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.
The Chicago Bears have a lot of strong bounce-back candidates entering the 2020 season. Mitch Trubisky immediately comes to mind, as does Khalil Mack, whose streak of double-digit sack seasons ended at four last year.
Perhaps no player needs a bigger bounceback than running back Tarik Cohen, the pass-catching dynamo who was anything but in 2019. Cohen ended the season with a career-high 79 receptions but flipped them into just 456 yards. His 5.8 yards per catch was by far the lowest average of his career and has led to questions about whether he can truly be an offensive weapon in the NFL.
Cohen is in a contract year, so of course, he needs to boost his stock by proving he can flip the field anytime he touches the ball. According to ESPN, he's the most likely candidate to be that bounce-back player for the Bears this season.
After being one of the most dynamic receiving backs in the NFL in 2017 and 2018, Cohen took a big step backward in his third season. Combining 2017 and 2018, he ranked behind only Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in PFF receiving grade. Last season, however, he ranked 24th of 32 running backs who saw at least 40 targets. He dropped more passes, broke tackles at a lower rate and produced significantly fewer explosive plays. It was completely uncharacteristic based on what we saw from him in his first two years in the NFL, so it would be a surprise not to see him bounce back in some capacity in 2020.
The Bears are set up for Cohen to succeed in 2020. Only David Montgomery is slotted ahead of him on the running back depth chart, and Montgomery's skill set doesn't really conflict with the role Cohen plays anyway. In fact, Chicago could use Cohen and Montgomery at the same time, with Cohen lining up in the slot and playing more receiver than running back.
Regardless of how he's used, the expectations for Cohen to have a statistical resurgence are fair. His 2018 season, when he ran for 444 yards and added 725 more through the air (with eight total touchdowns), is more in-line with what we should see from him in 2020.
On Monday morning, Bears' safety Eddie Jackson went on Good Morning Football and single-handedly blew up every single identical roster projection that are appearing on the internet these days:
There's even a tiny bit of precedent here! Jackson played receiver in high school, and has actually already appeared on that side of the ball for the Bears a few times back in 2018. He's also very clearly one of the team's best playmakers. Defensive players getting offensive snaps has all the exhilaration of position players pitching, without any of the unspoken condescension. He also scores like, 75% of the time he touches the ball (honestly, it's more fun for you if you don't bother fact checking this) and after 2019's offensive performance, beggars can't be choosers. Let Eddie Jackson play offense. Let Akiem Hicks play offense. Let Khalil Mack punt the ball if Khalil Mack wants to punt the ball. It's fun and it makes things exciting and positions are stupid.
For what it's worth, it already sounds like Jackson and Nagy are on the same page about all of this:
Who's against this idea? Seriously. Remember 2018? Santa's Sleigh! Oompa Loompa! Chumbawamba! We could have that again. We could have it all.