You can blame it on the celebratory mood or the adrenaline, but the Kansas City Chiefs did not exactly try to keep a low profile following their 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54. And why would they? They had just won their city (Kansas City, Missouri in case you’re wondering or are the President of the United States) its first NFL championship in five decades, so some postgame excitement is only natural.
Proclaiming the NFL’s next dynastic run, however, is a bit more tricky.
Two Chiefs players — defensive tackle and MVP-candidate Chris Jones and wide receiver Tyreek Hill — did just that after their team’s win on the game’s biggest stage. Already thinking long-term shortly after the game against the 49ers, Jones proclaimed that “this is the beginning of something, this is a dynasty.” Hill, meanwhile, added that the newly crowned world champions would be “build[ing] a f---ing dynasty in Kansas City.”
The two statements in combination with the Chiefs’ performance ever since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over in 2018, led to debates across the media landscape why the Chiefs will or won’t be able to do just that, and whether or not they have the foundation to succeed the six-time Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots as the next dynasty in the NFL.
So, could the Chiefs do what no team but the Patriots has accomplished since the league introduced the salary cap in 1994, and find consistent success?
On the surface, they are very well equipped considering they have arguably the two most important tools in the shed: a quarterback who has performed at historic levels over his first two seasons as a starter, and a veteran head coach who is among the best and most creative play-callers in all of football. The Patriots, of course, had (and still have) the same pieces when they began their dynasty back in 2001 with a win in Super Bowl 36.
But while Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are the pillars upon which a potential dynasty might be constructed, there are other factors that will impact whether or not Kansas City can do what New England did over the last two decades. The biggest of which is of course the salary cap, especially in relation to Mahomes’ contract: the 24-year-old is still on his rookie deal, and his cap hit will remain comparatively manageable for one more season.
After the 2020 season and maybe even sooner, however, the Super Bowl MVP will likely become the highest-paid player in all of football and possibly the league’s first-ever $40 million quarterback. As such, he will obviously impact the Chiefs’ financial flexibility especially with other cornerstone players such as the aforementioned Hill and Jones as well as tight end Travis Kelce and safety Tyrann Mathieu also commanding top dollar at their respective positions.
That does not mean Kansas City will not be able to keep its run going in 2020 and beyond, but it will certainly be difficult given how the league is constructed in terms of free agency and the salary cap. No team has better adapted to this than the Patriots, and this is a key aspect when it comes to their dynasty and the team winning six Super Bowls since 2001: Bill Belichick and company are masters at creating competitive teams despite the cap.
How did they do this? Tom Brady playing on below-market value deals for a quarterback of his stature — especially in the last few years and farther removed from his record-breaking contract extension in 2010 — certainly played a role, but so did the roster construction focusing on depth across the board rather than investing in just a few superstar players. Add a solid foundation being built through the draft in the early 2010s, and tremendous talent evaluation on the free agency and trade markets, and you get the recipe for a dynasty.
While they have some core pieces in place, the Chiefs have yet to prove that they can copy the Patriots’ model and build a grade-A roster even with a quarterback (and other core players) no longer on rookie contracts. It is not impossible, sure, but it shows that some time will have to pass before Kansas City can seriously be discussed as a potential heir to New England’s dynasty — one that might still not be over in the first place, by the way.