The #Chiefs have exercised the fifth-year option for star QB Patrick Mahomes, source said. Now under contract through 2021... and the team hopes for much longer. The biggest no-brainer imaginable.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2020
The report is now being confirmed by multiple sources, including friend-of-the-site Terez Paylor of Yahoo! Sports and Kansas City Star Chiefs beat reporter Herbie Teope.
As you read in Thursday morning’s edition of Arrowheadlines, on Wednesday evening, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported it was likely this was about to happen.
And now it has. Mahomes is now tied to the team through the 2021 season.
As a player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, Mahomes’ contract came with a team option to extend his deal for an extra season beyond the standard four-year rookie deal. Per Spotrac, Mahomes will earn the league-specified base salary of $25 million in 2021.
While Rapoport called this “the biggest no-brainer imaginable,” that’s only true because of the specific circumstances in which the Chiefs find themselves. Normally, a team with a quarterback who had been named the NFL MVP in his first season as a starter — and Super Bowl MVP in his second — would move mountains to sign them to a long-term deal at the first possible moment: at the end of the quarterback’s third season. With the historical inflation of NFL salaries, it saves a team money to lock up such a valuable player as soon as possible.
But in the specific situation in which the Chiefs find themselves — with minimal salary-cap space (by our estimate, no more than 3.3 million) and another big long-term contract for defensive tackle Chris Jones under negotiation — the team needed two things: more time to make a deal with Mahomes and some additional leverage in the Jones negotiation.
Exercising Mahomes’ fifth-year option does both of those things.
Although a new long-term deal for the star quarterback will almost certainly be negotiated within the next year, in the worst-case scenario, the team’s final deadline is now the beginning of the 2022 league year — and even then, they would still have the option of putting Mahomes on the franchise tag for the 2022 season.
But as they like to say in the halls of Congress, that would be the nuclear option.
This move also gives the Chiefs some additional leverage with Jones. Up to now, Jones’ camp knew that the Chiefs need the cap space a new contract would give them for the coming year — perhaps as much as $10 million. The Chiefs still need that space, but now the additional pressure to sign Mahomes is gone.
In essence, the Chiefs are giving Jones and his agents two messages: one, that the team’s main focus is now an extension of his contract — and two, that the Chiefs are now fully prepared to function without the cap space a new Jones agreement would give them.
While the two sides have until July 15 to make a deal, this move suggests that the Jones negotiation is heating up — and might finally be on the road to a successful conclusion.