Brandt Tilis

Chiefs GM On Designing Patrick Mahomes’ Extension, Building Around Contract

Signing a 10-year Chiefs extension back in 2020, Patrick Mahomes is finishing up the first year of that pact. After playing the final two seasons of his rookie deal, the soon-to-be two-time MVP has seen the market surpass that landmark agreement already. No reports of Mahomes unrest while tied to a through-2031 contract have come out yet, and the Chiefs made some notable payroll adjustments this year.

The AFC champions traded Tyreek Hill, not long after beginning talks about a second extension, and let Tyrann Mathieu‘s $14MM-per-year contract expire without offering him another deal. Kansas City also reached a pay-cut agreement with Frank Clark. The team did not restructure Mahomes’ deal this offseason, letting the superstar passer’s cap number spike from $7.4MM in 2021 to $35.8MM in 2022.

In place of Hill, the Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. They later traded for Kadarius Toney, doing so after second-round pick Skyy Moore struggled to acclimate. Missing Hill’s unparalleled deep-threat capabilities, the Chiefs’ receiving corps has battled inconsistency this season. Mahomes and Travis Kelce have still kept the ship on course; the Chiefs ended the regular season first in offensive DVOA.

There’s a pressure of not wanting to let him down, or fail him,” Chiefs GM Brett Veach said of Mahomes (via’s Albert Breer). “He can play any type of football, so you feel like you have a little bit more of a window to work with, in regards to what you can bring in here. But at the same time, the expectations are so high, there’s the pressure of you can’t miss anything and you gotta do whatever you can.

And maybe you don’t have $30 million to throw at a wideout, but you better get good wideouts because you can’t provide him with nothing. So it’s a double-edged sword.”

The Chiefs raised the quarterback AAV ceiling by a staggering $10MM back in the summer of 2020, via Mahomes’ 10-year, $450MM extension. That $45MM-per-year figure has already dropped to fifth — behind Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson — and potential extensions for Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts all stand to come in ahead of Mahomes’ AAV. Mahomes’ deal also came with just $63MM fully guaranteed — well off the previous pace and now several levels down from Watson’s record-shattering $230MM sum — but innovative guarantee mechanisms exist that trigger annual bonuses two years out as long as he is on Kansas City’s roster.

Chiefs director of football administration Brandt Tilis researched baseball contracts due to their longevity, per Breer, and the Chiefs conveyed their unorthodox plan to their centerpiece player. Mahomes’ agents sought a fully guaranteed deal, a la MLB pacts. The sides compromised via the guarantee mechanisms. Mahomes’ 2024 money became locked in on Day 3 of this past league year. His 2025 roster bonus ($38.9MM) becomes guaranteed on March 17, 2023, offering intriguing security. Mahomes has also begun to cash in on incentives — via the Chiefs’ latest AFC championship incentive — and is almost certain to collect an MVP incentive tonight. Those figures add up to $2.5MM.

We couldn’t do that,” Tilis said, via Breer, of a guaranteed contract. “What we could do was what we ended up with, which is we’ll just guarantee everything a year out. And they followed the math and the cap numbers and the cash numbers and all that, and it was like, How are we ever going to be able to cut this guy? So, I mean, it’s practically over $400MM guaranteed.”

Josh Allen‘s six-year accord came closest to Mahomes’. Otherwise, QBs have stayed on course with four- or five-year contracts. It will be interesting to see how early the Chiefs would be willing to renegotiate with Mahomes. A nine-figure payment awaits in 2027, when his 2027 and 2028 salaries and 2028 bonus lock in on Day 3 of the ’27 league year. With that date four years away and the cap back on its regular climb, the quarterback market will look much different by that point.

In trading Hill, the Chiefs initially turned down the Jets’ offer of their No. 10 overall pick, Breer adds. The team preferred a package of picks, leading to the previously reported Jets offer that centered around their two second-round choices. The Dolphins’ offer of last year’s No. 29 overall pick, 2022 second and three other choices won out. With Mahomes’ cap hits rising, the Chiefs look to continue a more draft-centric approach compared to their late-2010s blueprint. Rookie-deal players comprise 11 spots in Kansas City’s lineup, with low-cost vets like Smith-Schuster and right tackle Andrew Wylie also in this updated equation.

When Pat had that unbelievable ’18 season and he’s on his rookie deal, you’re trading for Frank Clark and signing Tyrann Mathieu,” Veach said. “You’re hyper-aggressive because you know how talented this quarterback is, and you know he’s in a rookie window, and you know that, within these couple years, you have a chance to really take a big swing at the fences.

You’re still gonna have to have an aggressive plan [post-extension]. But that aggressive plan ain’t gonna be dropping a ton of money and trading a bunch of picks. That aggressive plan is gonna be the flip side. It’s gonna be not being afraid to move on from players and trying to aggressively acquire picks as opposed to aggressively trading them away and spending money.”

Vikings Begin GM Interview Requests

Likely set to hire an outside GM for the first time in over a decade, the Vikings have taken a bit more time to send out their interview requests. But they sent out their first summons Wednesday night.

Browns vice president of player personnel Glenn Cook received a Vikes interview request, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports tweets. Cook has landed on the radar of both the NFC North’s GM-seeking franchises, having interviewed for the Bears’ GM gig Wednesday.

In addition to Cook, the Vikings sent out requests to speak with Patriots senior consultant Eliot Wolf and fellow Browns staffer Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Tom Pelissero of tweets. Those two are also on Chicago’s interview list.

Previously in the Packers organization, Cook joined the Browns in 2016. Cook started in the scouting department and rose to the level of assistant pro scouting director, before climbing to his current post in 2020. The Browns were not exactly a sought-after organization for executive talent when Cook arrived, but they have seen multiple execs receive interview requests during this cycle. Both Minnesota’s other two early interview hopefuls worked in Cleveland, where longtime Vikings assistant Kevin Stefanski landed.

Prior to stays in Cleveland and New England, Wolf enjoyed a lengthy Green Bay tenure. The son of Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf, Eliot has been in the GM mix for a few years now. Yet to rise to a GM role, Wolf interviewed for the Packer job that went to Brian Gutekunst. He also was in the mix for the Colts’ GM post in 2017. The Browns’ vice president of football operations, Adofo-Mensah spent time with the 49ers before joining the Browns in 2020. He interviewed for the Panthers’ GM position last year.

The Vikings are seeking to replace Rick Spielman, who had been with the organization since 2006. In addition to the three requests sent out, Colts VP of player personnel Ed Dodds and Chiefs director of football administration Brandt Tillis are potential candidates,’s Courtney Cronin tweets.

Chiefs Promote Mike Borgonzi To Asst. GM

The Chiefs have promoted Mike Borgonzi to assistant GM, per a team press release. The club also elevated Brandt Tilis to Vice President of Football Operations and Ryan Poles to Executive Director of Player Personnel.

All three executives have been in the mix for GM jobs elsewhere. But, with Brett Veach installed as the Chiefs’ GM, that job won’t be available anytime soon.

The Panthers met with all three executives in this last cycle before ultimately landing on ex-Seahawks VP Scott Fitterer. It’s safe to say that they’ll garner consideration again in the 2022 cycle, but the Chiefs might be able to hang on to them for a while longer with these pay/title bumps.

Tilis has been a key cog in Chiefs contract matters since starting with them in 2010. Among his CV highlights: squeezing in extensions for Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, and Travis Kelce to keep one of the NFL’s strongest teams in tact. Poles, 36 in September, has served as the assistant player personnel director since May 2018.

2021 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

This year’s NFL GM carousel figures to be more active than usual. The Falcons, Lions, Panthers, Texans, and Jaguars are all on the hunt for a new front office leader. And that’s only the official list. The real tally shows six clubs looking for a GM, since the Washington Football Team is expected to install a GM to work alongside head coach Ron Rivera. By mid-January, we could easily see a couple more jobs opening up — that’d put ~25% of the NFL on the market.

We’ll keep track of the GM candidates for each club here, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make general manager changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here’s the current breakdown:

Updated 1-19-21 (7:02pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers 

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Washington Football Team

Panthers Conduct Five GM Interviews

The Panthers’ GM interview list is up to 11. Executives from four teams interviewed for the position over the past two days, with two Chiefs staffers being summoned for meetings.

Chiefs football administration director Brandt Tilis and assistant player personnel director Ryan Poles interviewed for the vacant Panthers post, joining Bears assistant player personnel director Champ Kelly, Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds and 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters.

Kelly has popped up in the Broncos’ search as well. The Broncos requested an interview with their former staffer, who has been with the Bears since 2015. He has served in his current role for the past two years, previously operating as Chicago’s pro scouting director. Kelly interviewed for the Jets GM job in 2019.

With the Chiefs since 2010, Tilis has been a key cog in Chiefs contract matters. Considering the offseason the defending Super Bowl champions had on this front — extending Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Travis Kelce — and the franchise’s success in recent years, it makes sense a team is interested in Tilis. Poles, 35, has worked in his current position since May 2018. The Chiefs have seen multiple staffers — Chris Ballard and Brett Veach — move into GM roles in recent years, and Poles has been on GM radars for a bit now. The Panthers also have Chiefs player personnel director Mike Borgonzi on their radar.

Peters and Dodds have been with their respective teams for four years, each relocating in 2017 to join Ballard and John Lynch‘s respective staffs. Dodds has been in the GM mix for a bit now, most recently turning down a Browns interview request. For Peters, this is his first go-round of GM interviews. Peters and Matt Rhule have an interesting connection. During Rhule’s 2001 stopover at UCLA as the Bruins’ defensive line coach, Peters was on the roster as a defensive end.

Here are the rest the Panthers’ candidates thus far: