The Saints planned on drafting Patrick Mahomes in 2017, only for the Chiefs to trade up for him. Now Mahomes says he ‘gave the Chiefs a little bit of info’ to spur that move:
Sean Payton has gotten a lot of attention for sharing his story about that one time he almost drafted Patrick Mahomes, having flown out to Lubbock, Texas to put Mahomes through a private workout at the Texas Tech campus. He famously returned to the New Orleans Saints team facility under cover of darkness with intentions of picking Mahomes at No. 11 overall.
It didn’t work out, though; the Chiefs traded up ahead of the Saints to select Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft, and the rest is history. Mahomes has made the Chiefs an annual Super Bowl contender, set all sorts of passing records, and reigniting the second leg of Andy Reid’s coaching career.
But here’s a new wrinkle. Mahomes played an active part in getting the Chiefs to trade up for him. Kansas City was initially slotted in at No. 27 overall, but moved up to No. 10 in a deal with the Buffalo Bills. That put them one slot ahead of the Saints. Mahomes discussed his pre-draft experience on the New Heights podcast with Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce, recapping his visit with the Chiefs (and how then-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy helped him impress Andy Reid with an early peek at their playbook).
“As the process went on, I got a feeling I was going up in the draft. I had a couple of teams that said they were gonna draft me — and I mean, that’s true, it’s not like these coaches are making it up — I talked to them in the draft process and they were like, ‘Hey if you’re there, we’re gonna take you,'” Mahomes relayed. He continued, “I kind of gave a little inside info to the Chiefs: ‘Hey, if y’all let me go anywhere below, at the time I didn’t know about the Saints, but if y’all let me go 12 or below I’m gonna get drafted by someone else.’ So I gave the Chiefs a little bit of info on that because I wanted to be here.”
So maybe Payton didn’t tip his hand if Mahomes was cautioning the Chiefs about starting trade talks at No. 12 (with the Arizona Cardinals). Kansas City caught wind of the Saints’ interest anyway; news of Payton’s visit was widely reported on ESPN and Pro Football Talk. Mahomes has reflected on it, too, and though he appreciated Payton as an “offensive genius” he ultimately wanted to play for the Chiefs, so he made moves to make it happen.
There was thought at the time that the Saints could pick a quarterback early with Drew Brees entering the final stage of his career, and there also wasn’t much consensus on where Mahomes would be picked. Pre-draft projections suggested he would go off the board late in the first round or somewhere in the second round. But as more teams got to spend time with Mahomes one-on-one and he began to win over coaches and talent evaluators around the league, it became clearer he’d hear his name called very early on. It’s just a shame it wasn’t with New Orleans.
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