On the Friday night before Super Bowl LVII, Patrick Mahomes’s agent Chris Cabott texted the Chiefs, nudging them on the idea of redoing the transcendent quarterback’s contract.
The response: In 48 hours, Mahomes would be a champion again, and at that point the team would work through all the “wonderfulness” that comes with that. Sure enough, the 27-year-old held up his end of the bargain, outgunning the Eagles in a wild Super Bowl shootout to win his second ring. And seven months later, the team has fulfilled its side of a promise that, everyone hopes, will lead to Mahomes being a Chief for the rest of his career.
After spending the past six months exploring amending the 10-year extension Mahomes signed in 2020 for the current fast-changing NFL economic times—and last month working on it in earnest—the team and its franchise player reached agreement on a unique restructure for a unique talent who’s spent the past five years at the pinnacle of the sport.
What’s different about this quarterback deal is it adds no new years and no new money, but pushes all kinds of cash forward to recognize where the market has gone in the three years since the sides did their 2020 deal. Mahomes will now make $208.1 million between 2023 and ’26, the most money over a four-year span in NFL history.
Since Mahomes signed his 10-year extension, he fell from first to eighth in the average-per-year (APY) metric. And a contract that was built to recognize a rising financial tide became outdated quickly—it was set to tick up from $40 million per year to $50 million per year in 2026. But in ’23, we already have four quarterbacks past that benchmark and now Mahomes.
- Joe Burrow, Bengals: Five years, $275 million ($55M APY)
- Mahomes, Chiefs: Four years, $210.6 million ($52.65M APY)
- Justin Herbert, Chargers, Five years, $262.5 million ($52.5M APY)
- Lamar Jackson, Ravens, Five years, $260 million ($52M APY)
- Jalen Hurts, Eagles: Five years, $255 million ($51M APY)
So here, then, are the particulars of Mahomes’s deal …
• His agents prioritized cash flow over guarantees, because, well, Mahomes doesn’t really need to worry about the Chiefs cutting him. So over the next four years, Mahomes is due $208.1 million—an NFL high—outpacing the $208 million Lamar Jackson is due over that time. Mahomes’s $261 million over the next five years is also an NFL high—just past the $260 million Jackson is due.
• The biggest difference between the Jackson and Mahomes deals is Jackson wasn’t under contract when he got his, whereas Mahomes had five years past the four years referenced. That means over the next four years, this is a raise. He’ll make $43.3 million more over the next four years than he was scheduled—a $13.9 million raise this year, $6.55 million raise in 2024, $8.05 million raise in ’25 and $14.8 million raise in ’26.
• He’s due $56.85 million this year, $44.5 million in 2024, $50 million in ’25 and $56.75 million in ’26. He’s due $52.9 million in 2027, which is the first year when his cash flow drops from the original terms, and “just” $27.125 million in 2028. That creates a natural point to renegotiate the contract between the 2026 and ’27 seasons.
• The guarantees are substantial, if not all record breakers. His injury guarantee is $208.1 million (covering his first four seasons), and his full guarantee is $133.7 million, taking him into 2025. Beyond that, there are rolling guarantees through the life of the deal. So $6.1 million of his ’27 money vests in March ’26, $8.2 million of his ’28 money vests in March ’27, $25.975 million of his ’29 money vests in March ’28, $13.9 million of his ’30 money vests in in March ’29, and $9.825 million of his ’31 money vests in March ’30. Most of that will surely be renegotiated, but for now it gives him a layer of protection, creating penalties for the team if it tries to exit the deal early.
• As for the player-team partnership here, Mahomes and the Chiefs agreed to push the roster bonus dates back to May, allowing the team to wait on how to structure the coming year’s money until after free agency and the draft. That, long-term, will give the team more flexibility to be creative in acquiring veterans to put around Mahomes (those roster bonuses were previously due in March, and all have guarantees attached, which makes when Mahomes earns them less relevant).
• He’ll also get a $20.574 million signing bonus as part of the deal, half of which will be paid now, the other half of which Mahomes will get in April 2024.
• Finally, there are escalators that are doable because, well, it’s Mahomes. He gets an extra $1.25 million tacked on to his base salary for a Super Bowl win, and an extra $1.25 million for winning the AP MVP award and making the conference title game. He’s hit those markers twice each which, applied to the new deal, would add up to another $5 million on his deal.
This, of course, wasn’t the simplest deal to do—as such, the Chiefs had GM Brett Veach, VPs of football operations Brandt Tilis and Chris Shea, and football administration coordinator Jack Wolov working with Cabott on it. And, really, everyone knew once Jackson, Jalen Hurts and Justin Herbert got done (Joe Burrow happened in the interim), it was time to drill down and make good on the promises of Super Bowl weekend.
The result is, well, a quarterback and a team that can move forward in lockstep.
Which, regardless of the price, is a lot better than the alternative.