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The Patrick Mahomes Megadeal Is Unprecedented in NFL History

The 24-year-old reigning Super Bowl MVP has reportedly agreed to a 10-year contract extension worth up to $503 million with the Chiefs. It could keep him in Kansas City through at least 2031.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Patrick Mahomes’s agent is Leigh Steinberg, the inspiration for the movie Jerry Maguire. On Monday, Steinberg showed Patrick Mahomes the money. Mahomes has signed a 10-year contract extension worth a maximum of $503 million including incentives, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It’s the largest contract in the history of North American sports and almost double the career earnings of Eli Manning, the highest-paid player by salary in league history. Mahomes is slated to be a free agent again in 2032, when the land is expected to be overtaken by the sea.

A 12-year football contract is rare. For context, Dallas left tackle Tyron Smith is the only other player in the NFL with a contract lasting longer than six years—an eight-year deal he signed before the 2014 season. Mahomes is under contract five years longer than any other current player. In the past two decades, just a handful of NFL players have gotten a deal for 10-plus years:

  • Brett Favre with Green Bay in 2001
  • Drew Bledsoe with New England in 2001
  • Donovan McNabb with Philadelphia in 2002
  • Daunte Culpepper with Minnesota in 2003
  • Michael Vick with Atlanta in 2004

Notably, all of those deals ended prematurely for various reasons. But Mahomes may be a better bet than any of those players were at the time (even Brett Favre thinks this). Mahomes is one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to toss 50 touchdowns in a season, along with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. But whereas Manning and Brady did that in their 30s, Mahomes did it in his first full season as a starter in 2018, when he also won the MVP award (Kansas City’s franchise valuation went up $200 million after the 2018 season, according to Forbes). In Mahomes’s second season starting, he led the Chiefs to a Lombardi Trophy win, earned Super Bowl MVP honors, and orchestrated one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history, against the Houston Texans. In just a couple of years, Mahomes has broken NFL records, starred on the cover of Madden, and won a Super Bowl. Statistically and stylistically, Mahomes’s first two seasons have been a hybrid of Manning, Dan Marino, and Brett Favre, but with more success than any of them had when they were 24.

All of that is why Mahomes was expected to get an unprecedented contract. A 12-year pact for almost a half-billion dollars puts Mahomes out of the realm of football contracts and into the realm of baseball, where Mike Trout signed a 12-year contract extension for $430 million last year, and Bryce Harper signed a 13-year deal for $330 million. At a time when it’s difficult to see just a few weeks into the future, it is jarring to see someone lock themselves into any job for the next 12 years. But now Mahomes is cemented as the face of Kansas City sports for the foreseeable future, and the deal includes a no-trade clause.

It’s important to note that NFL contracts are not guaranteed, which means the amount of years on a deal is just a suggestion. From 2011 to 2015, free agents who signed a five-year contract had a higher chance of lasting one year on the deal than lasting all five seasons. On almost any veteran NFL contract, the fourth year and beyond are team options, regardless of how long the contract purports to last. Teams often add dummy years to the ends of contracts that inflate the total value (which make the agent and player happier) or use the extra years as an accounting trick to lower the team’s salary-cap figure. Mahomes has an injury guarantee for $140 million, and his signing bonus is just $10 million, but he has large roster bonuses that will pay out each year across the deal with many conditional guarantees, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. He may technically be signed for 12 years, but until we learn the guaranteed money and contract structure, there is a chance he will negotiate his next deal a lot sooner than 2031.

League economics aside, Mahomes, the best football player on the planet, is going to be in Kansas City for a long time. Kansas City is the rare Super Bowl contender returning its head coach, all three coordinators, and 22 of 23 assistant coaches. If the Chiefs resolve the contract situation with star defensive tackle Chris Jones, they will also retain all 22 of their starters. But even better than their odds of a repeat this season is the knowledge that Mahomes will be there for years to come.

“What we’ve said, both sides, is he wants to be a Kansas City Chief for life, and that’s our mentality as well,” Chiefs majority owner Clark Hunt said in May. “We want him to play his entire career in Kansas City, and that’s what we’re going to be shooting for.”

This piece was updated Monday afternoon with additional details.