Not only is he young (24 years old) and accomplished (he already has a Super Bowl MVP and an MVP under his belt), he also plays quarterback, the game’s most important position.
To be sure, there were no shortage of agents and players throughout the league rooting for him to change the game with his contract extension with the Chiefs, something he could have accomplished by forcing the team’s hand to give him a percentage of his salary tied to the salary cap.
Doing so likely would have required a contentious negotiation, one that could have gotten messy. And with the Chiefs having club control of him for at least the next four years, it also could have gotten lengthy.
So Mahomes eschewed that in favor of a deal that allowed him to accomplish the only two things he’s cared about since he entered this league in 2017: providing long-term security for his family and leaving a football legacy.
“I just wanted to have the security of knowing I’ll be a Kansas City Chief for a long time,” Mahomes told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday.
Patrick Mahomes’ deal also rewards teammates
Mahomes values his situation in Kansas City so much that he and his agents — Leigh Steinberg and Chris Cabott — worked hand-in-hand with the team on a contract that all parties insist will give the Chiefs flexibility the franchise needs to surround him with great players for years to come, despite the significant chunk of money he’s set to earn over the next decade-plus.
“Every aspect of the NFL is competitive, and deals are no different — it was unique in the sense there was never a sense of ‘we need to win this’ … this was, ‘how can we get this done?’” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach told reporters during the same call on Tuesday
And, Veach said, Mahomes deserves credit for that.
“Because ultimately, Chris and Leigh work for Pat, and Pat has to have this long-term vision on what he wants his legacy to be,” Veach said. “I’ve seen it in all different forms and fashion, with bigger deals and [smaller] deals, and there’s always a contentious point. And I don’t think it ever reached that because we were just all on the same page — we were all committed to making this work.”
It’s almost impossible, Veach added, to do the biggest contract in sports history and have the player look unselfish. Somehow, Mahomes has.
“Pat is able to do this in a unique way where he’s the highest-paid player in the game and will be for a long time, yet does so in a way that allows us to reward his teammates along the way,” Veach said. “It’s very unique.”
It was also very, very important to Mahomes, whose conversations with his father, Pat, and godfather, LaTroy Hawkins — both were longtime Major League ballplayers who’d seen many great players get paid over the years — backed up his inclination to work with the team on a deal that’s beneficial for both sides.
“I think the biggest thing they preached to me is the same thing I’d already thought, and it was good to hear from them, is that you want to have great players around you — you don’t want to be a guy that takes up all the money and then all of a sudden, you’re having to find different guys that will take cheaper deals,” Mahomes said. “Because those guys need to be rewarded as well. It’s not about one person, and I truly believe that.
“I know the situation I was brought into and how good of a situation it was. I got to sit a year behind a great quarterback [Alex Smith] who taught me a lot, and I got to play with a lot of great players the moment I stepped on the football field. So I understand I have a bigger perspective, I guess you would say, of how to get the security that I want, but at the same time reward the guys that have helped me be the person that I am and the player that I am. And I feel like, with the contract and how it was done, I feel like I got both of [those] things done.”
Chiefs’ front office bodes well for long-term success
Mahomes added that you can’t do a deal like this with every organization, presumably because every team isn’t run as well as the Chiefs. But he felt comfortable doing it because of the relationships he has built with the front office and coaching staff, many of whom he hopes will be in place for a long time.
That includes Veach, who is just 41, and head coach Andy Reid, who is 62. Reid, who is entering his 22nd season as an NFL head coach and will one day go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said on Tuesday that he hasn’t thought about retirement — “If it takes me into my 70s, let’s roll. I’m ready to do that,” he said — and Mahomes said Reid confirmed the same thing to him.
“I talked to him, I think, before I signed the deal,” Mahomes said, “and he said to me what he said to y’all — that he had no thoughts of retiring anytime soon.”
And the Chiefs, of course, couldn’t be more thrilled about their future. Yes, the amount of money owed to Mahomes — it boasts an average annual value of $45 million, nearly $10 million more than the next closest player — is huge, especially in light of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. But that, and the inherent risk of injury, are also two of the reasons Mahomes was comfortable signing an uncommonly long deal that will keep him in Kansas City through his age-36 season.
“You never know what can happen in this sport — that’s the biggest thing about football,” Mahomes said. “But at the same time, look at the world we’re in today and stuff could happen that way, too.”
From the Chiefs’ perspective, Veach said the beneficial thing about the structure of the contract is the certainty in regard to what they’ll be paying Mahomes for the next decade, as opposed to the uncertainty that would have been created by paying him, say, a percentage of the salary cap.
“Structure and stability will lead to success” Veach said, “and the contract, the way it’s laid out, it allows for us to have a definitive working number to work from every year … as opposed to the unknown, which is never a good scenario for a team to encounter during the offseason.”
There are even things the Chiefs can do within Mahomes’ contract to create cap space if necessary, he added.
“He was very conscious about the whole situation about being able to keep players,” Reid said of Mahomes. “That was in the dialogue there, and he made it known to us.”
And the dialogue lasted a long time. For more than a year, Veach, director of football administration Brandt Tilis and football operations counsel and personnel executive Chris Shea huddled regularly to structure a “baseball-like” contract that would be attractive to Mahomes and his agents, with Veach noting that he and Cabott even huddled before games last season, hammering out the deal.
And in the end, they landed on a historic agreement, with Mahomes even receiving the good news on July 4 that the deal was nearly done.
“I got that [news] on July 4 and ended up signing July 6,” Mahomes said. “So it was a great July 4, seeing the fireworks in the backyard with my family.”
Mahomes insisted multiple times Tuesday that it has never been about money for him, something he ultimately backed up by working hand-in-hand with the only professional football team he has ever known on a new contract that had parties on both sides smiling ear-to-ear in the aftermath of it on Tuesday.
“We’re going to be a good football team,” Mahomes said, “for a long time.”
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