Just over one year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs signed their quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a contract extension that would pay him roughly half a billion dollars, while keeping him with the team through the 2031 season.
We have signed QB Patrick Mahomes to a 10 year extension. Mahomes secured with Chiefs for the next 12 seasons. pic.twitter.com/ZsADdVkvxZ— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 6, 2020
Mahomes’ unprecedented contract shocked many observers who didn’t understand the unique way in which it is structured. Even a year later, it’s not uncommon for fans of other teams to demonstrate their continued ignorance about its specifics, claiming that Mahomes’ deal will prevent the Chiefs from signing the other players they will need to keep the team relevant during his tenure.
In fact, the structure of the deal — combined with similar features in the new contracts signed last summer by tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones — is the reason Chiefs general manager Brett Veach could create $36.7 million of cap space with the stroke of a pen. That’s how he was able to completely rebuild the Kansas City offensive line during an offseason with a historically low salary cap.
But I didn’t bring it up to (once again) rave about the Mahomes contract. It is, however, part of what has caused a calm reassurance that has taken hold among Chiefs fans during the past year.
To be sure, much of it comes from their team appearing in three consecutive AFC Championships, back-to-back Super Bowls and winning its first championship in five decades. Mahomes’ contract simply confirmed what we almost knew for a fact: that he is going to be with the team for a very long time — and as long as he remains, his presence will elevate it.
Still... the inner calm we feel isn’t just about our quarterback’s contract — or the success he has achieved in such a short time. It’s not just that he’s an exceptional player. He’s an exceptional human, too.
Try to think of just one time Mahomes has put a foot wrong — where he’s said or done something he shouldn’t have. He routinely demonstrates what an NFL quarterback should do — an example that too few of his peers follow.
Can you even imagine an interview where he would say he didn’t know if he’d be playing for his team in the coming year — even though he’s under contract to do so? Based on what you’ve seen, do you think Mahomes would even consider getting into a public feud with one of his teammates? Do you think it’s possible that one morning, we’ll wake up to headlines that he was arrested after a drunken altercation in a bar?
No... me, either.
Maybe it was just blind luck that brought this young man to the Chiefs. Or maybe the football gods decided that after so many years of angst about their team’s most important player, Chiefs fans were finally entitled to some measure of peace.
But peace is exactly what they have.
Imagine how a 31-9 Super Bowl loss would have felt with any other quarterback under center. It wasn’t very many years ago that Kansas City fans would have demanded that multiple heads should roll. But since February, the reaction has been more like, “Ehhh. We’ll get ‘em next year.”
If history has taught us anything, it’s that the coming years won’t be perfect. There will be years when Mahomes is hurt — or doesn't play up to his usual standard. Supporting casts and coaches will change. But we’re finally at a place where we can say, “Ehhh. We’ll get ‘em next year.” And mean it.
We’re now living through an era of Chiefs football that may be the standard by which all others will eventually be judged. A year ago, we learned it would last for a very long time. Let’s be sure to enjoy every moment of it.