On Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a new 12-year contract that will pay him as much as $503 million.
Here are five things we learned from the deal:
1. The Chiefs run a tight ship
We have noticed this before, but the lack of advance reporting on the contract extension for the team’s franchise player made it crystal clear: if the Chiefs don’t want reporters to know what’s going on, reporters will know nothing.
We now know that Mahomes and the team reached an agreement in principle on Saturday — and by Monday afternoon, not a single one of the league’s vaunted “insiders” had reported that the signing was imminent.
Even more interesting is that none of them appeared to know that the deal would be structured like no other — with a paltry signing bonus, an extra-long term and no tie to the salary cap. Even in the three hours between the contract announcement and the release of the its details, one national expert after another took to Twitter to explain the deal would have to include a tie to the cap. Even in a moment where many dozens of reporters were speed-dialing their contacts at One Arrowhead Drive, they were getting bupkis from the organization.
All of this speaks volumes about how well the Chiefs are able to keep a secret — that is, when they want to. That brings us to a corollary thought — one that that we would do well to remember: if information leaks from the Chiefs, it’s because the team wants it to leak.
Of course, the team forgot to apply their usual security standards to the employee they sent to the liquor store for the champagne — and that’s OK. If it’s time to buy the bubbly, a small leak is perfectly acceptable — as long as it isn’t around the cork.
2. Brett Veach has no fear
I don’t know how many times I’ve said it over the years. Yes... an NFL general manager has to be skilled at evaluating talent, but also have the ability to listen to (and trust) their scouts. They must have business skills, too — that is, the ability to not only understand contracts, but find ways to make them work to their advantage.
But their main job is simply this: Be Right.
If you pick the wrong player in the draft — or make a bad free-agent deal — the error can reverberate with the franchise for years. By the same token, making the correct decisions in those moments can pave the way to championships.
To be sure, no GM will ever make the right call every time; there are just too many unknowns in each decision. But to be successful, you must be right significantly more often than you’re wrong. Some of those decisions — especially on draft day — must be made in minutes. So the job also requires extraordinary self-confidence.
There can no longer any doubt that Veach has that to spare.
When faced with the contract that will very likely define his stewardship of the Chiefs, he chose to do it any a way that no one expected — and based on his remarks on Tuesday, it appears likely that this course was decided long ago. Right now, there’s no way to know if Mahomes’ contract will prove Veach to be a genius or a fool. But you can’t fault the man’s creativity, conviction and self-confidence.
3. The Chiefs trust their coaching staff
You’re probably aware that many people — most of them fans of other teams — are saying Mahomes’ contract might occupy so much salary-cap space that the team will be unable to surround him with enough talent to win more championships.
While I am always reluctant to put too much faith in a single data point to determine something as all-encompassing as winning a championship, it is true that the list of teams with enormously talented, highly-paid quarterbacks who have failed to win championships is quite long. And it’s also true that as soon as 2021, Mahomes’ cap hit will be large enough that it will be more difficult to have multiple star players on the roster.
As our Ron Kopp and Kent Swanson have already explained in these pages, that ultimately leads to getting more contributions from younger players who were signed as rookies — whether through the draft or otherwise. It will also require production from inexpensively-acquired veteran players like Stefen Wisniewski and Terrell Suggs in 2019 — or Mike Remmers and Taco Charlton in 2020.
While it’s true that Veach will play a large role in bringing these players to the team, it will be up to the coaching staff to get the most out of them — whether they’re paying in their first NFL season or their 10th. As noted, Veach won’t make the right call every time, but the coaching staff can do a lot to overcome whatever mistakes he might make.
Simply put, the quality of the team’s coaches is one of the biggest factors that made it possible for the Chiefs to make this deal.
4. Andy Reid won’t be applying for Social Security soon
After winning the first Super Bowl in his long, distinguished career — something that most agree will ensure his eventual enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — it wouldn’t have been that surprising if Reid decided to walk away. But even the morning after that victory, Reid talked like a man who wasn’t going anywhere. Speaking to the press after his quarterback had signed this deal, the substance — but maybe more importantly, the tone — of Reid’s remarks made it clear that he has no plans to retire.
Just like two seasons ago — when he knew he was about to unleash an elite quarterback on a generally-unsuspecting NFL — Reid has a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye. This is the moment for which Reid has been preparing ever since he joined the NFL’s coaching ranks in 1992.
He’s going to ride this train for as long as his ticket allows.
5. Patrick Mahomes remains the NFL’s most mature star
After signing a deal like this one, most NFL stars would be doing a victory lap on social media — not to mention every club in town.
How many of them would talk about how the contract wil help them make the world a better place for his grandchildren? How many of them would see the contract as a way to help their community?
Not many. But Mahomes is one of them.
And just as he’s done through every moment of his NFL career, Mahomes has remained focused on the business at hand. He was back to work on Tuesday morning, preparing for what we all hope will be an opportunity for the Chiefs to run it back in 2020.
We like to say that having lots of money can change people. But it’s probably more accurate to say that sudden riches simply reveal a person’s true character. We’ve never had reason to doubt Mahomes’ character — and it’s wonderful to see that so far, the new deal hasn’t given us a reason to think we were wrong.