MVP in 2018. Super Bowl MVP in 2019. Record-setting contract in 2020?
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is on the fast track to becoming the NFL’s highest-paid player entering only his third season as a starter. If the Chiefs’ low-key offseason is any indication, the organization is preparing to accommodate its star signal-caller sooner rather than later. On April 30, Kansas City exercised its fifth-year option on the 24-year-old, which keeps him under contract through the 2021 season, but have been hesitant to put a timeline on when a long-term extension might get done.
In January 2019, ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that Mahomes “could land the NFL’s first $200 million contract” after the 2019 season. The fourth-year pro has only elevated his status among the league’s most talented and important players since then.
Cris Collinsworth: ‘No Question’ Mahomes Will Be Highest-Paid
In a video call with 41 Action News in Kansas City on Friday, NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth provided his perspective on just how expensive Mahomes’ mega-deal might be.
“There’s no question he’s going to be the highest-paid player in the history of the league …,” Collinsworth said of Mahomes. “If it comes in at anything less than $50 million (per year), I’d be really surprised.”
To put a potential $50 million salary in perspective, the league’s top average annual salary (AAV) is currently $35 million, held by Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson who signed a new four-year, $140 million extension last April. Here is how the rest of the top-5 salaries shake out:
Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who accounts for the eighth-highest AAV among quarterbacks, holds the NFL’s most expensive overall deal at $150 million over five seasons (set to expire in 2023).
Salary Cap Space a Cause For Concern?
According to the NFLPA, the Chiefs have approximately $6.3 million in salary cap space to work with heading into the 2020 offseason program and eventually the regular season, which the Chiefs are scheduled to kick off on Thursday Night Football against the Houston Texans on September 10.
The defending Super Bowl champions have made a few strategic moves in order to clear money off the books in recent months, such as re-signing WR Sammy Watkins to a new one-year deal and releasing long-time P Dustin Colquitt. However, general manager Brett Veach and staff still face a few key financial decisions that could affect the size and timing of a new deal for their superstar quarterback. The most pressing of which is the future of Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones, who is set to play out the 2020 season under the non-exclusive franchise tag worth $16.1 million.
While there’s little doubt that Mahomes will be in a Chiefs uniform for years to come, the franchise may need to stall a bit longer to help all of the pieces fall into place.
In early April, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that the contract “probably is going to happen after the draft as they see how the roster settles.”
More recently on April 27, Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt told NFL Network’s James Palmer that he’s expecting a deal to be done in the “short term,” while Veach floated training camp in July or August as a potential target date for its completion.
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