The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up their first session of organized team activities (OTAs) on Wednesday, marking the third day in a row that OTAs were in session. In addition to new faces in new places all throughout the team, one mainstay served as a central focus: quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Throughout the offseason, some have speculated that Mahomes’s current contract with the team could need to be reworked soon. Earlier this spring, general manager Brett Veach expressed that the team and Mahomes’s camp have maintained an open line of communication. In the same breath, he reiterated that both sides have each other’s best interests in mind and the timing of other high-profile quarterback contracts will factor into the equation as well. With Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Los Angeles Chargers signal-caller Justin Herbert both up for new deals, no one in Kansas City appeared to be in too much of a hurry to restructure the Mahomes contract.
On Wednesday, Mahomes took the podium to share his thoughts on the first few days of OTAs. When asked about whether his current contract needs to be adjusted, the 2022 NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion took a route that many would compare to that of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Mahomes said he’s more focused on legacy and rings than money right now, adding that he wants to ensure the Chiefs can keep a great supporting cast of players for him.
“Me, my agent and the team always keep open communication,” Mahomes said. “And we try to do whatever is best for the team but obviously, I want to do the best for myself as well. But at the same time, I’ve always said I worry about legacy and winning rings more than money at this moment. I know we keep communication and we see what’s going on around the league but at the same time, I’ll never do anything that’s going to hurt us from keeping the great players around me. So, it’s kind of [about] teetering around that line.”
As things currently stand, Mahomes is entering his age-28 season and his contract doesn’t expire until the conclusion of the 2031 campaign. If he rode out his current deal as-is, he’d be a Chief until he’s 36 years old. That contract, an original 10-year pact worth a reported $450 million at the time of signing, was viewed by some as a market-resetting deal that could keep Kansas City’s championship window from opening. Instead, it’s been a relative bargain and allowed the team to continue paying high-cost premiums to other players on the roster in recent years.
Right now, Mahomes is the seventh-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL by average annual value (AAV). His AAV of $45M is just ahead of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and a trio of quarterbacks making $40M per year, but it’s also behind the likes of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson ($46M), Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray ($46.1M) and many others. Considering that Mahomes is regarded as the best quarterback in the league, his pay doesn’t reflect it. Despite that, he reiterates that money isn’t his sole focus.
“You just want to do whatever [you can] to not hurt other quarterbacks whenever their contracts come up,” Mahomes said. “You want to kind of keep the bar pushing. It’s not about being the highest-paid guy. It’s not about making a ton of money. I’ve made enough money to where I’ll be set for the rest of my life. At the same time, you’ve got to find that line where you’re making a good amount of money but you’re still keeping a lot of great players around you so you can win these Super Bowls and you can compete in these games.”
Once Burrow and Herbert’s deals inevitably get ironed out in the coming weeks, Mahomes will likely be bumped down to ninth in the league in terms of quarterback AAV. That’s where the buzz surrounding his deal comes from, but it’s also part of why he signed the contract in the first place. Mahomes and the Chiefs knew that a situation like this would come up, and it was something they entered into mutually. They’ll navigate an adjustment mutually when the time comes, although it’s becoming apparent that it isn’t necessarily a pressing matter for either side.
Earlier this offseason, in fact, Kansas City restructured part of Mahomes’s deal in order to manufacture some additional salary cap space for the 2023 league year. The focus has been on finding ways to pay the team’s multiple star players while also navigating the free agent market, which now has the club poised for another successful season. As other internal contract situations come up soon, the hope for Mahomes is that his contract leaves the door open for some of his teammates to also get paid over the next few seasons.
“You look at the team and you’ve got guys like Chris (Jones) and (L’Jarius) Sneed and Travis (Kelce) and all these guys you need to keep around you to have these great teams but at the same time, you want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself,” Mahomes said. “We have open communication, and I think that’s the biggest thing. You see that from (Chairman and CEO) Clark (Hunt), you see that from Coach Reid, you see that from (general manager Brett) Veach and everybody. We just try to make sure that we have the best team on that football field and everybody gets what they deserve.”