Swartz on sports: Welcome to the Mahomes era


Photo illustration by Gavin Mullin

Next year, Chiefs fans will get to see whether Patrick Mahomes is the real deal.

Swartz on sports, Gabe Swartz

It’s finally here.

Christmas doesn’t normally come in late January, but for Kansas City Chiefs fans that is exactly what happened when Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star broke the news Tuesday night that the Chiefs and Washington Redskins had agreed to a deal that sent quarterback Alex Smith to Washington in exchange for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick in this May’s NFL draft.

First of all, this is absolutely a walk-off grand-slam in Game 7 of the World Series kind of trade. Getting Kendall Fuller, who among other things helps the Chiefs fill a need on the defensive side of the ball, is important. Fuller is also on a cheap contract and has first-round talent, which he played to during his time in Washington last year. Couple that with the fact that a third-round pick can be used to draft more defensive help, and that Smith’s $17 million contract is off the books makes this a great deal for the Chiefs.

When the Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans in this years playoffs, fans had plenty of reason to give up hope in upcoming years. With Smith gone, Patrick Mahomes provides Chiefs fans with every reason to believe that a Super Bowl is possible, despite the recent failures during the Andy Reid era.

I’ve written previously about how you shouldn’t put your hopes into the Chiefs in the playoffs while Andy Reid and Alex Smith are in town here, but I’m here to say with Mahomes under center (or more than often, the shotgun) the Chiefs have found a way to draw me back in. The expectations are high, but Mahomes has the ability to be the savior that the team needs.

When Mahomes got the start in a meaningless- not really- Week 17 game at the end of last year in Denver, Chiefs fans got a glimpse of what the future could hold. During that game here’s a short list of what Mahomes did, any of which could’ve been the most impressive thing depending on who you ask. Someone’s favorite could’ve been his first throw, a perfect dart right down the seam good for a 30-yard gain. Or, it could be that throw when premier pass-rusher Von Miller was wrapped around his leg and Mahomes was still able to unleash a dart that picked up a first-down on 3rd and 14. Or, it could be when he rolled to his right, threw back across his body and found a way to get the ball to his receiver in between three Bronco defenders on a game-winning drive.

Each of those three throws showed the extreme talent that the Chiefs will see next year. There’s no wonder Chiefs fans were salivating over his throws on Twitter during and after the game. I joked after watching Mahomes rip the Broncos defense to shreds going 22 of 35 for 284 yards and an interception that he was already among the best quarterbacks in the AFC.


While that’s clearly not the case, the point is simple. His talent is clearly there. NFL evaluators have said Mahomes makes throws that no one else in the league can do. But, he also makes and will continue to make some head-scratching throws that Chiefs fans wouldn’t have seen with Alex Smith.

Chiefs fans are going to have to get used to some stupid interceptions, but hopefully they can also get used to some jaw-dropping touchdown passes as well. Next year, if Mahomes pans out to be what the Chiefs hope he is, they could have the single-most valuable thing in the NFL, a good quarterback on a rookie contract. After the bitter disappointment of the playoffs in recent years for Chiefs fans, Tuesday night was a step in the right direction toward building a legitimate contender and creating some more buzz around the franchise. 

That Week 17 game was like taking the cover off the Ferrari in the garage. Next year, the Chiefs will open the garage and let it loose on the freeway.

Welcome to the Mahomes Era. I think you’re going to like it here.