It seems as if Patrick Mahomes is currently a forgotten man as the 2019-2020 NFL playoffs get underway. History has shown he's more than capable of reminding you he's in the mix so there's no need to panic just yet. However, much of the talking points thus far have been about Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, the early exits of Brees and Brady, upstarts Garoppolo and Tannehill and the grizzled veterans Wilson and Rodgers. It's amazing that a player of Mahomes' caliber is kind of lost in the shuffle leading up to the divisional playoff games this weekend. The reason is most likely due to the fact that he experienced a bit of a sophomore slump and battled injury after his breakout rookie season, but forgetting what this electrifying quarterback is capable of would be a grave mistake.
MVP Rookie Year
Imagine setting eight NFL records in your first season as a quarterback and then topping it off with two more into your second year. Imagine being the first ever Kansas City Chief to win NFL MVP and to do so in your first NFL season. You can also add first team All Pro, the ESPY award for the best NFL player and ranked the 4th best player in the NFL by you peers. Again, this is in your first full season as a quarterback. Patrick Mahomes was absolutely brilliant during the 2018 NFL regular season. He threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns. He added 272 yards on the ground and 2 rushing touchdowns as well. In recent history there hasn't been more of a buzz around anyone in the NFL.... well.... until 2019, enter Lamar Jackson.
Statistically Mahomes' numbers are down quite a bit from his crazy 2018 season. If you ask the Chiefs' quarterback what he thinks, he says he's better... 10o% better, "I feel that I’m [an improved quarterback], 100 percent,” he says. “I mean, obviously the stats aren’t the same. I don’t have 50 touchdowns, 5,000 yards, or whatever it was. But as far as positive plays vs. negative plays, I’ve done a lot more, just being higher on positive plays and not putting myself in negative situations.” It's an interesting assessment because without question Mahomes' turnover rate is down and it's also intriguing to see how he evolves and continues to mature as an NFL quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs selected Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft after he impressed at the combine and his pro day at Texas Tech. He signed a 4-year, $16.4 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus and all $16.4 million guaranteed. Over the course of the 4 years on his contract he will average $4.1 million annually. Those numbers make him the 36th highest paid quarterback in the league during the 2019 season. For those of you keeping score at home there are 32 teams in the NFL, which means there are a few back-up QBs getting paid more than #15. He's in a similar boat to that of Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson, who are taking the NFL by storm while playing on rookie contracts that are tiny compared to some of the established veterans in the NFL.
The NFL contract dynamic continues to spiral out of control. The NFL is the highest-grossing sport in America by a long shot raking in $13 billion per year. That number is over $3 billion more than Major League Baseball. It makes it hard to argue against the salaries of top players in the NFL when the league is generating more and more money every year. Speaking of which, there are 6 quarterbacks at present that are making over $30 million annually with Russell Wilson being the highest paid at $35 million per year. Among all six of those QBs one could argue that not only is Mahomes better, he's more marketable. This puts us on a crazy trajectory that will undoubtedly see him secure the highest annual salary in the NFL before Lamar Jackson is due to get paid again. The biggest question is where that number lands. It's easy to think Mahomes' next contract could set him up at $40 million per year. What's even more interesting is if he signs a 4-year deal, he'll be due for another contract at the age of 29, which some would consider to be his absolute prime. Do the math - NFL revenues are booming, salaries are increasing, his next contract will put him at $40 million per year - it's not inconceivable to think that because he'll be due before Lamar Jackson that he's the first $50 million per year player in NFL history. Let's just put the asterisk up now - Patrick Mahomes has to stay healthy and productive for this to happen. In our simple, linear math it's easy to think this number can be hit in five years.
The Future For Patrick Mahomes
As the Chiefs gear up to host the Texans this weekend in the divisional round of the playoffs all eyes will be on Deshaun Watson, who carried his team to victory at home vs. the Buffalo Bills last weekend. Well, maybe not all eyes as we're sure there will be a few in Kansas City fixated on #15. The Chiefs are a different team from last year. Their defense is better and Mahomes is more interested in leading his team to victory by any means rather than throwing lefty passes. They are not favored to win the Super Bowl by any stretch this season, but if they somehow pull it off you can almost guarantee this $50 million prediction comes to fruition. But here's the beauty of it - the Chiefs look like they're going to have plenty more chances to get their hands on the Lombardi trophy before Mahomes is due for his third contract. Only time will tell if he's the NFL's first $50 million man.