Eric Strobel

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Patrick Mahomes forever altered the sports contract landscape with his landmark 10-year, $450 million extension that became official this week. It made all the sense in the world to lock up the 2018 MVP whose team could very easily be coming off back-to-back Super Bowl titles if not for a nail-biting loss to the eventual-champion Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship game. But Brad Spielberger, who does extensive salary cap research and writing for OverTheCap.com, believes Mahomes could have massively cashed in again if he took a different approach to these negotiations

Coming in, we knew this was going to be a groundbreaking deal in some respects... I really didn’t think he was going to give up that many years of control – it’s basically a lifetime contract. Again, I know it’s maybe up to half a billion dollars, so it sounds crazy to maybe question his thinking there, but in 5, 6, 7 years down the road, he probably could have gotten another deal that would have made this one look small in comparison.

Every team in the league would love this deal… every front office in the NFL would say, the fact that they have this much time on this deal is the best part about it. Again, it’s a monstrous deal and there are outs at certain points so it’s not so strict as to say he can’t get out of it or he can’t work with it. If I’m his agent, I would push for 5 years, $200M fully guaranteed; let’s go mega-Kirk Cousins on steroids, let’s change the game, and then let’s see if we can sign a deal for $50M a year when that one runs out.

The scenario painted there is an interesting one, and might have allowed Mahomes to reset the quarterback market twice in a decade… but we’ll never know. For more from Spielberger, including how the Mahomes deal impacts the Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson negotiations and what the Bears’ offseason moves tell him about the mindset of Ryan Pace’s front office, listen to the most recent edition of the Under Center podcast here or below.

Why Bears TE Cole Kmet’s potential reminds Chris Simms of Rob Gronkowski

Why Bears TE Cole Kmet’s potential reminds Chris Simms of Rob Gronkowski

Cole Kmet’s draft night was incredibly special for him and his family, as Ryan Pace brought the Arlington Heights native back home to play for his beloved Bears. Pace, of course, is hoping that Kmet can be part of the solution to the troubled tight end position, which has been a mostly-unproductive revolving door during his time as GM.

Every pick of the draft is met with plenty of analysis online and on social media, and the Kmet selection was no different. However, this tweet from NBC Sports’ Chris Simms stood out in the moments following the Bears picking Kmet 43rd overall:


 
Lofty comparisons are not uncommon on draft night; plenty of highly-drafted tight ends in recent years have been compared to Gronk, but no one has truly been able to live up to it (Adam Shaheen, anyone?). However, as Simms explained to JJ Stankevitz on the Under Center podcast, there’s a bit more nuance to the comparison that 280 characters doesn’t leave space for on Twitter.

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“Yeah, I compared him to Rob Gronkowski, and Rob Gronkowski is the greatest tight end of all time,” Simms said. “But I’m just trying to paint a picture for people out there; I’m not saying this kid’s going to be that, but he’s got big-time potential is what I am saying.

“I think the Bears need to find that physicality aspect of their offense, and Kmet will be a great advantage not only in the run game, but once teams start worrying about the run game, that’s where the tight end like a Rob Gronkowski in New England gets behind the linebackers and splits the safeties in the middle of the field.

“Cole Kmet is going to be a tremendous red zone target; he is a mismatch nightmare, and I think you’ll be able to do a lot of the same things Kansas City does with Travis Kelce, or Gronkowski and what the Patriots did with him, except he’s a better blocker than Travis Kelce.

“I am very excited about Cole Kmet. I think the Bears really got two first-rounders with their two second-round picks, and that excites me as far as that’s concerned.”

Simms isn’t making a flippant comparison, either; he knows the former Irish tight end better than most due to his work as an analyst for Notre Dame football on NBC over the last two years, and local product from St. Viator stood out for all the right reasons.
 
“He’s one of the more impressive players, in general, that I’ve seen on the field, whether it was on Notre Dame or one of their opponents, in college football. To be that size, 6’5”, 260 pounds, and be able to move the way he moves, there are not a lot of people on Planet Earth that are that gifted and athletic.

“Fluid route-runner, fearless over the middle with people around him, really good run-blocker in the run game, and he’s been playing baseball the last few years in the spring, so he hasn’t even gone all-in on football yet, nor do I think he’s done growing and filling out.”


The Bears certainly hope focusing on football full-time will have a positive effect on Kmet’s developmental arc, as tight ends coach Clancy Barone told reporters in a Zoom session last week. After all, the revolving door has to stop at some point - and if Kmet is able to develop into a star tight end, the 43rd pick will have been a small price to pay.

RELATED: Chris Simms explains why Bears should lean on their defense in 2020

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Chris Simms explains why Bears should lean on their defense in 2020

Chris Simms explains why Bears should lean on their defense in 2020

In many ways, the Bears’ 2019 season was everything 2018 was not. Injuries to key players hurt the team throughout the year, a tough midseason schedule did them no favors, and the offense took a massive step backward. One constant, though, was the steady performance of the defense. Despite their turnovers and sacks leveling off from the highs of 2018, the unit gave up just 18.6 points per game, good for 4th in the entire league. That the team finished .500 and was alive in the playoff hunt into December speaks volumes about Chuck Pagano’s group, and NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms thinks Matt Nagy and his offense could benefit from leaning on that elite unit in the upcoming season.

“They gotta play through their defense, I think that’s where they messed up last year... your defense is going to be able to win you a number of games. There’s nothing not to like about the Bears defense. It’s arguably the best front seven in football. The secondary, I think, is a pretty damn good group as well. But last year, when you’re throwing the ball and your offense is off the field every three plays, I don’t give a damn who your defense is. You can bring back the ‘85 Bears, if they have to go out there every 4th play, they’re eventually going to wear down, and I think that’s what happened to the Bears defense later in the year last year; it just was too much on them on a weekly basis. So I think the offense and Matt Nagy need to figure out a formula that works for the team, not necessarily just what looks good on paper and stats for the offense.”

The formula Simms speaks of is not unfamiliar to Bears fans. A solid-not-spectacular offense supporting a great defense could be the description of many successful Bears teams over the years. However, the offense did not hold up their end of the bargain in 2019 to say the least, and the team missed the playoffs in disappointing fashion. That being said, Simms sees reasons for optimism heading into 2020, and points to the league’s final four from the 2018 season as proof that a team can win without a superstar QB if there's a great foundation around them.

I think to be successful in football, you want to build your team first… you can certainly make it happen with less than a franchise-type quarterback. Let’s not forget, three years ago we had Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, and Nick Foles in the final four of football competing against Tom Brady. You know why they were there? Not because they’re good or better than Tom Brady or franchise quarterbacks, but their team was really good around them. The Bears unfortunately don’t have that franchise guy. I’m not counting the Bears out of the mix in 2020, there’s still some things to really like if they can play and apply the right formula on the field in 2020.

Of course, Simms picked Nick Foles as his winner of the upcoming QB competition, and if the Super Bowl LII MVP can re-capture some of that magic, who knows where he might take the Bears in 2020.