Another NFL season has concluded, and it comes as no surprise that Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs emerged as the last team standing. In what has become a familiar sight in the current NFL landscape, Kansas City lifted their 3rd Super Bowl Trophy in 5 years, becoming the first team since the 2003-04 Patriots to achieve back-to-back Lombardies.
Mahomes also made history by becoming the first QB in NFL history to win a Super Bowl while carrying the largest cap hit. The Chiefs QB is operating under a 10-year $450 million deal he signed in 2020, with an additional $53 million in potential bonuses, bringing the total to $503 million.
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Despite Mahomes’ impressive performances, the Chiefs faced offensive struggles this season, particularly in the receiving department. Many anticipated free agents flocking to Kansas City to help Mahomes, but that didn’t happen. And with a cap hit as grand as his, the upcoming season isn’t looking good for the Chiefs.
Moreover, the Chiefs encountered difficulties in utilizing free agency this season, and most players, like Chris Jones for example, were signed on a short-term deal. Their challenges in signing quality free agents stem in part from limited cap space, currently standing at only $25 million. Mahomes commands one of the most substantial contracts in NFL history, highlighting the key difference between him and Brady.
Brady claimed to have sacrificed up to $100 million during his time with the Patriots, ensuring the franchise had the financial means to attract talent and recruit successful coaches. Brady consistently ranked outside the top-paid quarterbacks from 2014 to 2018, despite his continued productivity and Super Bowl victories until the end of his career, as per Yahoo.com.
Mahomes, on the other hand, accounted for 17.2% of the Chiefs salary cap, while Brady never accounted for more than 12.6% in his whole career. This is why the Patriots and then Tampa Bay were able to sign players in free agency, which helped Brady compete at the highest level till the end. Nonetheless, it’s worth mentioning that Mahomes’ massive contract helped him break a longstanding record set by 49ers legend and HOF QB, Steve Young.
Patrick Mahomes Breaks Steve Young’s Record
Mahomes $50 million annual contract positions him as the highest-earning player in the Chiefs squad, accounting for 17.2% of the team’s cap space. In achieving this, he surpassed Steve Young’s record of holding 13.1% of the 49ers cap in 1994. Young had signed a 5-year, $25.25 million contract in 1993, earning $4.025 million in 1994, the year he won the Super Bowl and the NFL MVP title, as per Spotrac.
The two-time NFL MVP held the record until 2022. Even though Mahomes’ cap percentage has slightly changed in 2024, it is still the second-highest rate ever by a Super Bowl winner. Patrick’s new contract initiated the trend that elevated the base price for quarterback contract extensions. Since then, four QBs have inked deals worth more than $50 million a year, with Joe Burrow’s $275 million contract, earning him $55 million a year, making him the highest-paid quarterback in the league.
Furthermore, four more QBs are now earning more than $40 million annually. Mahomes’ contract highlights the importance of QBs in the system, leading to systems that favor and heavily rely on quarterbacks to perform even without top players around him. Coaches who can execute more aggressive play-calling, heavily rely on passing games, and get the best out of their shot callers, have been preferred over coaches with more defensive and pragmatic approaches like Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.
Patrick Mahomes’s unprecedented model for achieving success by being the highest-paid QB on the market has provided teams with new ways to succeed, even though all the other QBs who have been awarded similar contracts are yet to prove their worth.
Mahomes’ and the Chiefs’ recent success proves that teams don’t have to emulate Brady and the Patriots’ approach if they want to dominate the league in the coming years. It highlights that there is more than one way to skin the cat.