Last year it was the one word that Patrick Mahomes didn’t want to say just yet.
“I’m not going to say dynasty yet,” Mahomes said. “Because we’re not done.”
How about now? How about after Mahomes, in just his sixth year as an NFL starter, led the Kansas City Chiefs to their third Super Bowl title?
Again, Mahomes was hesitant — although he did seem a bit more receptive to the idea.
“It’s the start (of a dynasty),” he told Tracy Wolfson of CBS, with an important qualifier.
“We’re not done,” the now three-time Super Bowl MVP warned.
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It is a frightening prospect for the rest of the NFL considering the Chiefs have now won three of the past five Super Bowls and only missed the post-season finale once in that period.
And it is also very much in the realm of possibilities when you have No. 13 as your quarterback.
While Mahomes did end up throwing an interception in Monday’s 25-22 overtime win over the 49ers he was otherwise unblemished through the post-season — a common theme for the 28-year-old over recent years.
In fact, as Robert Mays pointed out on a recent episode of The Athletic Football Show, Mahomes had been on a historic tear in the playoffs since his first year in the NFL.
During 17 playoff games, Mahomes had a 67.4 per cent completion rate, 4,802 yards, 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a .23 EPA (expected points added) per dropback.
What made those numbers even more impressive, of course, is the fact they came against what have been theoretically some of the best defences in football.
Fans found legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman’s tweet from 2019 when he quipped “Talk to me when when he has 33% of my Super Bowl Titles” in response to a stat that Mahomes had thrown 36 per cent of Troy Aikman career touchdowns, in about 8 per cent of the games.
Aikman and Mahomes are now tied on three Super Bowl wins and the 57-year-old ate humble pie after Kansas City’s latest triumph, praising Mahomes.
“It’s staggering,” Mays said at the time.
“It’s probably the best six-year run that anyone has ever had in the history of the sport when you include the post-season and it’s his first six years in the NFL. We’re running out of superlatives for the guy.”
What makes this Super Bowl victory particularly special though is the state of the receiving corps that Mahomes had to work with.
Admittedly, Mahomes also has never had a defence this good either and so as much as this was yet another reminder of his greatness it was also a defining season for defensive coordinator Stephen Spagnuolo, whose ability to disguise looks was unparalleled.
But Mahomes’ growth and maturity as a passer, taking what the defence gives him and not forcing balls even as his receivers struggled to gain consistent separation, helped keep the Chiefs offence rolling.
Even on Monday, as the 49ers held a 3-0 advantage after outgaining the Chiefs 125 to 16 and recording seven first downs to just one, Mahomes never panicked.
There was one errant pass that resulted in an interception and yet, you never felt as if Mahomes was ever at risk of throwing away that game. And he didn’t. He won it instead.
As Mays put it, the “terrifying” reality for the rest of the NFL is as good as Mahomes already is, this is still not a true reflection of what his ceiling could look like.
It is just the start, as Mahomes would put it.
“… You have this guy who was a physical phenom throwing to two physical phenoms during the first act of his career and now as he’s entered the second act and he’s moving into his prime and the mental side of it is becoming more and more honed, he becomes even more terrifying,” Mays added.
“Now you’re getting to this place that Brady, Brees and Manning were in when they got six, seven, eight years into their careers and they weren’t as physically talented as this guy is. So, we are dealing with a truly scary proposition with him and this team moving forward.”
Again, as long as Mahomes is always the quarterback this year’s Super Bowl triumph proved that you can never count the Chiefs out of making it three straight championships next season.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be even more difficult though as Kansas City braces for a critical free agency period which could see it lose two key defensive weapons.
All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, who was also a strong contender for Super Bowl MVP on Monday, is set to hit free agency along with star cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.
The Chiefs found themselves facing a similar dilemma at the end of last season, eventually losing six starters including Orlando Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Frank Clark to free agency.
Jones had held out for a new contract in the early stages of last season, missing training camp and the first regular-season game in a bid to have his demands met.
There was no extension but the two parties came to a compromise as Jones signed a one-year, $19.5 million contract in September that included incentives.
The contract also gave Kansas City the option to franchise tag Jones, with that figure expected to be at around $32.2 million according to Sporting News.
It is a tricky balancing act for a Kansas City team that is also desperate to keep lockdown cornerback Sneed, who was matched up against an opposition’s top receiver for the majority of the season.
Speaking to ESPN earlier in the week, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach described the pair as “keystone players” that would be priority targets to re-sign ahead of the new season.
“Sometimes I look at our situation and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ but we usually work through things systematically and have a list of the priorities,” Veach said.
“Certainly, Chris and LJ are at the top of the list. It’s extremely hard because you have two keystone players there.”
Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reported ahead of the Super Bowl that Kansas City could look to restructure Mahomes’ contract in a bid to open up much-needed funds, with the Chiefs quarterback carrying a cap hit of at least $59.8 million.
“No matter what the number is, though, the Chiefs are certain to get Mahomes’ cap number lower for 2024 by the start of the new league year in March,” Jones wrote.
“A simple contract restructure would save the team roughly $37 million in cap space, and Mahomes would have a cap hit in 2024 in the low 20s.”
That in turn would definitely help put Kansas City in a better position to try re-sign Sneed or Jones and potentially even target a more established receiver to ease the pressure on Mahomes.
Other notable free agents include safety Justin Reid, linebackers Willie Gay Jr. and Drue Tranquill along with pass rusher Charles Omenihu.
Of course, attention also will turn to coach Andy Reid and speculation he could finally call time on his accomplished career in the NFL. But Chiefs owner Clark Hunt doesn’t expect that to happen this summer.
“I expect Andy to be back next year as we go for the three-peat,” he told NFL Network’s James Palmer after Super Bowl LVIII.
As for his pitch to Reid if he is indeed considering stepping away, as is always the case with the Kansas City Chiefs, everything starts and ends with No. 13.
“My pitch to him is Patrick is under contract for eight years,” Hunt laughed.
And while he may have been joking, it really is the best selling point the Chiefs have, not just for Reid but for any current or future Kansas City players ahead of another pivotal summer.
As long as Mahomes is the quarterback, winning is always a possibility.
Originally published as Mahomes’ three-word warning to NFL as legend’s old tweet backfires