Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the talk of the NFL this season. The first-year starter out of Texas Tech took over the starting job when Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins in the off-season. To say that Mahomes exceeded expectations in his first season at the helm for Kansas City would be quite the understatement as he lit the league on fire.
Mahomes became just the third quarterback ever to pass for fifty touchdowns in a season, the other two guys that did it are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, maybe you have heard of them. Mahomes also joined Manning as just the second signal-caller ever to throw for fifty touchdowns and five thousand yards in the same season. Any time that you are mentioned in the same breath as guys like Manning and Brady, you are in some elite company. And the fact that Mahomes did it in just his first year as a starter makes it all even more impressive.
Not only was Mahomes named to the Pro-Bowl, but he was also named first-team All-NFL. The rumor swirling around this week says that Mahomes is looking at getting a five-year contract extension worth a reported $200 million dollars. That would be the biggest contract in league history by a huge margin, both in total value and per year value. The current biggest contract in NFL history was the $150 million extension that Matt Ryan signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. And the highest per year value belongs to Aaron Rodgers who is getting $33 million a year from the Green Bay Packers. The Mahomes deal would dwarf both.
When you start throwing around numbers like $200 million and names like Brady and Manning, you have to take a step back and wonder, is this guy as good as we all think he is? What if I told you that at this point in his career Mahomes was overrated? In this article, I am going to break down the three main reasons that I think Patrick Mahomes is overrated and isn’t worth all that money. Let’s get started!
He Struggled When It Mattered
As good as Mahomes was this year, and he was jaw-droppingly good for most of the season, when it mattered most, he struggled. Let’s take a look at the Chiefs four regular-season losses and how Mahomes performed in each of them. The Chiefs lost their first game of the season way back in week six when the Chiefs went to Foxboro and played the New England Patriots. Mahomes threw two costly interceptions against the Patriots in the first half, and it cost the Chiefs as they were down 24-9 at halftime and could never quite dig out of that big hole. It was understandable for him to struggle as Bill Belichick is known for his ability to force young quarterbacks into big mistakes. Mahomes had a huge second half, and the Chiefs made a game out of it, but Mahomes looked human for the first time in his career as he had a 14-2 TD/interception ratio coming into the game.
That brings us to the Chiefs next loss, the week eleven loss to the Los Angeles Rams. This game was billed a potential Super Bowl preview as these were the two best teams in each respective conference at the time. And when you look at how the season ended up shaking out, that wasn’t far from the truth as both teams ended up playing in their conference title games. Its tough to be too hard on Mahomes for this one as he did throw for 478 yards and six, count ‘em six scores.
This loss falls firmly on his shoulders as had five turnovers. Including an interception with twenty-five seconds left on the clock that ended the game. Yeah, his stats were eye-popping in this one, but in the end, you can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.
The next loss for the Chiefs came just a couple of weeks later in week fourteen at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. People may have forgotten that this was a huge game for the Chiefs. All they had to do was win at home, and they would lock up the division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Instead, they lost the game and had to scramble late to win the division on a tiebreaker. Once again, when it mattered most, Mahomes struggled.
Against the Chargers, Mahomes passed for just 243 yards, his lowest total of the season. He also got sacked twice and fumbled. The second sack was a big one as it came on a crucial third down and resulted in the Chargers having a short field on the next possession. A possession they used to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
That brings us to week fifteen against the Seattle Seahawks. With the division title on the line, and the Chiefs badly in need of a victory, Mahomes once again failed to throw for 300 yards, and his team lost. Not throwing for at least 300 yards isn’t exactly a sin, but when you look at a season where Mahomes had thrown for 300 yards or more in ten of his first thirteen games before this one, it was an underwhelming performance.
We all saw what Mahomes was able to do in the playoffs against the New England Patriots. In the second half, he led his team to a big comeback and was able to send the game into overtime. But many of you might forget just how awful Mahomes was in the first half of the game. Mahomes hit the locker room with an abysmal four completions for just sixty-four yards and no touchdowns. It was the biggest game of his career by a wide margin, and Mahomes completely no-showed in the first half, and his team dug themselves into a hole they couldn’t completely dig out of.
His Production Fell Off Big After Kareem Hunt Was Suspended
Through the first eleven games of Patrick Mahomes career, he looked like the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. He threw for at least 300 yards in nine of those eleven games and had at least three touchdowns in eight of them, including four or more scores in six different games. The Chiefs were 9-2 and looking like the Super Bowl favorites in the AFC. Then the kick heard around the world happened and Kareem Hunt was kicked off of the team. I won’t go too far into what Hunt meant for this team, but he was coming off of a rookie season that saw him lead the NFL in rushing and had accumulated over 1200 all-purpose yards through eleven games.
The guy was a legit superstar and one of Mahomes biggest weapons. What makes the truly great quarterbacks so great is the fact that they can get the job done with any teammates you put beside them.
Manning, Brady, Brees, they rarely had consistent running games, and they seem to have a new group of receivers every year. But when Mahomes lost his big-time playmaker, his numbers took a nosedive. In the final seven games of the year without Hunt, including the playoffs, the Chiefs went 4-3, and Mahomes threw for 300 yards just one time.
Mahomes really struggled to stay upright as well as he was sacked fourteen times in those seven games. To put that in perspective, Mahomes was only sacked twelve times in the Chiefs first nine games. Once teams realized they didn’t have to defend against the run, Mahomes just wasn’t the same guy.
One Hit Wonder?
So, we saw what Mahomes can do when he is surrounded by weapons, and we saw what he can do when he gets to run up the score against bad teams in games that don’t matter all that much. And really, the results were quite staggering. This kid is surely talented and one of the more exciting players to enter the league in a long time. The question is, can he do it again? If you look back in NFL history, you will see all kinds of quarterbacks that had one amazing year, and then faded into obscurity.
Whether it is injury, coaching changes, team changes, or whatever the case may be, these quarterbacks never lived up to their hype after having a breakout season. Remember Derek Anderson in 2007? He was fifth in the league with 29 TD passes and top ten in passing yards with nearly four thousand yards. He has been mostly a career backup ever since. How about Steve Beuerlein for the Carolina Panthers in 1999? Beuerlein led the league in passing yards with over 4,400, besting Hall of Famer Kurt Warner at the height of the greatest show on turf St Louis Rams, while throwing thirty-six touchdowns. He was out of the league three years later.
Or how about maybe Robert Griffin III? He led the NFL in completion percentage as a rookie and looked like he would dominate the NFL for years to come. He didn’t. RG3 was out of the league within a couple of years and is just now making a return as a career backup. And the list goes on and on.
Yeah, the eye test tells us this guy just might be different from the busts of the past, but are we going to let one strong season turn this guy into the highest paid player in NFL history? I have seen this story play out before, and it tends to end badly. Now, if Mahomes can show me that he can play at an elite level in the games that matter the most, and that he doesn’t need to be surrounded by elite weapons at every skill position to succeed, which he had when he was playing his best (Travis Kelce at tight end, Tyreke Hill at wide out, and Kareem Hunt at running back) then maybe you start talking long-term deal for big money. But until then, it seems way too risky.
I like to get wrapped up in the hype of a young flashy new guy just like the rest of you, but the NFL is a business. And when you look at an investment of $200 million dollars in a guy that has one good year under his belt, that is speculative at best and reckless at worst. Three years from now I might consider him “worth” that type of money, but as of today? Yeah, I’m not buying it.