Since the day that Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones touched the field for the Kansas City Chiefs it was clear they were talented and could someday be expensive to keep. Now a few years later in 2020, it is confirmed that they both will receive pricey extensions soon. With these contracts looming, Kansas City has to do all that they can as an organization to save money this coming season. Since the team only has $6 million in salary cap space, they should make it a priority to do what it takes to get both players extended. Now you may be wondering how they can do this with only $6 million available. Let’s take a deeper look at how a new contract for both players can save Kansas City money this upcoming season.
The priority of the Chiefs will be to get a deal made with Jones first since they are working against a time restriction, and have more time to figure out a Mahomes contract. The Chiefs must have a new deal with Jones by July 15th, 2020, or else they will have to keep him on the franchise tag at an expensive $16 million for just this upcoming year. This $16 million would not be financially smart for the team, and it gives Jones no long term security. I expect the team to give Jones a deal around five years, $100 million with $65 million guaranteed; similar to what the team gave DE Frank Clark. I think Jones will want to be paid higher than Clark because he recently has been the more consistent and productive player of the two. He deserves this amount of money and I think he will not accept anything less; which is justified since over the last two seasons, Aaron Donald has been the only interior defensive lineman with more sacks and QB hits than Jones. Jones set an NFL record for executing a sack in 11 straight games in 2018, and has 24.5 sacks in his last 25 regular-season games. Next-Gen Stats credits Jones with 80 QB pressures since 2018, which is in the top five among defensive tackles. These stats show how valuable he is to the team, and I think pass rush consistency in this league is priceless. The key to this contract that will allow the Chiefs to save money this season is to backload the deal, making the 2020 cap hit low. I would do $9 or $10 million in 2020, then upwards of $25 million in the last two years. This will save the team roughly $7 million in 2020 and help absorb the cap hit needed to sign Mahomes for 2020. This deal will give Jones the financial and long term security he deserves, as well as save the team roughly $7 million in 2020.
Now Patrick Mahomes’ deal will be a little bit more difficult because he is not making the large amount of money Jones currently is on the books for. With Jones being on the tag of $16 million, it saves Kansas City money in 2020 to extend him. However, for Mahomes there is going to be a large salary jump from his current deal. On his rookie deal, Mahomes has averaged around $8 million per year, but I expect him to receive a bigger pay amount than I projected in my last piece regarding his new deal. Since Deshaun Watson is asking for between $40 and $42 million per year from the Houston Texans, it would not be right to give Patrick less than $43 million per year. Since he is, in my opinion, the best QB, he should be paid in a way that reflects that. First of all, his accomplishments in his first year as a starter in 2018 included 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards culminating in the teams’ first run to a conference championship since “Montana Magic” in 1993. Then, in 2019 he dealt with injury and adversity, but overcame these obstacles to lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl 54 victory in only his second year as a full-time starter. To put the situation into perspective, Deshaun Watson is asking for similar money and only has one playoff victory. Their situations are different, but Mahomes has been the more accomplished and an overall better player than Watson; therefore, he deserves to be paid as though he is the best in the league at his positon. My newest projection for the deal is 5 years, $220 million with $170 million guaranteed, which is roughly $44 million per year. This deal will make him the highest-paid player of all time, which some would assume will negatively affect the Chiefs salary cap for next year and beyond, but I disagree. If you look at the projected growth of the salary cap, the team might be getting a deal for Mahomes at $44 million per year three years from now. The key is to do what they did with Jones and backload the contract, giving Patrick Mahomes $25 million in 2020, then increase the numbers towards the last two years into the $50 to $55 million yearly range. Backloading the deal and giving him $25 million in 2020, opposed to an average yearly salary of $44 million, will help them save money in 2020. Although this will create salary cap obstacles after year one or two of the extension, it is worth a shot at another championship. Doing this deal structure will allow the team to keep the best player in the NFL, and still maintain elite talent around him for the next two years. With these moves, the Chiefs will put themselves in a position to stay salary cap compliant in the immediate future and chase more Lombardi Trophies.
In conclusion, the team has their work cut out for them. However, it is a doable task bearing in mind that both Jones and Mahomes agree to sign their new contracts. For Jones, it is a win-win because he is getting both paid, and long term commitment with his projected new contract that includes 5 years, $100 million with $65 million guaranteed. This is more important for him because this might be the biggest deal of his career. Therefore, it is important to get a large amount of guaranteed money as early in your career as possible to maximize your earning potential over the span of your career. In Mahomes’ case, he does not have to worry about chasing just one large deal, because at only 24 and being a QB, he will make big money like this projected 5 year, $220 million deal with $170 million guaranteed during a vast majority of his career in the NFL. However, unlike Jones, I expect Mahomes to be a lifelong Chief, which eliminates his worry of long-term security as well. Mahomes has little to stress over, he will be a Chief for life and the highest-paid player to ever touch an NFL field. If the team follows the structure of each contract I projected and backloads both deals, it will save the Chiefs money in 2020 also; which gives the team the best chance to win now thanks to the structure of both of the new contracts. Moving forward, with both Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones in the red and gold for the next five years, anything is possible for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 and beyond.