Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s reign as the NFL’s highest-paid player ($35 million average) lasted 446 days.
Kansas City locked up quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Monday with a 10-year contract extension that includes $141.4 million guaranteed for injury.
In just the last seven years, the highest average salary has more than doubled — Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers averaged $22 million in his April 2013 deal.
I reached out to a league executive for their take on Mahomes’ contract.
Question: Is Mahomes’ deal more Chiefs-friendly or player-friendly?
A: “The deal is very team friendly. I like to say the Chiefs went to the liquor store to buy Dom Perignon to celebrate the fact they won the deal.”
Q: The contract was reportedly 117 pages long. Why so lengthy?
A: “The average contract length is about 10 pages. The extra pages for Mahomes is because nearly all of the money is conditionally guaranteed so they had to add the extra language in all of those years.”
Q: When news of the deal leaked, it was speculated the contract would be tied to a percentage of each year’s salary cap (it wasn’t in the contract). Is that even allowed?
A: “The league strongly advises against using a percentage of the cap. It’s not that you can’t do it, but good luck getting that contract approved by the league office. And it would be really hard to budget that as well without concrete numbers (of what the cap will be) so I can see why clubs are against it.”
Q: The deal has interesting footnotes in that Mahomes’ 2024 salary is guaranteed if he’s on the roster on March 20, 2022 and the same for subsequent years. How rare is that?
A: “Not great negotiating by the agent. You want as few converting/conditional guarantees as possible if you’re the player because you’re giving the club all kinds of ways out of your contract. They clearly did this for the hype of saying, ‘richest deal in history.’ The NFLPA should be (ticked).”
Q: Mahomes’ salary cap numbers are steady until 2027 when it jumps from $41.95 million in ’26 to $59.95 million. Is that a clue they will re-work the deal in ’27?
A: “There is no doubt in my mind they will rework this contract numerous times. They will take a lot of his roster bonuses and prorate them for salary cap space later on.”
Q: Is Mahomes’ contract better for the player than Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins’ fully-guaranteed three-year, $84 million deal?
A: “Kirk Cousins still wins. You want truly guaranteed money every time.”
Mahomes became the sixth quarterback since 2000 to sign a contract of at least 10 years. None have played out the deal with their team or won a Super Bowl during their contracts.
Michael Vick (age 24 with Atlanta) played two years and headed to prison for dog fighting. Daunte Culpepper (age 26 with Minnesota) sustained a major knee injury and was eventually traded to Miami. Donovan McNabb (age 26 with Philadelphia) played seven years of the deal before he was traded to Washington. Drew Bledsoe (age 32 with New England) lost his spot to Tom Brady a year into the deal and was flipped to Buffalo. And Brett Favre (32 with Green Bay) played six years of his deal and was traded to the New York Jets.
Mostert’s request. It’s not a great time to be a running back looking to strike it rich because so many of the players who signed big-money deals have underperformed. It’s really not great to be a running back with two years left on a contract and wanting a raise.
San Francisco’s Raheem Mostert, the 49ers’ leading rusher last year (772 yards/eight touchdowns), requested a trade Wednesday.
The 49ers have no reason to give Mostert a raise or trade him. He is scheduled to make $2.575 million and $2.875 million the next two years. Going public with a trade request rarely results in being moved. Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey is the exception, but when the Rams offered two first-round picks, the Jaguars rightly took the deal.
Opportunity for Shenault. Former Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault signed his rookie deal with the Jaguars on Thursday (four years, $7.69 million).
By falling into the second round (No. 42 overall), Shenault will get a chance to contribute immediately with the Jaguars instead of being stuck behind receivers if drafted by a playoff team late in the first round.
“I saw him play live against Oregon (last year) and to see him in person, he looks like a linebacker,” Jaguars director of college scouting Mark Ellenz said after the draft. “He’s really good with his run after the catch, not only with his burst and explosive speed, but he’s a strong kid who can break tackles so he blends a lot of things together.”
Shenault will compete with veteran Chris Conley to be the No. 2 receiver behind DJ Chark.
Plan for tarps. The NFL has authorized teams to tarp off the first eight rows of seats behind the benches in a social distancing move. Teams can sell advertisements on the tarps.
“The reality is, there are 12-16 positions that you could provide,” Broncos chief commercial officer Mac Freeman said. “That is probably only helpful to 6-10 partners. Some of those will be exchanges or make-goods for other assets that will be lost this season.”
Briefly. It was comical to see players whine about eliminating the post-game jersey swap for 2020. First, the players’ union signed off on the proposal. Second, there’s this thing called FedEx to send each other jerseys. … The deadline for players under the franchise tag, like Broncos safety Justin Simmons, to sign a long-term contract is Wednesday. … Two new Broncos players have arrived in the Denver area ahead of training camp and noticed the altitude. Tight end Nick Vannett tweeted he was going to buy a humidifier and receiver Jerry Jeudy tweeted, “It’s so hard to breathe up here. I (darn) near passed out going up these stairs.” … Hat tip to the Broncos’ media relations staff for their work on this year’s 668-page media guide. Safety Steve Atwater is on the front cover and coach Mike Shanahan on the back cover.