KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Try as they might to determine quarterback Patrick Mahomes' value to the franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs find that to be a futile exercise. The Chiefs have never had a player like him -- and the NFL hasn’t, either.
“I don't know that there's really a way to quantify it financially,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said last spring. “No matter what he makes over his career, I’m sure one way or another he'll be underpaid.”
The Chiefs and Mahomes settled on making him the highest paid NFL player over the next four seasons by giving him $210.6 million over the next four seasons, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday. Prior to Mahomes’ new contract, Lamar Jackson’s $208 million through 2026 was the highest, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
But does that reflect his true value to the Chiefs and to the NFL? In an interview with ESPN this summer, Mahomes acknowledged he wasn’t sure how much he could command if the NFL didn’t have a salary cap or other rules restricting pay.
“You wonder about it,” Mahomes said. “It’s just not the reality of what it is.”
While his value may be hard to quantify, his production is not. Mahomes is the only NFL player in history to win two MVP awards and two Super Bowls in his first six seasons. The reigning MVP led the NFL in pass touchdowns (41) and pass yards (5,250) in 2022.
By the time he took over as a starter in 2018, the Chiefs had won four division titles and one playoff game in 20 seasons. They hadn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1970.
In the five years since, the Chiefs have never missed the AFC Championship Game. They have three Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl wins.
Many others have a hand in this, including coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach, tight end Travis Kelce and defensive lineman Chris Jones. But all were with the Chiefs before Mahomes. His arrival brought the momentum.
“When you talk about the success that we've had over the last five years, Patrick has to be right there at the top of the list,” Hunt said.
Mahomes’ previous contract extension, worth $450 million over 10 years and signed in 2020, was widely viewed as team friendly. It was designed to allow the Chiefs to continue to build a competitive team around him.
One of the first people Mahomes contacted after signing that contract was Jones, at the time the Chiefs’ unsigned franchise player. He famously told Jones he left money on the table for him and that the Chiefs would soon be calling with a new offer.
Jones shortly afterward signed a four-year deal worth $80 million. Jones signed a new one-year deal last week after an offseason holdout.
Mahomes explained that was the idea when he agreed to the contract, that he will ultimately be judged by how many championships he wins and not by how much money he is paid.
Mahomes supplements his Chiefs salary with endorsements that bring him $20 million annually, according to Forbes. Mahomes said that money is based more on team success than personal achievements.
“You want to get paid as much as you possibly can get paid, obviously for your family, but at the same time you want to win,” he said. “I feel like the more you win, the more you get paid off the field as well so it kind of makes itself up that way.
“The more wins you have, the more you’ll make in the future. When I’m done playing football, I’ll still be able to make money because I’ve won a lot of football games.”
Mahomes’ career is far from finished. But based on what Mahomes and the Chiefs have accomplished so far, he’s going to be well-compensated well beyond his playing days.
He still may not be paid what he’s been worth.