Patrick Mahomes missed a golden opportunity to beat Tom Brady in Super Bowl LV and further cement his own career trajectory as the greatest player to ever suit up on a football field. Despite Mahomes' unsuccessful effort to dethrone Brady in Raymond James Stadium, the Kansas City QB did take a page out of Brady's playbook that helped solidify Brady's GOAT status over the past two decades.
In an unsurprising move -- one that even the casual salary cap observer should have seen coming -- Mahomes restructured his deal to convert a $21.7 million roster bonus into a signing bonus. This saved Kansas City $17.4 million in salary cap space, a much-needed step to get the Chiefs under the salary cap and ensure the franchise's ability to make moves in free agency next week.
The Chiefs are under the salary cap by $13.02 million (per numbers calculated by Over The Cap), thanks to Mahomes converting his roster bonus into a signing bonus. When Mahomes signed his 10-year, $450 million extension last offseason, the Chiefs quarterback set up the contract where he could turn a roster bonus into a signing bonus every offseason -- saving Kansas City a significant amount of salary cap space so general manager Brett Veach can keep the core of the back-to-back AFC championship roster intact.
This season won't be the last time Mahomes agrees to restructure his deal over the life of the contract. His 2022 roster bonus of $27.4 million is already guaranteed (which occurred when he signed his extension), meaning the Chiefs can save approximately $22 million in salary cap space when the Mahomes restructure is filed to the league. Kansas City will already have a significant amount of cap space freed up for 2022 (with even more coming due to the revenue from the upcoming television contracts kicking in). The restructure will make the Chiefs major players in free agency and allow the front office -- and Mahomes -- to recruit star players to become part of a roster that is tied for the most wins in the NFL over the past three years.
Mahomes has a clause in his contract that his 2023 salary and bonuses become guaranteed on the third day of the 2021 league year. On the third day of the 2022 league year, his 2024 salary and bonuses become guaranteed and his 2025 roster bonus of $38.9 million becomes guaranteed on the third day of the 2023 league year. After an "off year" in 2024, Mahomes' roster bonus in all subsequent years becomes official on the third day of the previous league year (2026 roster bonus official in 2025 league year, etc.), which will occur throughout the remainder of his contract.
The Chiefs can save significant amounts of cap space just by restructuring the roster bonus and turning it into a signing bonus every season. Just take a look at Mahomes' roster bonuses every year in a contract that lasts until the 2031 season.
|Mahomes' Contract Year||2021||2022||2023||2024||2025||2026|
|Mahomes' Contract Year||2027||2028||2029||2030||2031|
There's a significant amount of salary cap space to be saved by converting those roster bonuses, giving the Chiefs every opportunity to build around Mahomes while he carries the richest contract in NFL history. Kansas City needs to improve its offensive line this offseason following the release of Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz -- and has an excellent chance to become a player in a suddenly wide-open offensive line market thanks to the many releases around the league as teams are trying to get under the $182.5 million salary cap. Thank Mahomes for making sure he remains upright in 2021.
Mahomes and the Chiefs structured his record-setting contract this way so the franchise can compete for Super Bowls over the life of the deal. This contract won't hinder the Chiefs with the yearly restructures anchored by Mahomes as they will continue to get excellent players on their roster with their superstar quarterback.
Get used to the restructures and the Chiefs winning year after year. This strategy of contract reworking helped Brady win seven Super Bowls -- and will help Mahomes win multiple championships in the years to come.