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The first $40 million-a-year QB? NFL execs predict Patrick Mahomes' potential payday

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Spears: Mahomes could get $40M-50M per year in next contract (1:21)

Dan Orlovsky and Marcus Spears discuss what kind of deal Patrick Mahomes could negotiate for his next contract; Spears projects $40M-50M per year. (1:21)

If NFL scientists developed a quarterback in the lab to satisfy both football purists and the analytics crowd, Patrick Mahomes would emerge from the smoke.

Mahomes' first three seasons in the NFL mirror the early career of The Notorious B.I.G. in that both needed just a few years to show that they had no obvious weaknesses. One seamlessly moved from storytelling to classic metaphors, the other from 60-yard dimes on the move to dissecting defenses in the red zone.

At 23 years, 104 days old last season, Patrick Mahomes became the NFL's youngest Most Valuable Player since Dan Marino in 1984. Since his first start in the final week of the 2017 season, Mahomes leads the NFL in touchdown passes (78) and total QBR (78.3).

All of this has tremendous monetary value -- like nothing the NFL has ever seen. Mahomes, a 2021 free agent, must be paid sooner or later, which means an already exploding quarterback market must reset to a new stratosphere. Here's what we know: Mahomes has one year left on his four-year rookie contract, and the Kansas City Chiefs -- who can place a fifth-year option on him this offseason -- appear open to negotiating sooner than later.

What Kansas City should do and what it will do can vary wildly, which is why we spoke with several people around the league to decipher what's real and what's not.