Patrick Mahomes may end up being the highest paid quarterback in NFL history on his next deal, but changes to the 2021 salary cap could make this difficult.
Patrick Mahomes will get paid, but at what cost?
The Kansas City Chiefs superstar quarterback has been the best player in football the last two years, having won NFL MVP in 2018 and Super Bowl MVP in 2019. He is entering year four of his rookie deal out of Texas Tech University. Kansas City has also made a no-brainer by extending him a fifth year option. It’s great to be Mahomes these days.
But with a record-breaking contract rapidly approaching, there may be major roster construction issues for the Chiefs if the salary cap dips as much as ESPN’s Adam Schefter speculates it could. Schefter appeared on the My Sports Update NFL Podcast on Tuesday discussing how the 2021 salary cap could drop between $30 and $80 million because of COVID-19.
The 2020 NFL salary cap comes in at $198.2 million, just a shade up $200 million. FanSided‘s Matt Verderame reported the 2021 NFL salary cap could be as high as $240 million. But with Schefter saying it might dip as low as $130 million, this could be challenging for a team like the Chiefs hoping to pay a player like Mahomes $40 million annually. Could it still happen, though?
Since Mahomes is still under contract through the 2021 because of the fifth-year option exercised on his rookie deal, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach wouldn’t technically have to put a new deal in place until after that season. He’d have the ability to franchise tag him if he absolutely needed to should the economy still be in a tough spot in the aftermath of the virus a few years from now.
Regardless, Kansas City knows it must pay Mahomes handsomely shortly. The Chiefs have some time because they want to bring back defensive lineman Chris Jones on a long-term extension first after being franchise tagged this year. However, salary cap constraints dictated by declining revenue should there not be fans in the stands might make the Chiefs pick between the two.
If that’s the case, the answer is simple and they’ll pick Mahomes without a second thought. The greater issues here is Mahomes was slated to get a five-year, $200 million contract from Kansas City in the next year or so. Now, he may not even get $35 million annually because of potentially declining revenue. And it won’t only be his bank account that is affected by this.
Players like Jones will have to sign elsewhere in free agency. The Chiefs may not be able to keep a top free agent or two entering the 2021 and 2022 NFL offseasons because of a shrinking salary cap. While Mahomes is not even in his mid-20s yet, league-wide salary cap reductions may cost him his well-deserved pay day, as well as limit the Chiefs’ financial flexibility for years.