Kurt Warner is excited. The Super Bowl XXXIV winning quarterback can’t wait to sit down and turn on the TV to watch Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz and the next generation of NFL quarterbacks guide their respective teams week in and week out during the season.
Despite a handful of seemingly ageless veteran quarterbacks playing into the twilight of their careers, Warner, a 2017 NFL Hall of Fame inductee, is looking forward to the future of the league headlined by these young stars.
“I’m hoping all of them become the Tom Bradys and Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisbergers of the future,” Warner said at an NFL 100th season kickoff event in New York City. “We’re in a great situation with a lot of young talented quarterbacks that if they continue to progress, 10 years from now we’re going to talk about another seven, eight, nine, 10 guys competing every year for championships. It’s great for our league.”
Two of the young guns Warner is especially excited about are Mahomes and Mayfield.
Mahomes, the reigning NFL MVP, threw for 5,381 yards and a league-leading 50 touchdowns during his rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. The human highlight reel made it look easy whether he was standing in the pocket dishing out no-look passes or heaving 60-yard bombs downfield while on the run from pursuing defenders.
Mayfield, who finished runner up to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year race, has fans and pundits anticipating playoff football in Cleveland this season; quite an accomplishment for at team that hasn’t had a winning season since going 10-6 in 2007 and went 0-16 two years ago.
“(Mahomes) plays the game two ways: he plays the game in the pocket, which to me is what I love the most, playing the Xs and Os, seeing what the defense is doing then attack them, and then he’s got the unique ability to make ‘wow plays’ physically,” Warner said. “Baker is another guy who has such supreme confidence in his ability that when he sees something, he lets the ball rip. There’s no tentativeness in the way he plays. He’s a gunslinger and he doesn’t care if he makes a mistake because he’s going to come back and make the same throw the next time if he believes he can make it.”
Both Mahomes, who is making a base salary of $645,000 in 2019, and Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 who signed a four-year contract with $32.68 million guaranteed, are still on their rookie contracts entering their sophomore seasons, but if their success and play continue, they both will be in line for a massive payday in the near future. Mahomes is already reportedly in line for a $200 million extension; for comparison, the Los Angeles Rams on September 3 re-signed quarterback Jared Goff for $134 million ($110 guaranteed) until 2024.
“I love to watch the quarterback position no matter who you are,” Warner said. “What tells me who I like the best are the guys I can’t wait to watch them play. I can’t wait to turn on tape or the TV and see these guys.”