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Uncharted territory: Mahomes new deal resets NFL market

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It has been said time and time again that the position of the quarterback is not only the most valuable in all of football but in all of sports. “He changed the skyline… he changed the skyline of the city”, David Letterman said at the statue unveiling of Peyton Manning outside Lucas Oil Stadium in 2017. If you nail the position of quarterback, not only with the trajectory of your franchise point upwards but the entire city you fight for.

What Peyton Manning did to Indianapolis – turning Indy from a quaint fly-over town to a modern American city akin to that of Houston or Chicago – is set to be emulated by Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.

As a result of Mahomes’ skyline altering potential, on Monday it was revealed that Mahomes would receive an earth-shattering 10-year contract worth a total of $503 million, putting Mahomes halfway to billionaire status. The full details of Mahomes’ contract are so:

  • This new contract is added on to the end of Mahomes’ current 2-year deal, so it ties Mahomes to the Chiefs for twelve years.
  • The base value is $477.631 million with $25 million in incentives that could make the deal rise to a total of $503 million.
  • The incentives include an additional $1.25 million for every AFC Championship game victory and every MVP award win.
  • Mahomes’ contract only has a total of $63 million guaranteed.
  • $141 million in injury guarantees.
  • Per Spotrac, Mahomes’ largest cap hit will come in 2027 with $59.9 million.
  • The contract is structured in a way that Mahomes receives relatively small base salaries for the first few years – until 2025 when Mahomes will not earn less than $40 million per year.
  • The bulk of that $450 million comes in roster bonuses – as long as Mahomes stays on the Chiefs, he’ll rake in a load of cash.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero broke down the deal by dates here:

In terms of how Mahomes’ mega-deal effects the rest of the NFL, we could start to see this baseball-type contract be applied to players of equal value across the league. The second-highest average salary in the NFL behind Mahomes’ $45 million per year is Seahawks QB, Russell Wilson. Wilson is currently averaging $35 million per year – a full £10 million behind Mahomes. The next closest non-QB player is Khalil Mack with $23.5 million per year – $11.5 million behind Wilson and $21.5 million behind Mahomes.

The Mahomes deal is assured to send ripple effects throughout the NFL, particularly the front offices of the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have seemingly run out of time on the Dak Prescott front and must either bite the bullet and tie the next decade or half-decade to Dak or cut him loose. While Dak certainly won’t be receiving Mahomes type money, it is to be believed that the Prescott camp will be eyeing up something north of Wilson’s $35 million per year with an additional top-up due to the Mahomes news.


In a similar situation to Prescott lies Deshaun ‘so freaking awesome’ Watson. Watson has been largely responsible for carrying the Texans into the 10 win bracket and the postseason since his arrival in 2017. With his partner in crime Nuke Hopkins traded away to Arizona this past offseason, Watson is expected to carry even more of the load this upcoming season. The added responsibility, along with the Mahomes tide, is helping lay the groundwork for Watson to receive a massive payday from the Texans.

Even Watson himself knows it.

For Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, things may be a little different. While it may be a tad bit cliche, there is a genuine worry about how many years Jackson can sustain this level of play with his legs. All it takes is one bad hit for Jackson to miss significant time, and while that applies to all quarterbacks, it’s especially relevant for those dual-threat QBs. Jackson is for sure going to receive stellar money from the Ravens but it will be interesting to see whether or not Harbaugh and co. opt to tie themselves to Jackson for a similar length of time the Chiefs did Mahomes.

Even when considering the astronomical $450-500 million that Mahomes could earn by 2031, we could be looking back in a few years at how much of a bargain the deal has become. That’s the type of talent Mahomes is. Certain quarterbacks change the fortune of franchises and others, they change the skylines of the cities they represent. And as a result of the Mahomes deal, certain front offices are going to have to cut-throat in distinguishing the two.


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