Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year, $503 million contract extension got a lot of press for changing the landscape of NFL contracts forever. But the numbers can be deceptive. Yes, Mahomes is signing a contract worth far more than any NFL player (and most other athletes) in history, but there’s a catch. From agent fees to taxes, Mahomes’ contract is more complicated than it seems.
Patrick Mahomes’ $503 million contract details
To say Mahomes won’t come home with more money than most pro athletes could ever dream of would be a lie. Sports Illustrated helped break down how much he’s getting, how he’s getting it, and what could affect how he gets it. Citing a tweet by NFL analyst Tom Pelissero, Joshua Brisco points out that Mahomes got $63 million at signing and will have over $100 million by next March.
The extension keeps Mahomes contract for 2020 as is, but through roster bonuses and incentives, it gets bigger every year. His 2021 base salary will be less than a million dollars, but if he can stay on through 2031, his base salary will be a mind-blowing $38 million before any roster bonuses or incentives. These numbers could go up even further as the NFL’s salary cap rises year to year.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of Mahomes’ contract is that fluctuating value toward the salary cap. NFL quarterbacks already get paid very well, but if a player signs a deal that looks good in 2020, they could become a bargain in five years when worse quarterbacks are making far more money. Mahomes and his people helped put a safeguard on this by making his pay contingent on the salary cap.
However, to get the deal’s full extent, Mahomes has to play at his current level for over a decade. In the NFL, that can be brutal.
How much will Mahomes get?
Some people believe the structure of the deal is friendly to Mahomes. Barring catastrophe, the quarterback should be able to play at a star level for the remainder of the contract. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell doesn’t see this as a problem. Noting that Mahomes could get injured mid-contract, say 2027, Barnwell notes that if it happened in 2027, he’d still be owed a lot of money.
“[In 2027] He is due $44.5 million between his base salary, roster bonus and workout bonus in 2028, which guarantees before the 2027 season begins. If the Chiefs wanted to cut him, they would still owe him all of that $44.5 million for 2028, even though he wasn’t on the roster. While $44.5 million won’t seem like an exorbitant amount of dead money by 2028, having that sort of protection gives him leverage as he ages throughout this contract.”
Dan Gartland of Sports Illustrated disagrees, however. While Barnwall’s prediction is predicated on the quarterback remaining healthy and the Chiefs rewarding him for doing so, loyalty and sports do not often mix. If the Chiefs see any form of regression, they will likely try to save every penny.
“If you know anything about NFL contracts and you’re not in the business of carrying the water for agents, you know that the chances of Mahomes seeing that full $503 million are miniscule,” writes Gartland. “As with any NFL contract, there are ways for the Chiefs to get out of it if Mahomes underperforms on the back end.”
An unseen forecast
The fact of the matter is that a decade is longer than the vast majority of NFL careers. Taking away the taxes, agent fees, and other expenses that come with being a multimillionaire athlete, Mahomes’ contract might be less than meets the eye, reports NBC Sports.
It’s easy for fans to get caught up in the overall numbers, especially when it comes to complicated NFL contracts, but there’s a world where Mahomes could make a substantial amount while not reaching the threshold that his extension entails.
Hopefully, the young superstar can play through the contract as a member of the Chiefs, but with so much uncertainty, fans need to realize what his contract actually entails.