After leading the Kansas City Chiefs to victory in this year’s Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes has been rewarded with the biggest contract in NFL history.
His agents say the 10-year extension to the end of the 2031 season is worth up to $503m (£403m), making him the “first half-billion dollar player in sports history”. But why have the Chiefs given Mahomes such a big contract?
The 24-year-old quarterback won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2018 season – his first as a starter – before being named the Super Bowl MVP in his second.
Here, former NFL cornerback and BBC pundit Jason Bell explains why Mahomes is such a special talent and analyses what this deal means for the Chiefs.
Were you surprised by the deal?
It’s supply and demand in its simplest form. There’s not many people on the planet that can do what he can, that has that kind of skill set. Not only are there not many but he’s the best of the few so he’s going to be paid according to that.
The quarterback position is the number one position on the field in football, they’re the highest-paid players and he’s the best so he sets the market. We knew he’d be the highest-paid quarterback in the history of the sport and it was going to be over $200m, because of his age and his performance.
He’s the best quarterback in the NFL right now, he’s fresh off of winning a Super Bowl, and he’s got time on his side because he’s young, so he deserves every bit of this contract.
Is Mahomes worth the money?
The talking heads like me might talk about team building and how this money changes other decisions and the players they can bring in. When you think about that [the salary cap], there’s an argument to that.
But everybody’s chasing a franchise quarterback, every team wants a Patrick Mahomes. That is the thing that makes them elite, so when you have him, you can’t let him out of the building.
It gives Kansas City the opportunity to be a successful dynasty and get more Super Bowls underneath their banner while he’s under the helm at the quarterback position.
What makes him such a special talent?
There’s a few things – he’s got God-given arm talent like something I’ve never seen before; his ability to throw the ball from all different platforms, all different angles, and a little bit of that is his baseball background.
He also has great movement, especially in the pocket, where he can create plays off second plays that go for long touchdowns. We saw that happen in the Super Bowl. Plus his ability to recognise what the defence is doing to him and the way he can break down defences has gotten better.
With [head coach] Andy Reid, one of the best offensive coaches in football history, together they are finding a way, using his talent, to just dissect defences and he’s only going to get better at that the more he sees, being so young.
Can you think of anyone that’s had a similar impact so soon?
It’s hard to get a comparison to him. I think when Aaron Rodgers came on the scene and started to play after sitting behind Brett Favre, you knew that he had a crazy upside in potential, and it’s the same with Patrick Mahomes.
During that year Mahomes was sitting behind Alex Smith , there were whispers throughout the Kansas City organisation about the talent they were seeing with him in practice. But I don’t think anybody thought it would be like this, and he’d take over the league the way he has.
Could this be the start of a dynasty for Kansas City?
Without a doubt. As long as he’s on the field, they have a chance to win a lot of football games. They’ve tasted glory, they’ve won the Super Bowl and know what it takes. And their quarterback understands what it takes for the team to get there – the sacrifice, the discipline.
He’s your leader that can rally the team together to go out there and have success year in and year out, the same way Tom Brady has done for the New England Patriots. You need that position to be steadfast and understand what it takes to win.
After a disrupted off-season, can the Chiefs go back-to-back?
I’d back them to be in the Super Bowl. That game, I can never predict, because it’s all about match-ups [on the day]. The AFC Conference is tough. With Mahomes and Lamar Jackson [Baltimore Ravens, 2019 NFL MVP], everybody wants to see these guys continue to go at it to get to the Super Bowl.
How does it feel that black quarterbacks are now the stars of the league?
For me, it’s not about colour. It’s always been about who’s the best. In the lower levels, when I was growing up, there were always plenty of black quarterbacks. It’s just, as you got to college and the pros, it started to change.
But you’ve seen a shift happen where they’re no longer trying to take players that play quarterback and put them in other positions. They play quarterback because they’re the best, and what you see now are the best players whatever nationality they are, whatever ethnicity they are – if they’re the best they need to be the starter and be on the field. It’s a meritocracy, it’s all about your ability to go out there and execute on game day.