On Tuesday, the Kansas City Chiefs locked up Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones on a four-year, $85 million contract with $60 million in total guarantees. And today, I'm locking up a guarantee of my own:
The Chiefs are repeating as Super Bowl champions.
Congrats to Andy Reid and Chiefs Kingdom. Can't wait for another parade through downtown Kansas City in February of 2021. Patty Mahomes, getcha beer-catching hand ready.
Hyperbole? Hardly. The champs won July. Owned it. Crushed it. Solidified their standing atop any and all power rankings. Cemented their status as the team to beat, likely for years to come. At this moment, picking any other squad to win Super Bowl LV is contrarian cuteness.
It's important to start with the 450 Million Dollar Man. Or is he the 503 Million Dollar Man? Whatever you want to call him, Patrick Mahomes just signed the richest contract in the history of American team sports. He's the best player at the game's most important position. He's the best player in the NFL. He's the best player -- the best show -- in sports today. Not to mention, Mahomes is the epitome of class and leadership, on and off the field. You hand him that cash without a second thought. And here's something the rest of the NFL doesn't want to think about:
Mahomes is only getting started.
Still just 24 years old, Mahomes has been an NFL starter for two seasons. In Year 1, he ran away with league MVP honors after becoming just the second quarterback to hit 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards passing, joining Peyton Manning. In Year 2, he was named Super Bowl MVP after leading the Chiefs on three fourth-quarter touchdown drives against the 49ers' vaunted defense. And there's still plenty of room for growth, which is staggering, considering everything he's accomplished in just 36 NFL starts. (By the way, if Dee Ford hadn't lined up offsides in the 2018 AFC title game, Mahomes would already be a back-to-back champ.)
Mahomes' megadeal is also the rare pact that's a true win for the player, agent and team. Whatever Mahomes had received, there would've been a legit "He's still underpaid!" argument. The QB's that special. But his agent got him the biggest deal in American sports history, while also giving the Chiefs the financial flexibility to stay viable as a potential -- nay likely -- dynasty. Fair or unfair, the Mahomes-led team will be expected to annually contend for the Lombardi Trophy from now through 2031, the final year of the extension. Mahomes knows it. He embraces it. He wanted to stay in Kansas City forever and win like no other. And he can still make gobs of money off endorsements. A total win. Especially considering the contract doesn't hamstring the franchise when it comes to locking up other key components.
Enter Chris Jones.
After Mahomes, Jones is the next-most important player in Kansas City's title pursuits. You can argue he's the second-best player, though Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark might want a word. Or not. Jones has the stats -- with 31 sacks over the past three seasons, trailing only Aaron Donald among DTs in that span -- but it goes beyond that. The K.C. defense is just different when Jones is on the field. When he's hurt, you feel his absence. Jones missed four games last season, including the Divisional Round game vs. Houston. The Chiefs gave up 18.9 points per game with him ... and 24.8 without him. The guy is a certified game wrecker with a knack for coming up big in the biggest moments -- like in February's Super Bowl. Ask Jimmy Garoppolo about how frustrating it is when No. 95's batting down passes and forcing ill-advised throws. That's Chris Jones.
And that's why Jones' June tweet about pulling a Le'Veon Bell and sitting out the season if he didn't get an extension rattled Chiefs Kingdom. Personally, I never took the cheese on this stalemate potentially bleeding into the season. Because I trusted that Reid, GM Brett Veach and Co. would find a solution. They get it. And Jones got paid. It was a no-brainer.
With Jones setting the tone up front, Kansas City's defense is no liability. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo does a fine job coaching up the group, and his attacking scheme allows playmakers like Jones, Clark, Mathieu and safety Juan Thornhill to fly around making plays. It's an attacking defense that thrives while playing with a lead. Thus, it nicely complements the Chiefs' video-game offense.
Mahomes will continue to benefit and grow from the savvy guidance of Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. And of course, the QB's supporting cast is dreamy. You don't hear people talking about Kansas City's offensive line much, and that's not a bad thing: It's a solid unit that just quietly does its job. Meanwhile, the weaponry at Mahomes' disposal is almost unfair. With world-class speed all over K.C.'s attack, opposing defenses encounter a pick-your-poison nightmare. Hill is the biggest home-run hitter in football today, a terror you have to account for on every single snap. And keeping Sammy Watkins in the fold with a restructured contract was no small deal. On any given Sunday, the former first-round pick can take over a game. Just look at last year's postseason run, when Watkins racked up 288 yards over three games. And the receiver depth continues on to Mecole Hardman (a blazing playmaker who scored six touchdowns on just 26 catches as a rookie) and Demarcus Robinson (who had a 172-yard, two-touchdown game last September). Meanwhile, Travis Kelce is one of the two best tight ends in football, with five straight Pro Bowl bids under his belt. And if all that wasn't enough, the Chiefs spent a first-round pick on highly versatile running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. No wonder Reid recently said he's nowhere near retirement -- calling plays for this unit makes every day Christmas for the offensive guru.
Given how the COVID-19 pandemic has leveled typical offseason team activities -- and could do the same to training camp and the preseason -- pre-existing chemistry matters. Familiarity matters. Coaching matters. For the defending champs, every single box is checked.
Typically, when it comes to predicting NFL champs, picking one team over the field is a fool's errand. This is THE league of parity. No team's gone back-to-back since the New England Patriots in 2003 and '04. But the reigning champion Chiefs are doing everything right. And they're loaded. And they have the best player in sports. And a (future) Hall of Fame coach.
It's not really a hot take, because it's just so obvious: Kansas City's July fireworks will indeed lead to another title in February. And I cannot wait to watch the show.