If you want to make a championship list in the NFL, you will almost certainly have to spend a lot of money getting players through free agency or trading that will hopefully bring your team over the hill at some point. However, sometimes teams give players more money than they are likely to make in the heat of the moment because they are so determined to add talent and add it sooner rather than later.
When teams do this, it can either pay off or hinder the team for years to come. In the case of the KC Chiefs, they managed to win a Super Bowl despite paying big bucks to players like Anthony Hitchens, Sammy Watkins, Frank Clark, etc., and these three are what most fans think of when asked who on the Chiefs has / had a bad contract. Sure, these players competed at different points, but they weren’t all elite. Regardless, does a Super Bowl win – or even an appearance – excuse a bad team contract?
Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than a simple yes or no.
Chiefs fans can easily confirm this question now, having seen their team fall short while getting so close in both 2018 and 2020. In each of these seasons, you can refer to a big money player who failed to deliver the order value. Anthony Hitchens and Sammy Watkins were among the highest paid in their positions when Kansas City first signed them ahead of the 2018 season, and we all know how that year ended. The following off-season, the Chiefs paid Frank Clark over $ 100 million to bolster the defense in hopes of winning a Super Bowl, and the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV.
Does a Super Bowl win over a team’s bad contracts?
So that answers the question, doesn’t it? Because the team made it a championship, shouldn’t the contracts matter? Well, it depends on whether you’re a fan of instant safety or longevity in competition. Would you rather have your team go all-in when you know they can win a Super Bowl, or would you play it more safely so you can compete for multiple Super Bowls over a period of time?
Most fans don’t care how the money is distributed as long as the team wins a Super Bowl. Most of them are already happy for Chiefs fans because they got to see Super Bowl LIV. However, it is not the same for everyone. If you are someone who expects more from the team (and you should) then you are probably quite frustrated with some of the bad contracts that hinder the team’s financial flexibility going forward.
For example, the Chiefs didn’t win the Super Bowl this year, and Watkins, Hitchens and Clark all had significant sums of money last season. In this case, it is fair to say that if those funds were distributed in such a way that the Chiefs could have fixed other weaknesses like offensive line, linebacker, etc., then one could literally argue that those contracts cost the team a Super Bowl.
Yes, the same players won in 2019, but they also lost in 2020, taking up a large portion of the Chiefs’ cap space in the process. In addition, these players are not only committed to one year of profit. They are signed for several years in a row and are expected to deliver their value every season. Do you think the Chiefs signed Patrick Mahomes for a 10 year extension in hopes of just winning a Super Bowl or two?
We also need to separate what it means to make a Super Bowl versus actually winning. Personally, I’m on board with those who say “If you’re not the first, you’re the last”. A bad contract is definitely not going to be awarded if you’re just doing a Super Bowl, as we mentioned for the Chiefs back in 2019 against 2020. It’s easier for Chiefs fans to say the contracts are gone since they’ve already won one, but how do you think LA Rams fans feel after making it in 2018 and then Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and then Jalen handed a lot of money? Ramsey and others just to never make it back? It can be quite frustrating for a fan.
Still, it really only depends on what makes you happy as a fan. If you really don’t care who gets paid what, while the team is still doing what you expect, then great, but some of us would love to keep winning and keep winning big. With the Chiefs, you have Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Tyrant Mathieu etc and the fans know that anything but a Super Bowl is a disappointment. With the team currently being forced to make room for a decreased cap, the pressure is on players with large contracts to deliver what their large-cap hit requires.