I know what you’re thinking. We just signed the best quarterback in the NFL to a 10 year deal and I’m talking about tanking? Yes I am, kind of.
Now look, I’m not talking about trading away literally everybody and trying for a high draft pick like people usually think of when they hear the word “tank”. Mahomes is simply too good for that to be a realistic possibility. But we certainly could plan for a relatively down year that allows us to lay a foundation to load up on talent for the next several years afterwards.
I’ll explain how this works, but first here’s the cap hit for Mahomes under his new contract.
|Year||Cap Hit (Millions $)|
Notice anything? 2023 will be an unusually high cap hit year, being the highest hit until 2027. That peak becomes even larger when you think in terms of percentage of the cap. Since the cap always goes up, his cap hit in 2024, 2025, and 26 will be far below that of 2023. That means it will be much easier to surround him with talent those years than it will in 2023.
But since this is so far in the future, we have an incredible ability to plan around it. The only players who are currently under contract for 2023 besides Mahomes are Frank Clark and Harrison Butker, and even then both of them are very tradable at that point. At this point the 2023 roster is Mahomes and a completely blank slate. We can do whatever we want in 2023. So from this point forward, why not use 2023 as a year to dump cap hits for any big contracts we sign?
Take Chris Jones for example. I’ve been on the bandwagon to trade him for a while, as giving him a big contract would severely limit our ability to fill in the rest of the team. But what if we structure his cap hit so that the biggest hit happens in 2023? Then it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, we could easily work around it in 2021 and 2022 without having to make many sacrifices.
Or let’s say Juan Thornhill turns into a star player who demands a big contract after his rookie deal ends. No problem, stuff the big money into 2023 and afterwards he will have a great team-friendly contract.
With all these big cap hits in 2023 we’d have to go bargain hunting to fill in the rest of the roster that season, but in the 2024 offseason we would have an enormous amount of cap space that could allow us to build a team that laps the field over the next several years. Using this strategy the Chiefs wouldn’t just be a Super Bowl contender, they would be the Super Bowl contender every other year from 2020 to 2026. We could very easily win 3-4 Super Bowls in those 6 seasons by taking 2023 off.
If we don’t do this strategy then other teams with quarterbacks on rookie deals would have a chance to be as good as us, and that’s unacceptable.