Analysis of How Record-Breaking Contracts have Inflated the QB market

Nickolas Loza | February 19th, 2020

As of 2020, there are currently six quarterbacks according to OverTheCap that are being paid upwards of $30,000,000 annually. Those QB’s are Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan. Obviously, all of these quarterbacks have done something to earn their contracts, but what got us to this point where quarterbacks are demanding upwards of $30M dollars? This is what I’ll be analyzing today in this article. We’ll go over the highest paid Quarterbacks since 2014, and which record-breaking signings really broke open the market. These contracts factor in original signing bonuses into the first year of the contract, so they may seem a little suspect in the drops from year to year.

2014

As of 2014, the highest-paid Quarterback was Eli Manning, who was being paid $20,400,000 annually. The other highest-paid Quarterbacks were Ben Roethlisberger at $18,895,000, Jay Cutler at $18,500,000, and Drew Brees at $18,400,000. These quarterbacks all deserved these contracts in some way, but in comparison to today’s contracts, these are extremely cheap and would be considered discounts in today’s standards. The next year would be the prelude to an NFL-altering two years.

2015

During the offseason, two record-breaking contracts were signed, one my Philip Rivers, and one by Drew Brees. Both of which eclipsed $21M in average annual value. Matt Ryan also signed a $19,500,000 contract that made an impact. These contracts would still be considered extremely cheap by today’s standards for these franchise QB’s, the next year is when things get interesting.

2016

This offseason would bring about five different contracts that broke the previous record, but in the end, it was once again Eli Manning who came out on top with an AAV of $24,200,000. The other hefty contracts came from Ben Roethlisberger, who got a $24M dollar contract, Matt Ryan who got his contract restructured to earn him $24M, Joe Flacco, who got a $22.5M contract, and Matthew Stafford who got a $22.5M contract. These five contracts blew the market wide open and set the standard high for the newcomers who would ask for much more. These deals are finally getting into the upper echelon of today’s contracts for the average QB.

2017

This offseason was a relatively quiet one in terms of QB contracts, with Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford both dipping back below $20M, and Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer both signing $24M contracts. There were now seven quarterbacks who were being paid $20M or more, which is pedestrian compared to these days. This offseason brought about nothing really too interesting, but boy was the next offseason ever an offseason to remember.

2018

During this offseason, the contract market would be utterly broken, with Jimmy Garoppolo signing a $137.5M contract, which would work out to pay him $27.5M annually, and a record-breaking 14 other QB’s earned $20M a year when the dust cleared. These numbers are as accurate as it gets to today’s standards up until this point, and it would only get worse from here.

2019

2019 was a relatively mundane offseason, only one more QB would be added to the “20M or more” club, and a couple dropped off. There isn’t much to be said about this offseason, besides this is the biggest number that the $20M or more club has ever had. But the next 18 months would be the most impactful 18 months in NFL History contract-wise.

2020

The most recent offseason gave a slight drop off in QB’s making more than $20M annually, with only 12 quarterbacks being paid this amount of money. But what made up for this was the sheer amount of players now making $30M per year, with seven quarterbacks making this amount of money. The topper is Matt Ryan, who is set to make $39,175,000 this season. But he will most likely be eclipsed by recent Super Bowl-winning QB Patrick Mahomes, who will most likely get a contract upwards of $40M per season. This amount of projected money for a QB is double that of just four years ago. It’s crazy to imagine any person in any sport making this amount of money, so it’s time to look into other sports and their record-breaking deals.

So let’s just say that Patrick Mahomes gets his projected $40M dollar contract, which would rank him at around number three in the world in the highest-grossing contracts per season. The highest right now is Canelo Álvarez, who makes an astonishing $73,000,000 per year in boxing, and Russell Westbrook who makes $41,000,000 a season in basketball, and then finally there’s Stephen Curry who makes $40,200,000 per season in basketball. If Patrick Mahomes get $40,000,000 on the dot, this would make him the fourth-richest sports player in the world right now. These numbers are absolutely astronomical, and they’ll only continue to increase over the next decade.

Credit to OverTheCap, Spotrac, and the official NFL website for the stats. I hope you all enjoyed.

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