clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Patrick Mahomes new contract is a wake-up call to the Steelers: Inner workings

New, comments

The contract contains rolling guarantees but still allows for either a reasonable opt out or restructure farther down the road.

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) puts all NFL teams on the same playing ground with complicated rules regarding the NFL Salary Cap. Some teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers use vanilla contracts which are straightforward while others get very creative. In the first part of this series, I laid out the basic structure the Kansas City Chiefs implemented to keep Patrick Mahomes under contract for the next 12 years. While I pointed out that the contract is not a fully guaranteed half a billion dollars, I showed the basic structure of it. In this segment, I lay out the rolling guarantee schedule along with the cap hit by year.

Below is how the rolling guarantee schedule works:

2020: Fully guaranteed at signing
2021: Fully guaranteed at signing.
2022: Fully guaranteed at signing.
2023: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2021
2024: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2022
2025: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2023
2026: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2025
2027: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2026
2028: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2027
2029: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2028
2030: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2029
2031: Fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year in 2030

Cap hit by year:

2020: $5.35 million
2021: $24.807 million
2022: $31.45 million
2023: $42.45 million
2024: $39.95 million
2025: $41.95 million
2026: $41.95 million
2027: $59.95 million
2028: $44.45 million
2029: $44.95 million
2030: $50.45 million
2031: $52.45 million

As you can see from above, the Chiefs can opt out of his contract, but it would be expensive to do so early in the contract. Later in his contract, it becomes more plausible to do only one year of rolling guarantees before mid-March.

Mahomes Contract

Year Base Signing bonus Roster bonus Workout bonus
Year Base Signing bonus Roster bonus Workout bonus
2020 $825,000 $4,521,538 $0 $0
2021 $990,000 $2,000,000 $21,716,905 $100,000
2022 $1,500,000 $2,000,000 $27,400,000 $550,000
2023 $5,500,000 $2,000,000 $34,400,000 $550,000
2024 $2,500,000 $2,000,000 $34,900,000 $550,000
2025 $2,500,000 $0 $38,900,000 $550,000
2026 $2,500,000 $0 $38,900,000 $550,000
2027 $10,000,000 $0 $49,400,000 $550,000
2028 $13,000,000 $0 $30,900,000 $550,000
2029 $20,500,000 $0 $23,900,000 $550,000
2030 $27,000,000 $0 $22,900,000 $550,000
2031 $38,000,000 $0 $13,900,000 $550,000

In 2025, the Chiefs can bail out of the contract before mid-March and eat $42 million in dead money. The 2027 sseason might be the most important year as the Chiefs could get the most bang for their buck on a restructure with Mahomes set to count a whopping $60 million against the cap. They could theoretically restructure $58 million and kick $46.4 million down the road, which would add $16.4 million in the remaining years.

Having rolling guarantees built in years perfect for a restructure or over the length of the contract is nothing new, but combining them all with a small signing bonus makes the deal unique. Mahomes is betting on himself to remain healthy and continue his progression to be the top NFL quarterback while the Chiefs are betting the same thing but have options down the road to cut their losses if necessary.

Why am I taking the contract apart piece by piece? The Chiefs and Mahomes agreed on a very creative contract that could very well be a blueprint for how the Steelers may implement to sign Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, or other players when it is their turn to make tens of millions. I believe the current vanilla structure the Steelers employ will not satisfy the demands required by Watt, Fitzpatrick, or to land the next James Farrior and keep him for his career. Signing bonuses are just not going to be good enough — players want job security and that comes with guaranteed years. It is a ‘follow the leader’ league after all, and Kansas City is fresh off a Super Bowl win.

Be sure to check back with BTSC why Mahomes contract becomes problematic with the Steelers future dealings with contracts.