FOX Sports Insider
What’s really scary about Patrick Mahomes usually involves what he does, not what he says.
The “nasty” side of Kansas City’s two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback lies in the way he inflicts pain inside the white lines, punishing with a thousand cuts (or throws or runs), while defenses and linebackers they live in perpetual fear that the next soul-crushing move may just be a moment of inspiration.
Muhammad doesn’t snarl or grunt much, his voice isn’t harshly measured, his interview responses designed primarily to educate rather than intimidate. All in all, he seems like a nice guy.
This week, however, Mahomes made a series of comments that should strike terror into the hearts of every opposing team with designs on their own Super Bowls for years to come.
“Right now I’m more concerned with legacy and winning rings than winning money,” Mahomes told reporters. “We see what happens in the league. But at the same time, I will never do anything that will hurt us to keep the great players around me.”
Corporate speak? Saying the right thing for popularity or morality? Not so much. Mahomes, who has very quickly gone from a record-breaking contract value to little more than a standard annual salary earner, essentially said that while he’s not blind to the reality of the QB’s increased pay , does not seek to squeeze. every Chiefs dollar.
And that, in these days when managing the salary cap is the most mathematically complicated and nerve-wracking enabler of (or impediment to) success, could become the sport’s greatest asset.
Considering Mahomes is still only 27 years old, the Chiefs have already won a pair of Super Bowls, and their most abject “failures” have been two losses in the AFC Championship Game? Yes, this is scary.
Just think how fervently franchises pursue promising rookie QBs, under the assumption that taking a passable pitcher on a cheap contract and surrounding him with quality pieces is an ideal way to open a “championship window.”
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So what does it mean if you have the best signal caller in the National Football League on a long-term deal that offers him $15-20 million less than his market value? This is not opening the window; he’s taking a hammer from her.
In July 2020, Mahomes signed a huge deal, tying him to the Chiefs for a potentially staggering $503 million, but what was in real terms a 10-year extension at $45 million per year. In quick order, faster than expected, the market has caught up and moved forward.
Deshaun Watson got $46 million fully guaranteed annually by the Cleveland Browns despite not playing in 2021. Jalen Hurts, Mahomes’ opponent in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII triumph over Philadelphia in February, set a new record $51 million of dollars Before Hurts could cash his first check, Lamar Jackson raised the bar to $52 million a year, with Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert surely licking their lips.
Suddenly, Mahomes’ deal, with nine seasons to go, looks like the bargain of all deals. That doesn’t seem to bother him much.
“It’s not about being the highest paid guy and making a ton of money,” Mahomes added. “I’ve made enough money where I’ll be set for the rest of my life. You’ve got to find that line where you’re making a good amount of money and you’ve got these great players around you, so you can win these Super Bowls and you can compete in these games”.
Here’s the thing: To give the Chiefs a huge lead, Mahomes doesn’t have to do anything. Tom Brady consistently took below-market, team-friendly offers for virtually his entire career, allowing the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to stockpile quality pieces alongside him.
Mahomes is signed long-term, so he doesn’t even have to. He doesn’t need to go into talks and agree to a contract that would give him less than Jackson or Hurts, when clearly, based on the body of evidence, he deserves more. What is Muhammad’s real value compared to recent deals? $60 million a year? Maybe more?
All he has to do is get a few more years under the terms of his current deal before pushing for a renegotiation, and the Chiefs will be in prime territory to add to the collection of jewels.
Clearly, success is never guaranteed and change must be considered in Kansas City. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has joined the Washington Commanders, while Travis Kelce will turn 34 next season and has already hinted at his retirement.
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Pertinent for Mahomes, left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. he left for Cincinnati after the Chiefs opted to waive him. Before last season, Tyreek Hill was headed to Miami, despite his connection to Mahomes.
While Mahomes’ contract allows general manager Brett Veach some flexibility, it still doesn’t mean he can keep everyone or keep everyone happy.
Maybe the situation changes in the end. Maybe the QB money will get so out of hand that there comes a point where Mahomes gets tired of being a mid-market beneficiary, which is the direction things are headed.
Or maybe the legacy piece will be the enduring driver of their motivation. Remember this: Even with two Super Bowl titles, he’s in rare quarterback air. One more ring would put him tied with Troy Aikman for fourth on the all-time list and within striking distance of Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.
It’s certainly a tempting thought for him and a Chiefs franchise that hadn’t won a Super Bowl in half a century until he arrived. And, for everyone else, a grim prospect.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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