With Kyler Murray becoming the latest quarterback to land a major contract, let’s take a look at who’s next to cash in, either this year or next. (Or, maybe, not at all.)
The Ravens quarterback spent months resisting the team’s overtures to do a long-term deal. Now, he wants to get his second contract. Complicating matters is that he has no agent. He has said that contracts signed by other quarterbacks don’t matter to him, which is a clear example of why he desperately needs an agent. Those other deals become precedent for his own, a bar that he should strive to meet or to exceed.
It’s a challenge to separate team from self when it comes to getting a fair contract. Some players get brainwashed by the idea that they owe it to the broader effort to leave extra meat on the bone. Other players recognize that their duty to themselves and their families is to maximize the value that they generate from playing football, because their time for doing so is extremely short. They have no equity in the business. They have only what they can squeeze from ownership and squirrel away in the bank.
Yes, it’s a team sport. But there definitely is a “me” in team when it comes to ensuring that full and fair value is generated by a player who has earned every penny he makes, and who is entitled to pursue as many pennies as he can from owners who have money to burn — and to buy superyachts with.
Deshaun Watson leveraged the quasi-free agency he finagled for himself into a brand-new, market-setting deal. Wilson, who had only one place he truly wanted to play if not Seattle, didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to ask for more on the way through the door.
And that’s a smart move, because he’ll get even more after the 2022 season.
With the richest owner by far poised to buy the team, and with the team giving up so much in trade assets to get Wilson, he’ll get a market-value deal after the season. It likely will be fully guaranteed.
Is there a chance that injury or ineffectiveness hurts his value? Yes, but it’s slim. The Broncos essentially accepted the fact that Wilson will get a monster deal the moment the trade happened. By not doing it now, they know they’ll be paying him even more later.
That said, there’s a chance that the Wal-Mart clan will decide to make Wilson an offer he can’t and won’t refuse before the start of the 2022 regular season. Again, it will be cheaper to do it now than next year, and the terms could be so good for Wilson that he won’t want to carry the risk of having injury or subpar play cloud his value come next year.
His window on a new contract opens at the conclusion of the 2022 regular season. Burrow already has earned his second deal. And who knows? He could be the first young quarterback to get his second contract after the final game of the regular season and before the start of the postseason, if the Bengals qualify for the playoffs again.
Burrow may face local pressure to “take less.” Hopefully, he won’t. He has transformed that franchise. He deserves everything he’s able to get. If they want to keep him for the long haul, they need to change their ways — and they possibly already are, given that they’re finally selling stadium naming rights.
That said, it may be difficult to get a fully-guaranteed deal, if owner Mike Brown simply can’t put a giant pile of cash into escrow. Maybe Burrow will be the first quarterback to hinge his compensation to a specific percentage of the cap. Thus, as it goes up, he get more — and his contract never becomes obsolete.
Two great years, no playoff berths. That doesn’t matter. He’s already regarded as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. If the Chargers want to keep him, they’ll have to pay up. Presumably after the 2022 season ends. If they won’t, someone else gladly will, now or later.
The Eagles have sent mixed signals, publicly and privately, regarding their commitment to Hurts. The commitment to the 2020 second-round pick seemingly was made when the Eagles traded for receiver A.J. Brown.
Here’s the question. Will Hurts deliberately take a second-tier deal in order to ensure that the Eagles will always have a solid team around him?
The fact that he wasn’t a first-round pick will bring his long-term status to a head sooner than otherwise. He’ll be a free agent in March 2024, unless the Eagles apply the franchise tag. His performance this season will go a long way toward helping the Eagles peg his future value. The challenge then will be getting on the same page with Hurts.
He’s also entering his third season. After it ends, he’ll be eligible for a new deal. It’s the ultimate upside for delivering on his potential, and for taking full advantage of the help he’ll have around him.
If he doesn’t step up, however, he could end up looking elsewhere for his second NFL contract, either if he’s released after the 2022 season or if he becomes a free-agent when his four-year rookie deal expires.
He’s on a one-year deal in Carolina. If he performs well, the Panthers will surely want to keep him. Others will become interested.
Surprisingly, the multi-million-dollar haircut Mayfield took to grease the skids out of Cleveland didn’t include a promise from the Panthers not to apply the franchise tag next year. If he overachieves this season, he may find himself blocked from the open market by the tag.
Unless he signs a long-term deal as part of a trade to a new team, Garoppolo will become a free agent in March. That makes it critical for him to find a place where he can play — and play well — in 2022.
The Giants didn’t pick up his fiffth-year option. The 2019 top-10 pick enters a contract year. If he becomes the guy the Giants thought he’d be three years ago, he’ll get a long-term deal or the franchise tag.
He’s got two years left on his current deal. He was absent from some of the voluntary offseason program, possibly in an effort to get an adjustment. After this season, the Titans may have to make a long-term decision. Which may be one of the reasons why they drafted Malik Willis.
He has two years on his contract, as he enters his first season with the Colts. If he delivers, the team may want to give him a big pile of money in order to ensure that he’ll be around for a few more seasons.
The GOAT will be a free agent in 2023. He’ll be able to pick his next team, unrestricted and unfettered. And with $37.5 million per year waiting for him from Fox, he’ll be able to tell anyone who wants him to keep playing that, in order to get him, they’ll have to pay him more than what he’d be getting to not actually play.