Patrick Mahomes might actually have the most team-friendly contract in the NFL.
Yes, Mahomes' contract with the Kansas City Chiefs includes a whopping $450 million in total potential compensation. But most of that money comes in the form of "tomorrow bucks" to be paid out starting in 2023, when NFL revenues and cap figures will be much higher. Mahomes' cap number for 2021 is just $7.4 million, about the same amount as Taysom Hill, Case Keenum and Nick Foles will cost the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears this year, respectively. The best player in the NFL is, at least temporarily, an absolute bargain.
That said, it's a bit of a stretch to claim that a half-billion dollar investment is among the best contracts in the NFL, so let's set Mahomes aside. The following lineup is built from the league's shrewdest deals -- the ones that provide the most bang and the least potential downside for the buck. Many are contracts a player signed before he achieved stardom. A few are one-year prove-it deals with veterans who are likely to prove a whole lot in 2021. Some simply pass the cost-benefit analysis eyeball test: right player, right position and better-than-right price. None of them are rookie contracts, however. That would just be a boring list of up-and-coming superstars waiting to get paid.
And finally, these are the NFL's best contracts from the teams' perspective. So yes, this is mostly a list of underpaid players. Many of the players who signed these deals may not love them as much as their general managers do. But that's the business. Here's a full roster of NFL players currently playing on value deals -- the best team you can put together without breaking the bank -- from Football Outsiders.
Quarterback: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Contract: Two years, $50 million fully guaranteed, expires after 2022 season