The largest contract in the history of American professional sports is getting a tweak.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is due a $21.7 million roster bonus this season that will be converted into a signing bonus, according to ESPN.
What’s the difference? There’s no delay in the immediate cash flow for Mahomes, but it provides an accounting break for the salary-cap-strapped Chiefs, who already had to release their starting two offensive tackles earlier this week.
For salary-cap management, signing bonuses can be equally spread over as many as five years. Roster bonuses count all in a given year’s salary cap.
So, the conversion should save the Chiefs about $17 million in cap space. Every little bit helps for most teams in 2021, as they try to adjust to getting under the $182.5 million threshold by Monday, after it decreased from $198 million in 2020 because of lost revenues stemming from COVID-19.
The other starting quarterback from Super Bowl 55, Tom Brady, also helped his team manage the cap Friday by signing a four-year extension with “voidable years” that essentially acts as a one-year extension keeping him in Tampa Bay through 2022.
Mahomes signed a record-setting 10-year, $450 million extension last July that pushed his total contract at the time to 12 years and $503 million through 2031. The contract is unique in terms of length – most quarterbacks sign four- or five-year extensions – and structure, as it is heavily reliant on roster bonuses to make up for salaries at $10 million or less annually until 2028.