Did Bears passing on Patrick Mahomes kick-start the next NFL dynasty?
The Bears’ failure to draft Mahomes in 2017 torpedoed their Super Bowl chances. The rest of the league soon might be able to say the same.
The Bears’ failure to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes in 2017 torpedoed their Super Bowl chances.
The rest of the league soon might be able to say the same.
If Mahomes can lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory Sunday against the Buccaneers, he will leave Raymond James Stadium as the centerpiece of an NFL dynasty.
The Chiefs would become the first repeat Super Bowl champion in 16 years. They would be winners of 26 of their last 28 games. And Mahomes would improve his career record, including the postseason, to 45-9.
What team on the planet could challenge that?
The Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky No. 2 overall in 2017, allowing Mahomes to fall to the Chiefs at No. 10 and Deshaun Watson to the Texans at No. 12. Mahomes spent a year learning under starter Alex Smith and then-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, now the Bears’ coach.
In three full seasons as the starter, Mahomes has been to two Super Bowls and three AFC Championship Games. Were it not for former Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford’s right hand — which stretches 10¼ inches from the tip of his thumb to the edge of his pinkie — the Chiefs would be playing in their third consecutive Super Bowl.
Two years ago, Ford was called for lining up with his hand offside when the Chiefs, ahead by four, intercepted then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with 55 seconds left. The interception didn’t count, and Brady marched the Patriots to a touchdown and a Super Bowl berth.
On Sunday, Brady returns to the Super Bowl — this time with the Bucs — to try for his seventh title. Mahomes, with a straight face, can shoot for more.
‘‘The thing I’m most proud of is that no one has become satisfied,’’ Mahomes said last week. ‘‘No one has become happy with winning one Super Bowl championship. Everybody’s trying to make themselves better every single day and not trying to take a day for granted.
‘‘You don’t have that in every single organization, in every single locker room.’’
Mahomes made the dynasty possible off the field, too. When he signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension last summer, he didn’t saddle the Chiefs with crippling salary-cap figures right away. His cap hit was $5.3 million this season — about $1.3 million less than that of Bears backup quarterback Nick Foles. It will be $24.8 million next season — about $3 million less than quarterback Jared Goff will cost the Lions.
General manager Brett Veach — one of Nagy’s best friends — crafted the roster around Mahomes. In April, he used his first-round pick on LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a weapon that must make Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — whose franchise won’t give him draft-day weapons — salivate. Veach traded Ford to the 49ers two years ago and weeks later filled the void by trading for Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark. He extended the contracts of tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill, as dynamic a receiving duo as exists in the NFL.
But nothing comes close to Veach and coach Andy Reid picking Mahomes.
‘‘The drafting of Pat was huge,’’ Hill said. ‘‘Obviously, we all love Alex Smith. He was a great player; he was a great role model and a great leader for this team. But, you know, things change, years change, environments change, coaches change.
‘‘Drafting Pat was the right thing, just for the dynamic of this team. . . . Drafting Pat really helped us all. He really elevated our game a lot.’’
The rest of the NFL stands to be left in his wake.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones, who has 38½ sacks in the last four seasons, predicted a Chiefs dynasty after their playoff loss to the Patriots.
‘‘I guess now it’s coming to fruition,’’ he said. ‘‘It comes with time. It comes with winning.’’