ProFootballTalk

After Garoppolo, who’s next?

It’s become a tradition around here. When a new high-water mark is set for the quarterback market, we take a look at who’s next. So with Jimmy Garoppolo breaking the bank in the Bay Area, here’s a snapshot of the quarterbacks who will be getting paid, sooner or later.

1. The Next Wave.

Kirk Cousins.

If he hits the open market, Cousins surely will get more than $27.5 million per year. The question is whether he’ll push the market all the way to $30 million, and whether he’ll finally get a term that bases his out-year compensation on a percentage of the cap.

In the event Washington (foolishly) chooses to tag him again in order to try to trade him, Cousins will set the bar even higher than $30 million. He’d get $34.47 million for one more year — and then he’d undoubtedly hit the market unfettered in 2019.

Drew Brees.

He insists he’s staying in New Orleans, and I continue to insist he’s testing the Saints. There’s surely a figure below which an offer from the Saints would amount to an insult. And if the Saints insult Brees, his plans to stay could quickly change.

In the end, will he want more than Garoppolo or Cousins? Probably not. If he does, he possibly would get it on the open market.

But he’ll only get to the open market if the Saints insult him with an offer that is, say, south of $16 million per year.

Matt Ryan.

The Falcons have said they want to extend his contract, which expires after the 2018 season. But the two sides may squabble over how much Ryan should get, especially since owner Arthur Blank already is trying to shame Ryan into taking a team-friendly deal.

Ryan’s leverage comes from the tag, which for him would pay at least $24.98 million for 2019. At a 20-percent increase for 2020 ($29.976 million) and a 44-percent bump for 2021 ($43.16 million), he could leverage a deal that makes him the king of the financial hill, at least for a little while.

Case Keenum.

A new addition to the list, Keenum is headed for the open market unless the Vikings sign him to a long-term deal or tag him, at $23 million or so for 2018. But if the Vikings are willing to pay Keenum that much, they arguably should pursue a guy like Cousins.

Either way, Keenum will be getting paid a lot more than the $2 million he made in 2017. However, he surely won’t come close to whatever the top of the market may be when he signs his next contract.

Sam Bradford.

A knee injury that shelved him for much of 2017 will impact his value in 2018, forcing him to accept an incentive-laden deal or to prove it for a year before getting paid in 2019.

Whispers of a degenerative condition in his knee won’t help, and he’ll be thoroughly poked and prodded before anyone ponies up the kind of cash he may otherwise command.

A.J. McCarron.

He’ll find out soon whether he’s a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent, due to his time spent on the non-football injury list as a rookie. If he’s unrestricted, he’ll be able to go to the highest bidder, and he possibly did enough late in the 2015 season to get a deal that would surprise many.

Teddy Bridgewater.

Like McCarron, Bridgewater’s status may be resolved by a grievance, given that the last year of his rookie deal may have tolled, putting him under contract for 2018 at less than $1.5 million. If he wins, he’s free; but that doesn’t mean he’ll get paid.

Bridgewater will have to prove he’s healthy before getting big money. For him, the smart decision for 2018 would be to find a team for which he’d be playing, a lot.

Aaron Rodgers.

Five years ago, Rodgers signed a long-term contract with a new-money average of $22 million. He’s now $5.5 million per year behind Garoppolo, who in comparison to Rodgers has done nothing.

The Packers need to take care of Rodgers, ASAFP. The longer they wait, the more it will cost — and the saltier (justifiably) he will be. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and if the Packers don’t close the gap between his average compensation and far lesser passers who have passed him by, maybe Rodgers will decide to eventually stick it to the Packers, just like his predecessor eventually did.

2. The Second Wave.

Nick Foles.

For some reason, plenty of people in the media believe Foles is due to become a free agent this offseason. The truth is that he’s under contract for another year, at $7 million.

The Eagles should keep him around as the backup to Carson Wentz, given that Wentz has made it clear that he plans to continue playing with the same physicality that ultimately resulted in a torn ACL. Unless someone else makes the Eagles a trade offer they can’t refuse, they should refuse to entertain trading Foles.

If they do, Foles should make it clear that he wants to be paid accordingly. While the reigning Super Bowl MVP may not crack the $20 million barrier, he would — and should — make a lot more than $7 million.

Russell Wilson.

Wilson has two years left under contract, and his average of less than $22 million per year is starting to become more than a little embarrassing, for him and the team.

It’s time for the Seahawks to rectify the situation, and it’s possibly no coincidence that Wilson’s baseball career has suddenly slid away from the back burner.

Jameis Winston.

Now eligible for a new contract, the Buccaneers need to decide whether to give him a second contract before his fourth year or before his fifth. Based on his play in 2017, it probably makes sense to wait.

If/when he gets a second contract from the Bucs, he’ll become the first quarterback drafted by the team to be re-signed.

Marcus Mariota.

Mariota, taken one spot behind Winston in 2015, also has become eligible for a new deal. Will the Titans wait, or will they pay him now? They possibly will wait to see what the Bucs do with Winston before making a final decision.

3. The Third Wave.

Carson Wentz.

The MVP candidate has one more year before he can get a second deal. Whether he gets one early will likely depend on whether he can stay healthy, and whether he can do in January and February what Foles has done.

Jared Goff.

A strong year in 2017 puts him in line to get paid, eventually. The ascending Rams will soon realize that they have more great young players than they can afford. The one guy who will definitely get his money, however, is the quarterback.

Dak Prescott.

A strong rookie year followed by a sophomore slump makes 2018 critical to gauging Prescott’s value. His status as a fourth-round draft pick doesn’t give the Cowboys the luxury of waiting five years before facing a franchise-tag conundrum.

Others to watch include the trio of 2004 first-rounders — Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning — each of whom have two years left on their current deals. Also, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will make $19 million this year and become a free agent in 2019. It’s unclear at this point whether the Jags or anyone else will pay him.

Then there’s Tom Brady, who has two years left on his contract, but who never does an extension based on market value. If he did, he’d already be making more than $35 million per year.