When the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed his 10-year extension that spread a record-breaking $503 million over the length of the deal, it shocked the football world.
Not only was it the largest sum of money ever promised to an NFL player, the contract’s structure was unique.
It was longer than most quarterback deals — and featured mechanisms that would allow the team to easily open up cap space when it would be needed.
Chiefs fans rejoiced, praising the Super Bowl MVP for caring about the team’s future — and making it possible for the team to surround him with worthwhile talent.
Fast forward three years. The team has traded All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill because it wasn’t willing to pay what he was demanding for a new deal.
Now it is in negotiation with defensive tackle Chris Jones for a contract extension — but Jones has been holding out of training camp since it began on July 23.
The Chiefs’ offense moved past Hill without much of a hiccup — but Jones’ absence would probably be catastrophic to the defense. Mahomes knows that.
“I’ve talked to Chris,” Mahomes revealed to reporters after Wednesday’s training-camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.
“Not necessarily about contract stuff, [because] that’s how I am: I never talk about the contract. I talk about football — [and] how he’s doing. He’s working out; he’s staying in shape.
All that will handle itself. All I can do is support him — be a teammate.
“That is one of the guys that has been a staple of this organization for a long time. Hopefully, we get him back in camp as soon as possible.”
Head coach Andy Reid was asked about Jones’ absence last Friday.
At that time, he told reporters that he hadn’t talked to his star defensive lineman in a few days — and that Jones had given him no indication about when he might arrive.
Each day that Jones does not report to camp, it seems less likely that the team and Jones will come to terms.
Furthermore, it is disrupting the defense’s preparation for the season; the players who have been taking Jones’ place at training camp are generally not projected to even make the 53-man roster.
In an ideal world, the team would not find itself in this situation. But compared to other teams that are paying superstar quarterbacks their due, the Chiefs are in an ideal world.
No other team has the same luxuries of flexibility and liquidity that Kansas City possesses with Mahomes’ contract