No NFL team has won back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots accomplished the feat after the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
In the time since then, two teams have come close: The Seahawks were a yard away from pulling it off, having won after the 2013 season and almost again before an interception at the goal line doomed their repeat bid. And the Patriots again went to four Super Bowls in a five-year span from 2014 to 2018, winning every other year and losing the game after the 2017 season to the Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Brady was arguably not yet "great" when New England pulled off the repeat titles. He was good when he needed to be, but those Patriots teams were loaded on defense and asked Brady mainly to manage the game. What he did offer was a friendly contract to go with his emerging skills: a cap hit just north of $3 million in 2003 and $5 million in 2004.
Wilson was on a similar arc when he almost pulled off the repeat: clutch but not the primary reason Seattle was so dangerous. The Seahawks relied heavily on the legs of Marshawn Lynch plus a devastating defense — a defense that was possible in large part because Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012, was making less than a million dollars a year during those Super Bowl trips. Seattle hasn't even been back to the NFC title game since Wilson became more expensive.
Brady was of course in GOAT territory from 2014-18 when the Patriots almost doubled up again. The list of other QBs to at least win one Super Bowl in the last 15-20 years reveals a similar theme: If you are going to do it, the best way is to either have a truly elite quarterback ... or have a good young quarterback playing on a cheap contract.
I talked about this a good deal with NFL/Vikings writer Mark Craig on Monday's debut episode of the Daily Delivery podcast.
This year's Super Bowl bowl quarterback matchup is almost too perfect: Brady, now with Tampa Bay, against Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City star.
Within that, we find Mahomes is quite possibly the perfect quarterback to finally break the streak and help a team win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Not only does his combination of arm talent and running moxie make him a dual-threat MVP-caliber player — having won that award once (and playing at that level for three years) and earned Super Bowl MVP honors last year — but he is still on the final year of his rookie deal this season and counts just $5.4 million against Kansas City's cap.
Mahomes will still be great for many years to come, but the escalating salaries from a 10-year extension worth up to a half-billion dollars (!) will force Kansas City into some tougher roster decisions in future seasons even when the salary cap presumably resumes its upward trajectory.
He is great enough to justify the expense and Kansas City should still be able to win in future seasons. But they will never be set up to win again quite like they are this season.
The Mahomes comparison naturally leads to all sorts of QB chatter involving Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins and now Matthew Stafford. All of those things, too, are addressed on Monday's podcast.
The key takeaways: While it's possible to win a Super Bowl without a QB who is either elite or cheap, it is rare. That puts the Vikings in a tenuous position as they think about their future with Cousins. It also makes the Rams' all-in shove for Stafford rather questionable and should make you think long and hard about just how good a soon-to-be-expensive Watson really is.
My preference if the Vikings decide to do something bold with Cousins: Eschew Watson and try to draft a star. It's the most likely path to success in the near-term and long-term.