Everyone knew the Kansas City Chiefs were going to give Patrick Mahomes the equivalent of a blank check when it came time to extend his contract. Turns out that happened sooner rather than later, as Adam Schefter broke the news on Monday that the Chiefs had agreed to a 10-year extension with their superstar quarterback. It's slated to kick in starting in 2023. The financials have yet to be released, but it is safe to assume that Mahomes will be wealthy beyond his wildest imagination and in a Chiefs uniform until he's on the far back end of his career.
A 10-year deal is not quite unprecedented in NFL history, but it's close. Baseball and hockey players have managed to secure similar long-term financial commitments; the New York Yankees handed out two this century, one to Derek Jeter and one to Alex Rodriguez. Anything longer than a five-year deal is rare in the NFL due to the short length of most players' careers and how quickly circumstances can change given the violent nature of the game. Quarterbacks are generally the exception to those two caveats. They're saved from the wear-and-tear of banging heads on a snap-to-snap basis and have an easier time coming back from serious injury for the same reason.
It's no surprise the Chiefs inked Mahomes to a massive and lengthy new contract, because he's the best quarterback in the league at 25-years-old and just brought the franchise their first championship in half a century. Looking at past NFL deals that go into double-digit year lengths, history is not exactly on Kansas City's side. But Mahomes is unlike any other player in history, so it's safe to believe this will work out barring a catastrophic injury or extenuating circumstance.
The most recent 10-year contract went to Michael Vick. The Atlanta Falcons offered Vick a 10-year deal worth $130 in the winter of 2004. This obviously is not a good example, because very soon after Vick's dogfighting ring came to light and he ended up in jail. But the other similarities are there. Vick was an extremely exciting, borderline unbelievably talented young player bringing an often-woeful franchise to the forefront of football. Mahomes won't end up like Vick, but the thinking was along the same lines.
There was some precedent there, too. Dante Culpepper signed a 10-year, $102 million extension with the Minnesota Vikings with a $16 million signing bonus one year prior in 2003. Culpepper was 26 at the time. He played well in the two seasons immediately following the contract, then played only seven games in 2005 and was out of Minnesota by 2006.
Donovan McNabb was given a similar contract by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002, signing a 12-year, $115 million deal. That worked out much better for the Eagles than the Vikings or Falcons; McNabb took them to a Super Bowl and generally kept them competitive until he was traded to Washington following the 2009 season.
The original iteration of the 10-year NFL contract came from Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots. The Patriots, just like the Falcons, Vikings, and Eagles, were a historically bad franchise that found an extremely talented quarterback to bring them to relevance in the draft. As such, they inked Bledsoe to a 10-year, $103 million deal in March of 2001. We are all aware of what happened next season: Bledsoe gets hurt, some guy named Tom Brady stepped in, and suddenly New England has a huge albatross of a contract for their backup quarterback. Like Vick, there's no way to predict or assume that something similar will happen to Mahomes.
The McNabb contract was expensive, but overall it generally worked out for Philadelphia. They didn't win a title, true, but McNabb played well enough to justify a contract of that length and size. The Chiefs are likely most nervous about a Culpepper situation, where Mahomes' effectiveness drops off a cliff because of injury issues. Unlike Culpepper, though, Mahomes makes his plays with his arm and accuracy rather than relying on his legs for a good amount of his production. There is a future where Mahomes tears his shoulder up and isn't a world-destroying signal-caller anymore, but that is an unlikely future. Otherwise, there's no reason to think he isn't going to be a top-two quarterback for almost the entirety of this deal.
It's a very bold move to tie your franchise to one player for a decade. But if anyone has justified it, it's Mahomes. History isn't optimistic that this contract will work out in the long run, but there's little reason to doubt Mahomes. He's just that good.