Patrick Mahomes’ contract negotiations with the Kansas City Chiefs were the biggest story almost no one had any insight into. The tightly-kept secret of his half a billion-dollar, record-busting decade-long offer didn’t slip until the final hours. But it turns out one famous figure, nominally outside the negotiations, knew the dealings the entire time.
It was none other than the other big quarterback with due for a new contract: the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson. It turns out, the two newest faces of the NFL are friends. And they were looking out for each other, even though they’ll meet as opponents on the gridiron. Here’s how it all went down.
Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson worked together behind the scenes
As USA Today reported at the time, Mahomes’ massive extension set a new precedent. This was a baseball-esque deal, a huge vote of confidence of the sort rarely seen in the NFL. To get to that point, with $503 million on the line, both parties needed to be happy.
It required a complex series of limits and incentives to get the Chiefs on board. And it needed, above all, to be fair compensation for a young QB who already proved he can win the biggest game of the year.
According to ESPN, Mahomes didn’t want to break new ground in the NFL by himself. He kept in touch with Watson throughout the process. He gave him basic updates via texts as each new incentive was slotted into the contract. And, unbelievably, he sent Watson details of the updated contract as negotiations went on. This tied the pair’s fates together in a way no one else knew was going on behind the scenes.
Watson didn’t have the same negotiating position as the current Super Bowl-winning quarterback does. Instead, he came to the table armed with his own generational-level talents, and the knowledge of Mahomes’ own negotiations.
That’s how he hammered out an extremely player-friendly four-year, $160 million extension with the Texans. With $111 million in guarantees, he’ll be the highest-paid player in the NFL for each of those four years.
Becoming friends as members of the 2017 draft class
After both young QBs finished their negotiations, they celebrated with some sense of relief. “[Mahomes] hit me up and congratulated me,” Watson told ESPN. “Now it’s time to go out there and compete — that’s the beauty of brotherhood.”
The two became close due to the rare experience they both shared, as prized picks in the 2017 NFL draft. The two went beyond the usual pleasantries and ended up communicating regularly as they handled the transition to national attention.
By 2018, the two referred to each other as friends in post-game interviews. It makes sense. Only a few people on earth know exactly what it means to be a young heavily-hyped QB in the NFL — why not befriend one another?
Do Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson live up to the hype?
Who better to start the 2020 NFL season than Mahomes and Watson? Their Texans and Chiefs were wisely slotted to open up the season. The ensuing game went beyond expectations, with worries about the lack of a preseason swept away quickly. The Texans scored first, but Mahomes’ Chiefs ultimately came out on top.
Watson held his own, clearly earning his pay with his 253 passing yards. But Mahomes’ 3 touchdowns and 211 passing yards were too much to overcome, in part because of a stronger supporting cast around him.
Watson tried to pull a rabbit out of his hat with 27 yards and a late touchdown as a rusher, but couldn’t overcome a Mahomes who hadn’t skipped a beat since Super Bowl Sunday. The Texas haven’t quite built a Super Bowl ready team, but Watson is ready to take on the task whenever that happens.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference