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Can you still win the Super Bowl after paying your QB? We dove into the data to find out the details and whether this Mahomes deal will hurt the Texans and Cowboys!

Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson paying qb super bowl
NBC Sports

Earlier this week I dove into the Patrick Mahomes contract and broke down how it lines up against a conservative cap projection. I estimated that over the lifetime of the deal Mahomes would account for 17% of the Chiefs projected salary cap going forward.

I decided to see how that stacks up against QB’s who have won a Super Bowl, to see how this might impact on the Chiefs going forward. TLDR version: Chiefs should probably savour that Super Bowl because it’s going to be hard to get back to one once this new deal kicks in.

So, for this analysis I went as far back as 2004 (2010 is omitted as that was an uncapped year) for player salaries, I used Over The Cap and Spotrac

The big thing that stands out is that only one QB has made it to a Super Bowl when his salary has accounted for greater than 17% of the team’s cap, Peyton Manning in 2009 when he lost to Drew Brees and New Orleans.

From the 15 Super Bowls that I included in 66% of the winning QB’s had a cap percentage under 10%. The QB with the highest cap allocation to win a Super Bowl was Tom Brady in 2018 with 12.2% and the lowest was Russell Wilson in 2013 with 0.5%. Interestingly the QB with the higher cap percentage won 53% of the time in the Super Bowl matchup.

The average cap percentage taken up by the winning QB’s was 7.44% and for the losing QB’s it was 7.78%. The breakdown is below so you can see for yourself.

Year: 2004 Winning QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 6.3% Losing QB: Donovan McNabb Cap %: 9.8

Year: 2005 Winning QB: Ben Roethlisberger Cap %: 4.9% Losing QB: Matt Hasselbeck Cap %: 7.32%

Year: 2006 Winning QB: Peyton Manning Cap %: 10.4% Losing QB: Rex Grossman Cap %: 0.6%

Year: 2007 Winning QB: Eli Manning Cap %: 9.2% Losing QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 6.7%

Year: 2008 Winning QB: Ben Roethlisberger Cap %: 6.9% Losing QB: Kurt Warner Cap %: 5.2%

Year: 2009 Winning QB: Drew Brees Cap %: 8.7% Losing QB: Peyton Manning Cap %: 17.2%

Year: 2011 Winning QB: Eli Manning Cap %: 11.7% Losing QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 11%

Year: 2012 Winning QB: Joe Flacco Cap %: 6.6% Losing QB: Colin Kaepernick Cap %: 1%

Year: 2013 Winning QB: Russell Wilson Cap %: 0.5% Losing QB: Peyton Manning Cap %: 12.5%

Year: 2014 Winning QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 10.6% Losing QB: Russell Wilson Cap %: 0.6%

Year: 2015 Winning QB: Peyton Manning Cap %: 11.7% Losing QB: Cam Newton Cap %: 8.7%

Year: 2016 Winning QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 8.6% Losing QB: Matt Ryan Cap %: 15%

Year: 2017 Winning QB: Nick Foles Cap %: 0.9% Losing QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 8.3%

Year: 2018 Winning QB: Tom Brady Cap %: 12.2% Losing QB: Jared Goff Cap %: 4.2%

Year: 2019 Winning QB: Patrick Mahomes Cap %: 2.4% Losing QB: Jimmy Garoppolo Cap %: 8.6%

I don’t think what I am illustrating is all that revealing, and I think it confirms what a lot of you probably think already. Building a successful team in the NFL is hard. If a team finds success, you will inevitably be faced with what Pat Riley labelled the disease of more. As he describes it “The most difficult thing for players to do when they become part of a team is to sacrifice. It is much easier, and much more natural, to be selfish.” When an athletic team achieves success, the quest for “more” shifts from championships to other pursuits – more money, more limelight, more playing time, more recognition, and so on.”

The Chiefs now face this conundrum with many of their star players, they will need to decide what to do with both Hill and Kelce going forward. With Mahomes occupying that much cap, roster-building is going to get much harder. I could see a situation in which Kansas City become the Peyton Manning era Colts from the mid-2000s. They will be exciting to watch but ultimately come undone in the playoffs due to the lack of quality depth. One area this team will have to suffer and it’s something the Chiefs decision-makers will have to weigh up, do you sacrifice on the defence to keep Mahomes surrounded by the weapons he has? Or do you let someone like Hill walk and hope you can replace him in the draft? This is surely something that will be weighing on the minds of Texans and Cowboys decision-makers with both Dak and Deshaun deals soon up as well.

In 2020 Mahomes will still only account for 2.2% of the cap so the window is still open, but it is closing

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