Over the past few years, NFL teams have made a habit out of handing out new contract after new contract to quarterbacks, with in many cases the latest quarterback to sign becoming the highest-paid player in league history.
Since June 2017, Derek Carr passed Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford passed Carr, Jimmy Garoppolopassed Stafford, Kirk Cousins passed Garoppolo, Matt Ryan passed Cousins, Aaron Rodgers passed Ryan, and Russell Wilson passed Rodgers, pushing the maximum from $25 million per year to $35 million annually.
From those eight quarterbacks we move to another eight quarterbacks, each of whom have contracts lasting one or two years. There’s a growing sense that, at some point, a team faced with high salary demands from a quarterback will say, “No thanks,” trading the quarterback or letting him walk away via free agency. Here’s a look at the likelihood of that happening with any of eight quarterbacks whose contracts are coming up for renewal.
Carson Wentz, Eagles: Howie Roseman says that the team wouldn’t hesitate to do the right deal, for both organization and player. But what’s the right deal? Wentz may eventually fall somewhere in the $10 million divide between Carr’s $25 million per year and Wilson’s $35 million. For now, Wentz’s value is closer to the range of $25 million to $30 million. A season that doesn’t end with a December injury and does end with a Super Bowl appearance or something closer to it puts him in the range of $30 million to $35 million. (A Super Bowl win potentially would put him north of $35 million per year.) The real question is whether Wentz will accept the best offer made before Wentz embarks on a fourth NFL season that could dramatically increase his value, if he decides to roll the dice on his ability to continue to play.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys: Prescott quietly took a significant step in his development in the 2018 postseason, beating Russell Wilson in the wild-card round and then performing at a very high level against the Rams, at a time when the running game wasn’t giving Prescott the kind of support he usually has when playing well. For now, the sweet spot seems to be somewhere between $25 million and $28 million, especially since Prescott isn’t the quarterback of [insert name of not very relevant team] but is the quarterback of America’s Team. He already makes seven figures in endorsements, and that will continue as long as he quarterbacks a franchise that drives TV ratings like no other. Throw in the pathway to the broadcast booth that awaits his retirement, and Prescott would be wise to take whatever the Cowboys will offer, as long as he’s at least in the range of Garoppolo.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers: G.M. Jason Licht has made it clear that they’re taking a wait-and-see approach with Winston, whose contract expires after 2019. Some would say there’s no reason to wait, because they’ve arguably seen enough from the first overall pick in the 2015 draft. Coach Bruce Arians told ESPN during the draft that Winston needs to stop “throwing the ball to the other team.” That’s easier said than done, especially when Winston has a bad habit of trying to do more than his physical abilities will allow.