waited. Multiple league insiders who have concerns about the quality of the Mahomes deal and its potential impact on future contracts, quarterbacks and otherwise, speculate that agent Leigh Steinberg feared that waiting may have resulted in Mahomes hiring someone else to do the deal — especially after Prescott (represented by CAA) signs his new deal or after Deshaun Watson (represented by Athletes First) signs his. Getting the Mahomes deal done now locks in a significant fee for up to 12 years. If Mahomes had left, Steinberg wouldn’t have gotten a fee on the second deal.

The math backs up the case for patience. If Mahomes would have waited, he would have made $27.63 million over the next two seasons. In 2022, the Chiefs would have applied the exclusive franchise tag. In 2023, Mahomes would have received a 20-percent bump over that amount. In 2023, the increase would have spiked to 44 percent over his salary in 2022.

Currently, the exclusive franchise tag for quarterbacks (the average of the five highest quarterback cap numbers for the current year) amounts to $31.4 million. By 2022, it likely will be higher. But even at $31.4 million, Mahomes would make $123.33 million in three years under the franchise tag. Adding in the $27.63 million he’s due to make over the next two years, it’s a five-year haul of $150.96 million.

How much will Mahomes make under the first five years of his 12-year contract? $141.48 million.

The benefit in taking less than he could have gotten under the year-to-year approach comes from the $140 million in injury guarantees. Still, how many quarterbacks suffer truly career-ending injuries? The more likely outcome is that the quarterback is injured, he passes a physical, but he’s no longer as good as he once was, putting him at risk of being released. That doesn’t trigger the injury guarantee.

Mahomes instead could have gotten $140 million in insurance for a career-ending injury, and it would have cost a lot less than the $9.48 million gap between what he would have made over five years if he’d gone year to year and what he’ll make over the next five years on his 12-year deal.

And here’s the kicker. After five years of year-to-year football, Mahomes most likely would have hit the open market. (The question of whether a fourth tag can be used hasn’t been litigated; the union believes it’s not permitted.) By then, the cap will be greater, the market will be higher, and Mahomes would have become the highest paid player in league history. After five years of his long-term deal, Mahomes is still committed to the Chiefs. For seven more years.

Thus, he should have waited. This isn’t about cap number or leaving enough money behind to sign other players. This is about a rare talent striking the right balance between how much he makes and how much the team retains in its coffers.

If Mahomes wanted to do a 12-year deal, the contract should have protected him with a set percentage of the salary cap. Some believe that Steinberg simply wanted to be able to claim “history made” as to Mahomes becoming the first player in league history with a contract worth more than $500 million. Even if the contract actually has a base salary of $477 million.

23 responses to “Our advice to Patrick Mahomes would have been to wait

  1. Umm, the dude almost blew out an acl and a knee cap last year on a simple qb sneak.

    He has the richest contract in nfl history into a recession, possible
    depression and no 2021 season with a likely re-negotiated tv deal after the lost 2020 season and a lowered cap of possibly 80 mil in 2021.

    This is the worst logic I have ever seen. If the time comes where he wants to re-negotiate with the Chiefs over the barrel, rip this contract up or ask for a trade, as his leverage.

    Stop with the “he left money on the table” during Covid19. Ridiculous premise. KC may not even make the playoffs in 2021 with his cap hits starting to ruin their roster health.

  2. Sound logic. The only issue with the logic is the assumption that every individual on the planet is more interested in squeezing every penny they can out of something over peace of mind and being more than content with “plenty”.

    Pat Mahomes is what, 24? He’s in his early/mid 20’s and just signed a contract that will bring in over half a BILLION dollars over the next decade. For many rational people that is “plenty”. For the greedy, sure, there could have been more.

  3. I mean, he’s got a contract that can be worth a half a billion dollars. At that point, what else do you need? That’s life changing money for multiple generations of his family. I would have done the same thing.

    Your career can end in a single play, and I wouldn’t personally risk it.

  4. Mahomes tweeted about a dynasty. Clearly this is a page out of Tom Brady’s playbook to sign a deal that gives them flexibility to sign other players and build a very strong team. He wants a dynasty, he wants to get more Super Bowl rings than TB12. I like it.

  5. This is classic shortsightedness. He won a Super Bowl. He signed a long term contract. he is working to become the face of the league. THAT is worth SOOO much more than a contract. Ask Michael Jordan. Had he played today he would have made more than he did. But still nowhere near what he did as a brand. Mahomes is smart and is working to become a brand himself. This cements his brand with the Chiefs, and doesn’t cement him as someone looking to get paid.

  6. Your argument is flawed- because you assume that the sole motivation of people is money. If Mahomes goal is to make more money than anyone else – then yes this was a bad decision.

    But look at it from this perspective. He is making more money than any other player to date. He and his family will likely never want for anything. My guess is he likes the area he lives in, enjoys playing for the coach and leadership with the Chiefs, etc.

    And yes – where this contract might not age well from “his perspective” – it’s not like he’s working for free. And, it also means that there could be more money available for the team to surround him with skilled players – which will go a long way towards future success.

    Could he have pushed for more money? I guess. Maybe then KC couldn’t have afforded to keep him. Maybe it means going to another team. Grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes companies will lay more but it’s a horrible place to work. But, I guess at least you make more money.

  7. Did it ever cross PFT’s minds that Mahomes wanted the security of the deal, plus he’s giving the Chiefs a chance to plan for the future based on his cap number. Knowing Mahomes cap number for years to come will make it easier to keep talent around him

  8. I get the news is slow, but how many stories will you be running saying the contract was a bad one? This has to be the 3rd story with the same topic… He didn’t sign for as much money as you think he should have. We get it Florio!

  9. It doesn’t get much more first-world than nitpicking a contract of this magnitude. My guess is Mahomes is a man who just truly in his heart of hearts isn’t all about the money. He certainly carries himself that way. It’s not my, or anyone else’s, place to say that someone should have fought for more money if the person in question simply doesn’t have the desire to.

  10. It will be interesting when Watson asks for a contract greater than Mahomes. Watson is no Mahomes.

  11. Mahomes (MVP, Superbowl MVP, Superbowl Champion) signs with no apparent issues when he could easily have not signed or squeezed every possible cent out of the Chiefs.

    Prescott wants 40 million per season (1 playoff win, 0 MVPs, 0 Superbowls and career defining loss to Eagles AAF team in must win game).

    One of these guys has a team first outlook. The other? Me, me, me!!!

    Easy comparison and even ewsier to see why Jerrys Cowboys remain mired in mediocrityl

  12. Usually if people want someones advice they ask for it. Otherwise, just butt out and the person probably doesn’t care what you think cause its THEIR LIFE. Why do people always feel the need to dictate how someone else should live their lives and the decisions they make?

  13. IF THE PRIORITY FOR MAHOMES WAS TO EARN EVERY DOLLAR POSSIBLE, he should have waited, yes. Luckily, there are people in this world who don’t obsess over every dollar, especially when “filthy rich” is already on the table. Don’t forget that every dollar Mahomes sucked in would be one dollar fewer available for the Chiefs to spend on others…it isn’t as if the Chiefs will spend less with Mahomes leaving money on the table, but rather will get to invest that “saved” money in even more talent. I know this doesn’t compute for people who want everything they can get (nothing wrong with that), but there it is.

  14. Patrick Mahomes advises PFT to grow a foot, speed up a second in the 40 and learn how to actually throw a spiral. And fact check anything on Bradshaw.

  15. Smart move on his part. The NFL is about to tank, it might be fast, it might be slow but tank it’s going to. It’ll get off to a fast start this year. If this anthem thing itself hasn’t driven people to not watch the very first time the guilt ridden stand for the “black national anthem” and then watch all these players take a knee for what I assume is now the “white national anthem” they’ll finally have enough.

  16. If someone gives me the choice: sign a contract today and you get $400 million…or wait 2 years, then jump through hoops of franchise tags and posturing back and forth with the team through the media, while praying you don’t shred your ACL on any given day, so you might be able to get $600 million?

    I’m taking the money in my hand and sleeping good for the rest of my life!

  17. Hard to fault your analysis Mike. However, in what is kind of a weird stat, the highest paid QB in the league is seldom, maybe never, participating in the Super Bowl. Don’t get me wrong, you need a great QB to get you to the Super Bowl, just not the highest paid one. Pat’s long-term vision seems to be “how can I leave a little something on the table for my GM to build a Super Bowl team every year?” By that metric, I’d say this was a very fine deal.

  18. Some people, especially in today’s age, are never happy. And it’s easy to tell the ones telling others what to do with their money vs the ones who’ve earned it.

    We should all follow the right way.

  19. He doesn’t have a contract for $500 million. He has a contract that will allow him to make that much IF year after year, the Chiefs decide to continue with the contract. They have the option, not Mahomes. The guaranteed money in this contract is less than other QB’s contracts.

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