Patrick Mahomes was always going to get paid by the Kansas City Chiefs - just nobody knew quite how much.
Fresh from winning Super Bowl LIV, the quarterback had the leverage to ask for big, big money. He cashed in on his success too, signing a whopping 10-year extension on Monday that stunned the NFL.
The official details were not released by the Chiefs, yet the reported figures were eye-popping to say the least. Mahomes could reportedly stand to earn $503million in total, making it the largest contract in North American professional sports history. Even baseball players must be impressed.
With two years still remaining on his rookie deal, the 2018 MVP is tied to Kansas City through the 2031 season.
However, it could have been all so different for both the player and the franchise had the 2017 NFL Draft panned out differently. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was no doubt delighted to get the Texas Tech prospect with the 10th pick, but what if another franchise had stepped up sooner?
Here is a recap of a draft that could define the future for more than just the team that ended up taking Mahomes.
Good morning. pic.twitter.com/hTDsiByF7e — Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 7, 2020
The Cleveland Browns
The Browns had endured years of purgatory at the quarterback position going into the draft but they opted not to take mobile gunslinger Mahomes, whose stock had risen in the pre-draft process, at number one overall.
Their selection was not wasted, as Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett has lived up to expectations at the NFL level, but pursuing the QB route would have taken the franchise down a different path.
The Browns went for second-round pick DeShone Kizer under center instead, but the experiment did not work as they infamously recorded an 0-16 season.
That left coach Hue Jackson without much security going into the following campaign, where they did go QB at number one as Baker Mayfield was selected.
Jackson did not last long but the Browns were happy as Mayfield looked like an inspired pick after his rookie campaign. However, a concerning sophomore slump - even with a stellar supporting cast that included Odell Beckham - means the jury is still out in Cleveland.
Had the Browns selected Mahomes, it could have led Mayfield into the arms of the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals or Buffalo Bills. Still, maybe even the presence of this year's Super Bowl MVP may not have been enough to save the oft-criticised Jackson.
Also Read: Who is Patrick Mahomes' girlfriend?
The Chicago Bears
The Bears made a bizarre trade up to number two with the San Francisco 49ers to ensure they landed Mitchell Trubisky, a decision that looks like it has not paid off.
Trubisky helped the Bears to the playoffs with a Pro Bowl campaign in 2018 under Coach of the Year Matt Nagy, who worked with Mahomes in his rookie year while he was offensive coordinator with the Chiefs.
But a significant regression in 2019 meant the Bears traded for Nick Foles this offseason just three years on from the draft. Their choice in 2017 seems set to haunt them for years to come.
Here to stay. . pic.twitter.com/mfwMga3Kl0 — Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) July 6, 2020
Without Mahomes, it may have been the Chiefs scrambling around to trade for Foles, who once played for them, as a QB solution.
Mahomes could have been enough to keep John Fox in a job, while it is scary to think what he could have achieved in control of Nagy's system with the support of that incredible Bears defense in 2018, which was boosted by the trade for Khalil Mack.
A Super Bowl run would have been a realistic prospect and we may have been spared the tepid battle between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta.
The San Francisco 49ers
So what about the 49ers? It is they who present the most fascinating of hypothetical scenarios.
While the team has made some smart front-office moves over recent years, the selection of Solomon Thomas did not pan out as hoped. Had they opted for Mahomes, the mid-season trade for Jimmy Garoppolo with the Patriots does not happen.
If a suitable offer is not received, perhaps Bill Belichick gets his way and keeps Garoppolo around, an issue believed to be the source of so much contention between Tom Brady and the Patriots hierarchy.
That potentially forces Brady out the door two years earlier, where he would have found a much stronger free-agent market than he was greeted with in 2020 before landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady could have had the Browns, New York Giants, Jets, Bills and Cardinals circling.
The King of Chiefs Kingdom.@PatrickMahomes | @Chiefs pic.twitter.com/JDtx7Y72pB — NFL (@NFL) July 6, 2020
With Mahomes, the Niners' supporting cast likely means they end last year in the Super Bowl, which is exactly where Garoppolo took them, only to be harshly rewarded with an offseason of speculation over his future.
But maybe Mahomes was more likely to get them over the line, both last year and in the future. Had the 49ers taken the plunge, Andy Reid may still be searching for his legacy defining victory.
The Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles helped the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game in 2017, but he was never the long-term answer, even if that run did lead the team to hand him an extension.
He rode a historic defense that included Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler, and Calais Campbell, all of whom have since left, to the postseason. Telvin Smith, Myles Jack and wantaway pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue were also key pieces.
If Mahomes had been combined with that defense, it is hard to see how the Jaguars would not have gone all the way.
Even had they not, though, those key defensive stars would have been less inclined to leave and the AFC would have been running through Jacksonville, rather than Kansas City.
Playing two games a year in London would not be the current focus for a dominant franchise, but instead the Jags are left to ponder their selection of running back Leonard Fournette at number four.
Also Read: When was Mahomes picked in the draft?
Who else passed on Mahomes?
As well as Mahomes, Deshaun Watson was another signal-caller the top nine teams on the board opted against.
The Tennessee Titans' call to stick with Marcus Mariota, then entering his third year, ultimately did not pay off, but they are hoping Ryan Tannehill can take them to the promised land now.
In New York, Sam Darnold is yet to have a situation where he can be fairly judged for the Jets, while the Chargers are rebuilding in Los Angeles after letting Philip Rivers leave.
The same can be said for the Carolina Panthers, who are replacing Cam Newton with Teddy Bridgewater, though Newton was just one season removed from his MVP season at the time of the draft. Now, of course, New England is his home, potentially as Brady's replacement.
The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled in recent years but will hope Joe Burrow - selected with the first pick in this year's draft - can live up to the weight of expectation.
Trading out of number 10 was the Bills, whose current QB Josh Allen has a prove-it year ahead after the addition of receiver Stefon Diggs.