Whether it was a gorgeous spotted trout you hooked during a fishing trip — or your high-school sweetheart who went off to college and fell in love with a guy named Thad — most of us have a story about the one that got away.
And you let it slip away.
So you’re forced to go through life with a pain deep in your gut. There is no consolation prize. Instead, there is only an unrelenting longing for what could have been.
This is how I imagine every NFL general manager who did not draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017 feels each morning when they get out of bed and look at the mirror.
Luckily for Kansas City Chiefs fans, we don’t have to worry about any of this. We drafted the love of our lives.
Back in 2018, the late, great Terez Paylor wrote about the Chiefs' covert operations (and their courting of Mahomes) during the months leading up to the draft.
Cabott and Steinberg were careful to never reveal the Chiefs’ intense interest in Mahomes, lest they screw up the chance for their player to land in what they deemed an ideal situation, with a quarterback guru in Reid, stable ownership in the Hunt family and a plethora of offensive skill players.
“They seemed pretty laser-focused on Patrick,” Steinberg said. “We were more than happy to encourage their interest, and we kept their confidence and never said a word publicly about it because had we said anything, it would have put them in a compromised position to make a trade. If other teams knew they really, really wanted Patrick, they would make a trade difficult.”
So Cabott and Steinberg kept their secret...”
But enough about our happiness. Let’s get salty — and laugh at some teams who missed out on drafting the world’s best player.
1. The Seahawks wanted to let Pat cook
Here’s an interesting nugget that came to light in a recent ESPN article by Brady Henderson. Apparently — while Russell Wilson was still in the fold — Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider was unfaithful to his quarterback when he made lots of googly eyes at Mahomes during his pro day.
IN THE SPRING of 2017, Seahawks general manager John Schneider was a conspicuous attendant at Patrick Mahomes’ pro day. The GM had become so enamored with the Texas Tech quarterback that Seattle would have taken him had he been available late in the first round, multiple team sources said. The massive gamble on an unproven quarterback would have carried an obvious benefit: flexibility to build the roster around a cheap rookie contract the way Seattle had done during Wilson’s first three seasons when the Seahawks won one Super Bowl and nearly a second.
Had the Seahawks landed Mahomes, it’s safe to say they would have moved on from DangerRuss sooner rather than later, avoiding the upcoming purgatory that will be their 2022 season. Sorry... not sorry, Seahawks fans. Enjoy the rainy days with Geno Smith as your quarterback.
2. The Chiefs duped the Cardinals
Bruce Arians revealed earlier this month that he also set his wandering eye upon the pride of Tyler, Texas while he was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
But then-personnel man Brett Veach and GM John Dorsey were playing chess for the Chiefs while other personnel departments were sitting around with a stick in their hands. You don’t just wait for the greatest quarterback of all time to fall to you.
Appearing on Pardon My Take Wednesday, Arians said that the Cardinals were targeting Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft and believed he would fall to them — until the Chiefs surprised them and took the quarterback.
“As that draft was falling I was like, ‘He’s ours.’ It’s either him or Deshaun. But Pat, he was right there — Kansas City doesn’t need a quarterback. They take him and I was like, ‘What?’ They had Alex Smith... just went to a Pro Bowl. We loved him”
For the coach who is famous for saying, “No risk it, no biscuit,” Mahomes seems he wold have been the prototypical quarterback; he is everything that Jameis Winston wishes he was. So now — rather than years of glory — Cardinals fans are stuck with a guy who needs to be bribed to study his playbook.
3. Mahomes was nearly a G-Man
Sitting at number 23 in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Giants were looking for an heir to the Eli Manning dynasty. Aside from looking like a 14-year-old boy who is dressing up as a 1999 version of himself for Halloween, Ben McAdoo was also head-over-heels in love with Mahomes.
Per ESPN New York’s Anita Marks, the Giants tried to trade up to select Mahomes because head coach Ben McAdoo “loves” him and was “very upset” they weren’t able to land him.
The Giants had the 23rd pick in the first round and wound up selecting Mississippi tight end Evan Engram to boost their passing game.
Woof! Can you imagine thinking that you are going to draft Mahomes — but instead, you end up with Evan Engram? Talk about being catfished! That’s like thinking you’re going on a date with a Hemsworth brother — and instead, you get me. (At least I don't dress like a 14-year-old boy on Halloween).
To make matters worse, the quarterback of the future they finally drafted to take Manning’s place was Daniel Jones. That’s not a quarterback’s name! Daniel Jones is a mid-level manager at a nondescript corporate office somewhere in Ohio.
4. Mahomes almost laissez le bon temps rouler in the Big Easy
Like his brother-from-another-mother Ben McAdoo, former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Peyton yearned to draft Mahomes to take over for his own old man quarterback. The Saints were coming off three straight 7-9 seasons and were looking to make a move that would get the franchise back on the right track.
Mahomes was the Saints’ expected target heading into the first night of the draft in 2017 — partly because they never envisioned a scenario where Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore would fall to them at No. 11.
If Lattimore had gone 10th, the Saints would have pounced on Mahomes. If both had been available, it would have made for a fascinating last-minute debate in their war room.
“[Chiefs coach] Andy [Reid] decided for us,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
Like almost every other team on this list, the Saints continued to ride their aging quarterback well past his prime — until the wheels fell off and Drew Brees peaced out, leaving a dumpster fire for his successor to try to extinguish.
5. It was almost Big Pat in Pittsburgh
Of all the teams on this list, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the ones that I hate to see the least — mostly because of my immense respect for head coach Mike Tomlin.
I mean, just look at how cool he is! He is basically the anti-Ben McAdoo.
When he was asked about Mahomes back in 2018, Tomlin practically gushed over our boy.
“He’s a sharp guy,” Tomlin said of Mahomes on Tuesday. “Interviewed him through the draft process when he came out. He’s got really unique arm talent. He can make any throw on the field. He can throw from a variety of positions. He can throw stationary, he can throw on the move. He’s got an awesome reprotior of physical talent. He’s a sharp kid, he just is. He’s mature beyond his years. In conversing with him, I think it’s reflected in the amount of things that they were able to do last week in Week 1. The changes in personnel, the obscure things, the designed quarterback runs, the gadget plays. He managed it all and managed it all very well and managed it all in a road game environment.”
One has to wonder: if the Steelers had landed Mahomes, would JuJu Smith-Schuster leave to play in Kansas City? If so, I doubt the Steelers would have drafted George Pickens this year. But indulge me for a moment: just imagine an offense with Mahomes, Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Pickens and Chase Claypool would look like.
It would almost be as good as what the Chiefs have right now.
In retrospect, it’s easy for GMs to say, “Oh, yeah. Mahomes was our guy all along.” After the fact, there is zero risk in saying that you would have selected a future Hall of Fame player.
But the only place Mahomes was ever going to land was Kansas City. I 100% believe that if the Chiefs needed to trade up to the first overall pick to land him, they would have.
Why? Because going into draft night, Dorsey had a Post-it note in his pocket.