When the Atlanta Falcons signed veteran quarterback Matt Ryan to a record-setting five-year, $150 million contracts, they locked up their franchise quarterback likely for the remainder of his NFL career. The deal also marked an NFL first – Ryan will be the first player in league history to make $30 million per year. He is just the beginning as several other quarterbacks around the league took note of Ryan’s deal. The $30 million quarterback is going to become common over the next few seasons.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ current contract expires in 2020, but Rodgers has historically completed contract extensions with the Packers two years early. He has two years remaining on a deal that pays him an average of $22 million per season. Rodgers is slated to earn $12.55 million in salary, another $6.65 million in a signing bonus as well as $1.1 million in roster and workout bonuses for the 2018 season. At 34 years of age, Rodgers shows no signs of slowing down and will command somewhere in the neighborhood of $32 to $34 million per season in his new deal.
A number of NFL quarterbacks’ contracts expire in 2020. Among those are Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees. These four are on the downswing of their careers and are more likely to sign short-term deals like the one Brees just signed last year. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will also have contracts expiring in ’20 but neither is likely to command a $30 million price tag. Russell Wilson, however, could be in a position to benefit from Ryan’s contact. If the Seattle QB can put up another MVP-caliber season, he might out-do whatever extension Rodgers works out this summer.
Watch Out for Wentz
Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz was on track to win last year’s NFL MVP award before a knee injury ended his season prematurely in Week 14. Wentz’s rookie deal expires in 2020 but assuming the Eagles execute his fifth-year option at roughly $25 million he will be due to a new contract after the 2021 season. Assuming he returns to the form he displayed in his first two seasons, Wentz will also wear the $30 million quarterback tab. Philadelphia likes to get things done early and it’s even possible the Eagles pony up the big money after this season instead of the fifth-year option and the potential franchise tag in years after.
2018 Big Year for Flacco
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco will most likely not be a $30 million man, and he might not even be a $21 million man if he doesn’t perform in 2018. Flacco will make an average of $21 million over the three years after this coming season. If his performance doesn’t improve dramatically, there is no way the Ravens are going to cough up that kind of money when they have Lamar Jackson waiting in the wings.
Could the Cowboys quarterback become a $30 million man? It’s possible, but he will need to continue to perform at an elite level. Because Prescott wasn’t a first-round draft pick, Dallas does not have the fifth-year option. That means Prescott can entertain free agency earlier than guys like Wentz and the Rams Jared Goff, who were also drafted in 2016. Prescott could be the next Kirk Cousins as the Cowboys could apply the franchise tag on their quarterback which would make Prescott very wealthy and push him closer to and even over the $30 million thresholds.