The making of Patrick Mahomes, the highest-paid man in sports history
Mahomes led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 50 years back in February
By James Simpson
Last Updated: 12/08/20 12:29pm
Patrick Mahomes has become something of a habitual record-breaker since landing in the NFL, and on Monday he added another to the list.
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback was rewarded for his phenomenal rise with the biggest deal in sports history, a 10-year contract extension said to be worth $503m.
Included is $477m in guarantee mechanisms, a no-trade clause and opt-out clauses if guarantee mechanisms are not met.
There are plenty of players who come along to take the league by storm and then fade away. Many current stars started slow, only to grow as their careers progressed.
But no one has started their life in the NFL quite like Mahomes.
Since taking over as the full-time starter for the Chiefs in Week One of the 2018 season, Mahomes has been a record-breaker and playmaker like we have not seen before, and he does not look like slowing down.
He finished that first season with 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns and the league's Most Valuable Player award and took his team to the AFC Championship game - their first since 1993 - before they were scuppered by a Tom Brady overtime drive at Arrowhead Stadium.
As an encore, the Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years with a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Miami after Mahomes led three consecutive touchdown drives to overturn a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
It followed another incredible season from the quarterback. 26 touchdowns and five picks may seem like moderate numbers, but keep in mind Mahomes actually dislocated his kneecap in Week Seven and missed the best part of three games, and his second-half-of-the-season displays are even more remarkable.
Kansas City rattled off six straight wins to end the season, secured the No 2 AFC seed, and Mahomes was flawless in the playoffs - eight touchdowns, no interceptions.
In toppling the 49ers Mahomes became the youngest player ever to win a Super Bowl and league MVP, doing so before the age of 25.
A special contract for a truly special player.
As the son of Pat Mahomes Sr, a Major League Baseball pitcher, and as a kid born in Texas, there was never any doubt Mahomes would play sports - and it became clear he had an arm with some talent.
In football, he was a quarterback. Baseball? A pitcher. He played basketball too, but football was his future, and even after he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 MLB draft, he opted for the football field - and in-state Texas Tech University.
His college career was statistically impressive, but that's the case for every quarterback who makes the NFL grade. 11,252 yards, 93 touchdowns and 29 picks in 32 games is fantastic.
But one game, in particular, stood out: October 22, 2016, Texas Tech vs Oklahoma.
His team lost, but it wasn't for lack of effort from the strong-armed, gunslinging QB. Defense was non-existent as future No 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and the Sooners topped the Texas Tech Red Raiders 66-59 (!) but Mahomes turned heads.
He broke the NCAA record for single-game passing yards with 734 (as well as five touchdowns) on a whopping 88 attempts. Add in his 85 rushing yards - the most in any game in his college career - and Mahomes' total of 819 total yards was another record number.
His contributions on the ground over the course of his college career were mightily impressive (22 TDs) but as we approached the 2017 NFL Draft, there was one thing scouts, coaches and general managers came to see - the arm.
The arm, the college production and his character were enough for Andy Reid and the Chiefs to give up their 27th overall selection, their third-rounder, and a first in 2018 to go up and get him.
It has turned out to be the perfect fit.
We've seen many quarterbacks come straight out of college, start in the pros and go on to have great success. We've also seen many crash and burn, lose confidence and never recover.
Mahomes was lucky enough to sit for one year behind a veteran quarterback in Alex Smith, and there's no doubt it paid dividends. Speaking in Miami during media week, Reid explained how helpful it was for the then-rookie QB to sit behind such a successful predecessor.
"Smith was phenomenal," he said. "He wasn't asked to do this but he let Patrick into his world. Patrick handled it the right way - he was humble and didn't try to overstep his bounds with Alex, but he competed.
"With that, Alex let him tag along with him on the field and off the field and showed him how to be a pro. So how you study, your diet, your workout plan, how you work your family into the National Football League and be a great player in the league.
"I joke about it but it's true: Patrick couldn't pay Alex enough for what he gave him with that experience."
Sure enough, Mahomes had to be patient behind Smith. And Chiefs fans have had to be patient with Reid, who has brought a new culture to Kansas City but has yet to deliver the big one. It is a very similar situation to his previous role.
When his opportunity did arrive, the impact was immediate. A four-touchdown outing in his debut as a starter. A six-touchdown, 42-point explosion as an encore.
It never slowed down.
In Week Three of the 2018 season, Mahomes was facing a third and goal at the four-yard line against the 49ers. In backpedalling to avoid the pass rush, he ended up back at the 24-yard line before firing to the back of the end zone to Chris Conley for a remarkable touchdown.
At Denver in Week Four, not only did he lead a 10-point fourth-quarter comeback, but one of the plays along the way was a five-yard third-down conversion with his left hand.
Week 14 in 2018 was a masterpiece. Against the Ravens, we saw a sideline sling, the unforgettable 'no-look pass', and a fourth-and-nine conversion in which he launched the ball way back across the field for Tyreek Hill, but it was simply too hard to stop.
With the unforgettable start to his career, Mahomes has already earned the respect of his peers.
"He's a great quarterback, man," cornerback Xavier Rhodes, now of the Indianapolis Colts, told Sky Sports at January's Pro Bowl in Orlando. "He can run, throw, he can throw on the run. He can make good reads. A quarterback like that, it's really hard to scheme for.
"You've got to play differently on the defensive line. They are the most important part because they've got to contain a mobile quarterback. If you don't, he'll get out and he will extend the play with his legs and throw the ball down the field."
His elusiveness in the pocket, cannon arm, and ridiculous creativity did not succumb to a sophomore slump.
In the first three games of 2019, he tossed 10 touchdowns and no picks, and that including four touchdowns in one quarter against the Oakland Raiders.
"[As a pass-rusher], you've really just got to try and keep him in the pocket, that's first," said Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaq Barrett. "But he's still going to be able to get out some way, somehow and make something happen."
Even a dislocated kneecap couldn't hold him back for long, as he missed just two and a half games before returning, and casually throwing for a season-high 446 yards (and three TDs) in that first game back. Mahomes even managed a career-high 59 rushing yards the week after.
The Chiefs came up with six straight wins before we got to see 'Playoff Mahomes: Part Two'. In the two games prior to Super Bowl LIV, he managed 615 yards, eight touchdowns, no picks and a 131.5 passer rating. A 24-point comeback followed by a 10-point one. 86 points as a team.
In the big game itself, despite starting unusually slowly and recording his second-lowest passer rating all season, the results were the same. Kansas City's offense - and Mahomes - couldn't be stopped, even by the best defense in the NFL. He kept up his streak of scoring at least 31 points in every postseason appearance and secured his first (and likely not last) Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Is there any way to stop him?
"Man, at the end of the day, when you play against him your secondary has to step up," added Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. "His arm is so talented that you can't zone it up or he's going to tear you apart."
So far, tearing defenses apart is all he has done. Mahomes is the highest-rated passer in NFL history (108.9 so far). He has also the highest career playoff passer rating (106.6) and TD-INT ratio by any player in the Super Bowl era.
Mahomes has enjoyed a special start to his NFL career, and if it continues at this pace, there is no doubt he will go down as one of the all-time greats.