Updated July 7, 2020 - 5:49 pm
Cut the 12 years Patrick Mahomes now has remaining on his contract in half. Six should be more than enough to evaluate how his signing an extension worth a record winning Powerball ticket will affect the Raiders.
Nothing has changed, even with an historic deal of 10 years and more than $500 million tacked on to the two years remaining on his rookie contract..
Simply put, in a 100-yard dash, Mahomes should give Kansas City a 50- to 75-yard advantage over all AFC West comers.
Show me the money for Mahomes? Show me any defense from the Raiders.
Team owner Mark Davis called Mahomes a monster during Super Bowl LIV week in Miami, days before the star quarterback led Kansas City to its first title in 50 years by beating the 49ers.
Davis suggested the Raiders needed to improve the following areas to somehow compete with Godzilla: More depth and talent at defensive end to make him uncomfortable, more push up the middle to create such a rush, linebackers to hold the edge, more speed on the outside to deal with the jets that Kansas City calls wide receivers.
Pretty much everything.
New defensive faces
As much as water-cooler opinions suggest the foremost storyline for the Raiders’ initial season in Las Vegas hinges on how quarterback Derek Carr performs, if the Raiders don’t substantially improve a defense that has been substantially bad, making a playoff push is just short of implausible.
Over a combined two years under defensive coordinator Paul Guenther — when the Raiders definitely spent more money on offense — they have ranked either 31st or 32nd in points and yards per play allowed and opposing passer rating.
Which, unless things improve fast, UNLV football won’t have the worst defense in town.
The Raiders are convinced more stops are ahead. That second-year end and Top 5 draft pick Clelin Ferrell will shake his rookie struggles. That end Maxx Crosby and cornerback Trayvon Mullen will continue their upward trajectory. That safety Johnathan Abram is healthy and ready to prove his first-round status.
That several additions — end Carl Nassib, tackle Maliek Collins, linebackers Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safeties Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath — are either significant upgrades or needed depth. That there is more help on the way via the latest draft class.
And there is this: The Raiders are said to be among those teams interested in signing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. That head coach Jon Gruden is enamored with adding the best free agent still on the market but that Davis and general manager Mike Mayock are possibly balking at the cost.
I would think with each passing day, Clowney’s leverage for a salary in the $17-18 million range decreases. Only a handful of teams have reportedly made offers.
Clowney has never in six seasons reached double-digit sacks and had just three over 13 games in Seattle last year. But he was also an All-Pro alternate who had a Top 15 quarterback pressure rate, a solid gauge as to a rush end’s impact.
He’s terrific against the run and still dominates most rush battles.
He has also played 16 games in a season just once due to injuries and had offseason hernia surgery.
And yet, the mind wanders as to how good Clowney might be under new Raiders line coach Rod Marinelli, one of football’s best.
The right price?
It comes down to this: If Clowney wants to play in Las Vegas, how much are the Raiders — with $7.5 million in cap space — willing to spend above a certain number that could necessitate cutting other, perhaps critical pieces?
The Raiders with Clowney at the right price have a better chance to deal with Mahomes, but how much better? So far, Mahomes has shredded the Raiders, winning all four meetings by an average of 22 points.
History suggests Mahomes won’t play all 12 years remaining on his contract and certainly won’t earn all $500 million-plus of the extension. But his new deal is far more cap and team friendly than numbers suggest. The Chiefs will have enough money to continue surrounding him with better-than-average talent. Scary thought.
“Patrick Mahomes,” Davis said during Super Bowl week, “is unlike anyone else.”
If that’s so, then the Raiders’ defense had better be unlike it has been for some time.
In most every way.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at email@example.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.