The Real MVP: Analysing Patrick Mahomes' historic new deal
The reigning Super Bowl MVP's contract extension could see him surpass stars like LeBron James to become the highest-paid player in sports history.
Patrick Mahomes has made a career of doing things nobody has ever seen before on the NFL field.
Now, he’s making history off the field, too.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP has signed a $450m contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs that has smashed records not just in the NFL, but in all of sports.
The 10-year deal, which officially begins in 2022, will see Mahomes earn an average of $45m per year and up to $503m in total if he hits all the incentives, including bonuses for Super Bowl appearances and being named NFL MVP.
It is unlike any other contract in history, both in terms of salary and the length of the agreement.
The previous record for the league’s biggest contract was Matt Ryan’s 2018 extension with the Atlanta Falcons, which was worth a measly $150m spread over five years.
Last year, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson signed a four-year, $140m extension, which represented the largest average yearly salary in NFL history.
Those contracts are now dwarfed by the shiny new deal signed by Mahomes, who is the favourite in the NFL betting to be named league MVP in the upcoming season.
His extension is just the second NFL contract of 10+ years ever, after Michael Vick’s 10-year, $130m deal signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005.
In fact, it’s just the third contract in league history to last more than six years.
And it’s not just other NFL players that Mahomes is now comfortably out-earning.
Baseball has seen plenty of huge deals handed out over the past few years, but the biggest in MLB history is the one Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, which is worth $427m spread over 12 years at an average of $35.5m per season.
It’s fair to say that Mahomes has earned his payday.
The 24-year-old has been incredible in just over two full seasons in the NFL. After starting one game in his 2017 rookie campaign, he was named league MVP in 2018, leading the league with 50 passing touchdowns.
Last season, his playoff heroics led Kansas City to their first Super Bowl win in 40 years.
Mahomes has provided a massive return on the $16.4m contract he signed as a first-round draft pick in 2017.
He topped Spotrac’s NFL value rankings – which take into account a player’s salary as well as his performance – for his 2018 MVP campaign, and he was fifth in value among quarterbacks last season despite missing part of the regular season through injury.
Mahomes has earned $13.72m to date at an average of $4.6m per season, $443k per game and $181k per touchdown.
To put those numbers into context, Mitchel Trubisky – who was drafted eight spots ahead of Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft – has cost the Chicago Bears $24.63m in total. That’s $8.2m per season, $601k per game and $513k per touchdown.
Mahomes won’t be topping the value rankings again any time soon, however, as he is now on track to be the highest earner in the history of American sports.
Former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has earned more money than any other player in NFL history, having made a total of $252.3m over the course of his 16-year career.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has made $306.9m in 17 years in the NBA, while former MLB first baseman Albert Pujols tops the charts with a total of $309.2m across 21 seasons.
Even without taking into account the incentives built into the contract, Mahomes’ deal has the potential to take him more than $100m clear of all those players by the time he’s 36.
There is a good chance that he never reaches the end of this contract or makes the half a billion dollars he could potentially earn from it.
Only $141.5m is currently guaranteed, and the Chiefs can release him without penalty after the 2024 season.
Barring a catastrophic injury, however, it is almost inconceivable that Kansas City would cut a player who looks set to dominate the NFL deep into his 30s.
As the vast of majority of Mahomes’ money is tied up in roster bonuses rather than base salary, he will continue to earn huge amounts of cash on this deal for as long as he remains the Chiefs’ quarterback.
The likeliest scenario is that the contract will be restructured further down the line adding more guaranteed money for Mahomes while giving the Kansas City more salary cap flexibility.
Should his career play out like NFL greats Tom Brady and Drew Brees, both of whom are still raking in $25m a year in salary in their 40s, there’s also a good chance Mahomes will sign lucrative deals beyond the completion of this extension.
One thing is for sure, though – as long as Mahomes stays healthy, he’s going to be very well compensated for being the biggest star in the NFL.
And if he continues to deliver championships for the Chiefs, he’ll be worth every cent.