The news sent shockwaves throughout the sports universe as Patrick Mahomes - the reigning Super Bowl MVP and arguably the top player in the NFL – not only signed a contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs, but did so with a deal that keeps the All-Pro signal caller in red and gold for the next decade.
Mahomes, whose accolades and records have piled up at an unprecedented and borderline ridiculous rate, is officially the Chiefs' quarterback of the present, near and distant future.
"The support Chiefs Kingdom has shown me has been tremendous since the day I got drafted. The fact that they've been behind me and supported me has been truly special and it's a one-of a-kind-thing. I knew the moment I stepped on Arrowhead's field that this was the place I wanted to be for my entire career," Mahomes said. "I think I've reiterated that my entire career that I've been here and can't wait."
There is so much to take away from the extension, which represents perhaps the biggest news in franchise history, but here are three key things to keep in mind.
1. Mahomes wanted to be a Chief for life.
Legacy isn't something that's emphasized as much nowadays, with superstars often changing teams and cities at some point during their careers. It's just the way things work out amidst the ever-changing financial landscape and the nature of shorter contracts, particularly in the NFL.
Mahomes' contract, however, represents an outlier. At 10 years in length, the extension kicks in following the two remaining years on his rookie deal, making this a 12-year pact in total. Commitments like that simply aren't common as players seek the flexibility to test the free agent market on a regular basis, but that wasn't the case with this deal.
"I think when you take a step back and look at this contract, the most exciting thing about it, and I believe Pat would agree with me, is that this contract shows just a total commitment and love for Kansas City," said General Manager Brett Veach. "Pat wants to win. He wants to start a dynasty, and he wants to do all those things here in Kansas City. That's extremely exciting for us and our fanbase."
"I'm just glad I get to continue to keep building this legacy in Kansas City," Mahomes added. "Obviously, with everything going on in the world with COVID and all this different stuff, to have this security to go into the community and be able to give back, I can't wait to not only build this legacy on the field, but off it. I'm excited for the future ahead, not only for me, but for the Kansas City Chiefs and the communities that have brought me up so far."
2. The contract was done in such a way that allows the Chiefs to keep surrounding Mahomes with top-tier talent.
What makes this contract so interesting and unique is that it was put together in a way that emphasized the importance of allowing the Chiefs the flexibility to surround Mahomes will talent in the coming seasons. That was one of Mahomes' mandates, after all, in addition to securing the life-changing security that the largest contract in sports history provides.
"Coach and I know as well as anybody that if he's healthy and there is talent around him, [this team is] unstoppable. The framework was based on how we can get him the most protection and at the same time, continually allowing to have great talent around him," Veach explained. "Pat is very mature at his young age and he knows he has a great city, great ownership and a Hall of Fame coach, so it's going to be hard to beat this. We thought how could we put Pat in a position where he is the highest paid player in the game - which he is - and on top of that, put it in a format that will continually allow us to have talent around him. I give credit to their staff for wanting to get him a legacy deal and not just a cash deal."
Mahomes echoed that same sentiment when discussing his emphasis on keeping the organization in mind when working on his contract.
"I'm not going to sit here and lie and say that having a great football team around me doesn't help me while I'm on the field. I wanted to find the best way that I could do that and I feel like, as we talked and as [my agent Chris Cabott] and all these guys talked, they came to me with this idea and concept of making me financially secure, but having the ability to go out and sign and re-sign these guys. We're obviously returning 20 or 21 starters from last season, so I knew that this was going to be the right way to do it where we can accomplish those things that were important to me."
"You have to have a special and unique person like we have in Pat to understand this," Veach added. "He's going to make more money than he'll ever know what to do with, but he wants to see the organization reward other players and surround him with players like the Badger [safety Tyrann Mathieu] and [wide receiver] Tyreek [Hill] and all of these guys. I joked with Chris and said it's almost impossible to have the largest contract in sports history and have the player look unselfish, but somehow, he's the highest paid player in the game and will be for a long time, and it does so in a way that allows us to reward his teammates along the way."
The length of the deal also means the Chiefs have a much clearer financial picture when it comes to roster-building for the next decade. Shorter deals at the quarterback position can lead to less clarity when trying to construct a team with multiple future seasons in mind. The Chiefs now have that clarity for the next 12 years in regard to Mahomes.
"I think we're dealing with a known factor now," Veach said. "We're dealing with known numbers and known figures and it prepares us for the future and allows us to prepare and plan every year. Like I said, when you have structural stability, we believe this contract allows us to have a working number to deal with every year. With this contract, we can do certain things in order to create cap space, but now, we're dealing with something that we know as opposed to the unknown which is never a good scenario for a team to encounter during the offseason."
3. The trust and communication between Mahomes and the Chiefs' front office is abundantly clear.
We all know that Mahomes, Head Coach Andy Reid and Veach are among the best in the NFL at what they do, but what's perhaps even more impressive is how cohesively they work with one another. That trust is often on display during the season, but it was equally present as this contract came together.
"I would tell you that when you talk about team, you talk about trust. I think that it's one of the biggest factors when you're dealing with an organization," Reid said. "If I can't trust [President] Mark Donovan, [Chairman & CEO] Clark Hunt or Brett Veach and if the players can't keep an open book with everybody here, then we have a problem. We've tried to strive for that. Not only do we do it with Pat, but the coaches do it with their players…You try to be as honest as you can with people so that they trust you. Sometimes, honesty is a tough thing, especially in this day and age. With all this technology, there is no better time to be honest than right now."
"Both Pat and I got to learn from the best in Coach Reid," Veach added. "When I come to the facility every day, Pat and I know that there's not going to be a team in the NFL that is more prepared to play on Sunday. Coach and I know that there's not going to be a quarterback who is more prepared to play than Pat. I hope that Coach and Pat know that when we enter free agency or the draft, that our staff will be ready to go and be prepared. It's just accountability. It's knowing that we trust the guy next to us to do their job and we know that we have some of the best in the NFL to do it."
That trust helped lead to the franchise's first Super Bowl title in a half-century and Mahomes' new contract, which now provides the reigning Super Bowl MVP with the stability to not only run it back in 2020, but hopefully for seasons to come.
"It's never been about money to me. Obviously, it's awesome and it's an exciting time for me, but at the same time, I've always been about being the best person and the best player that I can be every single day," Mahomes said. "I believe this is another step in the journey that's just beginning and I'm just excited that we have this done and I have that security that I can go out there and be the same player that I was and that same person that I was the day I stepped in this league."
It's the kind of thing that understandably has Coach Reid pretty excited, too. Despite more than two decades as a head coach, he isn't even thinking about calling it a career just yet.
"I haven't got to that point mentally where I'm thinking about retirement. One of the great things about this job is when you look forward to coming to work and to deal with the players and coaches. I'm lucky enough to be around good players and coaches. This guy here [Mahomes], makes it even better," Reid said. "I come to work and have two great leaders like [Mahomes and Mathieu], along with other players who love to play the game. Listen, if it takes me into my 70s then let's roll. Doggone it, I'm ready to go."