FanPost

Will Patrick Mahomes defy history and win the Super Bowl?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -- JD

The NFL's team salary cap is God's greatest gift to small-market American cities. Teams like Kansas City, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Tampa Bay can compete and win the Super Bowl. This leaves general managers staying up at night, wondering, "How much can we afford to pay our great quarterback and still have enough for the rest of the team to win the Super Bowl?"

If you look back to the inception of the salary cap era in 1994, the answer is very clear. No team has won a championship while paying more than 13.1% of its salary cap to its quarterback. In fact, over that 28-year period, the average cap hit for a winning Super Bowl quarterback is only 7.1%.

Year QB Cap%
1994 Young 13.1
1995 Aikman 6.7
1996 Favre 10.2
1997 Elway 5.2
1998 Elway 5.0
1999 Warner 1.3
2000 Dilfer 1.6
2001 Brady 0.5
2002 Johnson 9.6
2003 Brady 4.4
2004 Brady 6.3
2005 Roethlisberger 4.9
2006 P. Manning 10.4
2007 E. Manning 9.2
2008 Roethlisberger 6.8
2009 Brees 8.3
2011 E. Manning 11.7
2012 Flacco 6.6
2013 Wilson 0.5
2014 Brady 10.6
2015 P. Manning 11.7
2016 Brady 8.6
2017 Foles 0.9
2018 Brady 12.2
2019 Mahomes 2.4
2020 Brady 12.3
2021 Stafford 10.7
Avg - 7.1

Note: 2010 was an uncapped year.

Some notes

  • Tom Brady's cap hit averaged 7.8% during his seven Super Bowl wins without exceeding the 13.1% threshold. The one year he exceeded the threshold, he didn't win the championship. He's considered the GOAT -- in part -- because he ironically supported his own great defenses.
  • Peyton Manning should be re-named Pay-a-Ton. He exceeded 13.1% eight times and didn't win it once during those years. The two seasons he won it all? You guessed it: he was below the 13.1% threshold.
  • Many great quarterbacks's won it early in their careers -- usually under their rookie contracts. Then they signed for big money -- only to never see the confetti drop again. Think of Russell Wilson winning at 0.6% in his second year. Drew Brees was at 8.3% in his third year with the New Orleans Saints. Brett Favre and Aaron Rogers both won it once with the Green Bay Packers. But after going over the threshold, neither raised the Lombardi again.

So where is Patrick Mahomes in 2022?

The Chiefs' superstar quarterback signed his rookie contract in 2017. His cap hit ranged from 1.8% through 3.9% in 2021. His cap hit was just 2.4% when he won the Super Bowl in 2019. He has since signed a 10-year contract has a cap hit of $35.8 million (17.2%) in 2022.

So we are now in the second Mahomes era. In the first, he gave Kansas City an incredible advantage by playing at least 10 points below his free-market value. At today's team cap, that's over $20 million per year. In a game of inches, that's a lot.

Quarterbacks like the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen and the Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert now hold that advantage. Allen particularly strikes fear in me. He will be paid 7.9% of cap in 2022 -- which compared to Mahomes, is a 10% advantage. Oddsmakers are aware of this. That's why the Bills are favored to win it all this season. With quarterback Tom Brady being paid 5.8% of the cap, it is not a coincidence that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the oddsmakers' second favorite to win the championship. In their estimation, the Chiefs are third.

The left tackle position

A team's left tackle is really an extension of the quarterback. No one needs a reminder of Mahomes running for is life in Super Bowl LV with injuries to Eric Fisher and the rest of the starting offensive line. In hindsight, we should have a special celebration for Fisher, honoring him for playing at his prime at 3.7% of the cap. In 2019, Mahomes and Fisher combined for just 6.1%.

In contrast, current left tackle Orlando Brown is playing on the franchise tag, which accounts of 8% of the team's cap. This means that he Mahomes are using 25.2% of the team's cap space in 2022. Is it feasible for a 53-member team to be successful when two players receive one-fourth of the team's total pay?

So Kansas City general manager Brett Veach was right to stand his ground with Brown. But next year -- when Mahome's cap hit will be over 21% -- the left tackle's cap hit will have to come back to Earth. My guess is that Brown will not be re-signed and the Chiefs will receive a compensatory draft pick. Veach will roll the dice, drafting two tackles in the lower rounds -- or will slide left guard Joe Thuney outside. Mahomes does not require (and the team cannot afford) a high-priced left tackle. All the Chiefs need is a very good young player who comes at minimum cost.

The tactics to win

My hope is that the brilliant moves Veach has made this offseason will still allow the Chiefs to win Super Bowl LVII.

  • Giving up Tyreek Hill for one year in exchange for the economic advantage of five draft choices over 2022 and 2023. That could be 20-plus years' worth of rookie contracts.
  • Releasing veterans like Tyrann Mathieu, Charvarius Ward, Anthony Hitchens, Ben Niemann, Daniel Sorensen and Demarcus Robinson, replacing them with athletic, youthful players -- especially on the defensive side of the ball. Even though he denies it, coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has favored veterans -- and now seems to be enjoying this youth movement.
  • Managing the dead cap hits. Currently, the Chiefs have the seventh-lowest dead cap hit at $10.8 million. Still, I am scratching my head at the signing of linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. in March and then releasing him, adding $1.8 million in dead money. But as I often tell my wife, I can't be perfect all the time.
  • Chris Jones is a special case. Who knew that the Chiefs have two of the league's six most expensive players? Mahomes and Jones ($29 Million at 14.1%) combine for over 31% of the cap. Next season, the Chiefs face a hard decision on Jones.
  • Not re-signing high-priced veterans -- except for the ones (like tight end Travis Kelce) who want to be here to win Super Bowls. Would you take Kelce this year at his $11.9 Million -- or almost 2.5 times that amount for Jones?

As always, I will continue to root for the Chiefs to win it all. Everyone appreciates how Mahomes conducts himself -- both on and off the field -- and his very significant contributions to his charities. But I do hope that Mahomes asks himself what he wants his legacy to be. Does he want to be remembered like Manning (making more money with two rings) or like Brady (less money and seven rings)?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.