Last night, the Kansas City Chiefs signed star quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a massive 10-year, $503 million contract. Mahomes is widely considered the best young quarterback in the game, but these deals historically don’t work for the team. However, taking a look at each of the previous contracts shows that Mahomes is in a unique situation to succeed throughout the course of his contract.
How the Patrick Mahomes Contract Differs From Past 10-Year Deals
Future Contract vs Lifetime Achievement
As discussed in an earlier article, five quarterbacks received a 10-year extension from 2001 to 2004: Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper, and Michael Vick. The only ones that might have actually justified this contract are Favre and McNabb, although neither played to the end of their deals.
However, digging a little deeper shows that the majority of these quarterbacks got these deals as lifetime achievement awards. Drew Bledsoe was the first overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft and brought the Patriots to a Super Bowl in 1996. He signed his 10-year extension in 2001 despite suffering a notable dip in play beginning in 1998. Just one year after signing his massive deal, the team traded Bledsoe to the Buffalo Bills and moved forward with Tom Brady. Favre is somewhat similar, as he was four years removed from winning three consecutive MVP’s when he signed his massive deal.
Culpepper had four seasons of good-but-not-great play before the stars aligned in 2004. The Vikings clearly thought Culpepper could maintain that elite level of play, but he obviously couldn’t. Vick is a completely unfair assessment, as dogfighting charges sent him to prison after the 2006 season. McNabb, meanwhile, continued to be his slightly above-average self for the remainder of his time in Philadelphia.
Mahomes is clearly in a different category from all five quarterbacks mentioned above. He’s clearly superior to everyone except for Favre, and he has plenty of time to surpass Favre’s legend. Unlike Favre when he signed, Mahomes is only 24 and should have the best years of his career in front of him. He has multiple years of elite production and has the talent to remain great for years to come.
Quite frankly, trying to draw any massive conclusions in either direction based on a sample this small is lunacy. There’s simply too much variation on a player-to-player basis that one or two outliers would throw off the whole study.
Right now, the common narrative is that deals like this don’t work out for the team. However, would that narrative be different if the New England Patriots signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal in 2005? Or what about Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts? Or Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints?
Betting on a quarterback to remain great for 10 years is obviously a risky proposition, but the great ones proved that they are up for the task. Mahomes appears to be on the same path as Brady, Manning, and Brees, so keeping him in town for as long as possible can only be a good thing.
Additionally, all of the previous 10-year contracts happened almost two decades ago. Football has changed dramatically over that time, especially when it comes to hitting the quarterback. Nobody is completely safe from injury, but today’s rules actively discourage any unnecessary contact with the quarterback. Mahomes has much better odds of staying healthy in today’s NFL than he would have if he played in that era.
He’s Patrick Mahomes
Even if there was a reliable sample that said extending quarterbacks to 10-year deals was a bad idea, Patrick Mahomes could be the exception. Quite frankly, he’s the best young quarterback in the league and appears destined for superstardom.
As previously mentioned, Brett Favre was the only quarterback to sign a 10-year deal that came close to Mahomes’ level of play. Even then, Favre was past his prime when he signed his massive extension. Despite only starting for two seasons, Mahomes has already won league MVP and Super Bowl MVP to go along with countless passing accolades. He’s the face of the franchise and the Chiefs made the right decision to keep him in town for the foreseeable future.
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