Patrick Mahomes was a “blank check” player for the Kansas City Chiefs. The quarterback would tell the Chiefs how much he wanted, and the team would pay it. We all knew that.
That number reportedly came in at $503 million over 10 years, an NFL record. It’s well earned, too. Despite playing in only one game as a rookie, Mahomes has had one of the greatest three-year starts to a career in NFL history. For some reference, 13 players have won a Super Bowl MVP and regular-season NFL MVP. Nine are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Marcus Allen, Emmitt Smith, Steve Young, Terrell Davis, John Elway and Kurt Warner. Three are locks to make it when eligible: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
Mahomes is the 13th. After two seasons as a starting quarterback.
But that doesn’t mean the Chiefs are in a better position to win a championship than they were before Mahomes signed. BetMGM doesn’t have an over/under on how many more Super Bowls the Chiefs will go to over Mahomes’ deal, but if you’re setting a hypothetical line of 2.5, history says the over will be hard to hit. Teams just don’t win big with huge quarterback contracts.
Not many teams win big with high-priced QBs
The NFL salary cap started in 1994. Young won a championship with the San Francisco 49ers, making 13.1 percent of the team’s salary cap, according to OverTheCap.com. That still stands as the largest percentage of the cap any quarterback has ever taken up for a Super Bowl-winning team.
That doesn’t mean the 2016 Atlanta Falcons blew a big Super Bowl lead because Matt Ryan was taking up 15 percent of the cap or that the New England Patriots wouldn’t have still won if Brady wasn’t taking a discounted deal, but it’s still logical and telling. Football is a team game, and even though quarterback is the most valuable position in sports, paying him a large amount of the cap keeps teams from signing other high-priced talent.
Here are the only quarterbacks on Super Bowl-winning teams who have taken up 10 percent of their team’s salary cap:
Young, 1994, 13.1 percent
Brady, 2018, 12.2 percent
Eli Manning, 2011, 11.7 percent
Peyton Manning, 2015, 11.7 percent
Brady, 2014, 10.6 percent
Peyton Manning, 2006, 10.4 percent
Brett Favre, 1996, 10.2 percent
Mahomes’ 10-year extension is reportedly worth more than $500 million. Let’s call it an even $500 million and split that equally over the 10 years. Unless the salary cap rises to more than $381 million — it’s $198.2 million this season — Mahomes will make more than 13.1 percent of the Chiefs’ cap.
So if Mahomes won one Super Bowl making as much as he will, he’ll make history. To do it three times seems to be asking a lot.
Patrick Mahomes will be challenged to win more rings
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is a prime example of what happens when a team pays one player a high percentage of the cap. Wilson is undeniably great and nobody would say he’s not worth his massive contract. But the two times he went to a Super Bowl, he was making 0.5 percent and 4.7 percent of Seattle’s cap. The Seahawks had a brilliant roster around Wilson when he was on his rookie deal. Since Wilson reached 12 percent of the Seahawks’ cap in 2016, Seattle’s roster isn’t as deep and the Seahawks haven’t reached a Super Bowl.
Like Wilson, Mahomes is a phenomenal player and worth the contract. He’s the easy bet to be the NFL’s best player over the 2020s. If the Chiefs never win another Super Bowl with him, it would probably still be worth $400 million for the Super Bowl LIV win.
No matter how great Mahomes will be, it’s still hard to win in the NFL. The Chiefs’ roster will have to change with Mahomes’ extension. Andy Reid won’t coach forever, especially now that he has a ring. Mahomes isn’t guaranteed to stay healthy — he came frighteningly close to a season-ending injury last season. More can go wrong in the NFL than can go right.
If you’re setting an over/under for Super Bowl wins for the Chiefs and Mahomes going forward, you’d be optimistic. Mahomes is great. The Chiefs seem like they’ll be a factor for a long time. But it got tougher with Mahomes’ extension. History tells us that, and reminds us there’s no guarantee he’ll ever win another one.
More from Yahoo Sports: