Daniel Jones turned one decent season into a mega-money contract that raises the standard in the NFL.
Once the New York Giants gave Jones a deal worth $160 million over four years — $82 million is reportedly guaranteed for the first two seasons — the price tag went up for quarterbacks around the league. Way up.
If Jones can join Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and six others in the $40 million-per-year club after a breakout season in which he threw just 15 touchdown passes and ran for seven more, how much money will more accomplished QBs get paid?
Before last season, the Giants declined to give Jones his fifth-year option at $22.3 million. Now, they’re paying him like a superstar after he helped lead them to a 9-7-1 record and their first playoff appearance since 2016.
But Jones was essentially a game manager who protected the football. His best performance came in a playoff win at Minnesota that was followed by a dud in a season-ending loss at Philadelphia.
Only Aaron Rodgers has an average annual salary of $50 million per year. Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts and Joe Burrow should be next considering what Jones got from the Giants.
Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, received a nonexclusive franchise tag from the Baltimore Ravens so he’ll make $32.4 million this season — a bargain compared to Jones — if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal. He doesn’t have an agent who could’ve already finished what’s become a drawn-out process.
Jackson can negotiate with other teams when free agency begins next week. The Ravens can match his best offer or they could take two first-round draft picks in return.
Jackson, who turned 26 in January, is 45-16 in four seasons with the Ravens. He’s 1-3 in the playoffs but already is one of six quarterbacks in NFL history with 10,000 yards passing and 4,000 rushing.
Hurts is eligible for a contract extension this offseason after leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He was runner-up to Patrick Mahomes for AP NFL MVP and was a finalist for Offensive Player of the Year after totaling 35 touchdowns, throwing for 3,701 yards and running for 760.
In Philadelphia’s 38-35 loss to Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, Hurts had one of the best all-around games ever seen on football’s biggest stage. He completed 71% of his passes for 304 yards and one TD, and ran for 70 yards and three scores.
A reasonable starting point for his contract negotiations would be Kyler Murray’s deal — $230.5 million over five years.
“Tremendous respect for him as a player, as a person,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said of Hurts. “Tremendous respect for the people that work with him to do this, and you go through it in a way that you want to find a win-win solution. You want to find something that he feels really good about, and at the same time that we feel good about and surround him with good players. He knows that. He’s a smart guy. He understands that. That doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be a tremendous contract for him because he deserves that, too.”
Burrow is also eligible for a contract extension this offseason. He led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl in his second season in 2021. Burrow has averaged 4,543 yards passing and 35 TDs over the past two years. It’s expected he’ll become the highest-paid player in NFL history whenever he signs his new deal.
“It’s not done yet,” Bengals GM Duke Tobin said last week. “You know, it’s a good problem to have. I have been pretty vocal about what Joe means to us, and my job is to facilitate his success as best I can with putting pieces around him, and his contract will get done when it gets done. But it’s a good problem to have. He’s a vital part of what we’re doing.”
Of course, guaranteed money is the most important part of any NFL contract. Deshaun Watson got $230 million fully guaranteed over five years from the Cleveland Browns last year. No doubt Jackson wants at least the same, which has led to a stalemate in discussions.
Fully guaranteed deals didn’t become a trend even though quarterbacks and their agents will continue to point to Watson getting his contract while mired in legal trouble. After Watson signed, Murray ($189.5 million guaranteed) and Russell Wilson ($161 million guaranteed) received less last summer and Derek Carr ($100 million guaranteed) so far got the most this offseason.
Huge pay days now await Jackson, Hurts, Burrow and others.