Who are the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL right now? Have these signal-callers lived up to expectations?
With the 2023 season less than four months away, a lot will be made of NFL quarterback contracts between now and then. There’s also going to be a few massive contract extensions. The five-year, $255 million contract Jalen Hurts signed with his Philadelphia Eagles was an early-spring example of that.
Below, we look at the 12 highest-paid quarterbacks in the league today with a focus of those who are also on their rookie deals.
Related: Ranking the top NFL QBs of 2023
1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens — highest-paid player in the NFL
- Lamar Jackson contract: 5 years, $260 million ($185 million in guarantees)
- Average annual salary: $52 million
Jackson’s new deal surpasses the five-year, $255 million extension Jalen Hurts signed with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this offseason. His $185 million in total guarantees now ranks second among NFL players behind Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns.
Since Baltimore made Jackson a late first-round pick back in 2018, he has posted a 45-16 record as its starting quarterback. With him sidelined during this span, the Ravens are a mere 8-13. That tells us what we need to know about his value to the team.
2. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
- Jalen Hurts contract: 5 years, $255 million ($179.3 million in guarantees)
- Average annual salary: $51 million
Just over two months after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a surprise Super Bowl appearance, Hurts became the highest-paid player in the NFL. His $255 million deal surpassed Aaron Rodgers on a per-year basis by less than one million. His total guarantees is the fourth most in league history. Even with Jackson having topped him more recently, Hurts’ contract was very player friendly.
Philadelphia made it clear earlier in the offseason that Hurts was going to get paid. Last season saw the former Oklahoma standout put up north of 4,400 total yards with 36 total touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s now locked into Philly long term.
3. Aaron Rodgers, New York Jets
- Aaron Rodgers contract: 4 years, $200 million ($150.8 million in guarantees)
- Aaron Rodgers salary: $1.15 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $40.8 million
- Average annual salary: $50.27 million
A drama-filled early part of last offseason gave in to Rodgers receiving a huge contract extension with $150.8 million in guarantees. The idea was that the four-time NFL MVP would play out the remainder of his career in Green Bay.
That’s no longer the case after Rodgers and the Packers finished up a non-playoff season. The quarterback now takes his talent to the Big Apple, where he’s joining a New York Jets team ready to compete.
4. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
- Russell Wilson contract: 5 years, $245 million ($161.1 million in guarantees)
- Russell Wilson salary: $8 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $50 million
- Average annual salary: $48.52 million
Wilson’s first season with the Denver after a blockbuster trade from the Seattle Seahawks did not go according to plan. The team won just four of his 15 starts. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired after less than a full season. For his part, Wilson put up the worst statistical performance of his career.
- Russell Wilson stats (2022): 60.5% completion, 3,524 yards, 16 TD, 11 INT, 84.4 QB rating
The hope in Denver is that new head coach Sean Payton can help turn around the fortunes for Wilson and his Broncos. They still have a ton committed to the future Hall of Famer. That includes dead salary cap hits of $107 million, $85 million and $49.5 million over the next three years, respectively.
5. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
- Kyler Murray contract: 5 years, $230.5 million ($189.5 million in guarantees)
- Kyler Murray salary: $2 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $29.04 million
- Average annual salary: $46.1 million
The contract Murray signed last offseason made him one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks. However, the details were not to friendly for the former No. 1 overall pick. His deal called for just $103 million fully guaranteed. That was less than half of what Deshaun Watson received months before.
If Murray’s 2022 performance is any indication, Arizona might have dodged a bullet here. He struggled big time en route to throwing just 14 touchdowns compared seven interceptions. Murray found himself in a rift with now-former head coach Kliff Kingsbury, too. He’s now recovering from a torn ACL and could miss the first half of the 2023 season.
6. Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
- Deshaun Watson contract: 5 years, $230 million ($230 million fully guaranteed)
- Deshaun Watson salary: $1.16 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $44.96 million
- Average salary: $46 million
Where to start with Watson? Prior to suiting up Week 13 against his former Houston Texans team, the multi-time Pro Bowler had not seen action in nearly two calendar years. That came after he faced allegations from more than 20 women of sexual misconduct. Cleveland then opted to send multiple first-round picks to Houston for Watson after he was not charged criminally. The deal included the first fully-guaranteed contract in NFL history.
Watson then struggled to the tune of seven passing touchdowns and five interceptions in six starts. Sure, rust had to play a role here, but he looked like a shell of his former self. Watson will now earn a base salary of $46 million each season from 2024-26 after a contract restructure.
7. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
- Patrick Mahomes contract: 10 years, $450 million ($63.08 million guaranteed)
- Patrick Mahomes salary: $5.5 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $10 million
- Average salary: $45 million
Mahomes, 27, has more than lived up to his billing as a top-10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In just five seasons as a starter, he’s led Kansas City to five consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances, three Super Bowl appearances and a Lombardi Trophy.
Mahomes’ early success in Kansas City led to the Chiefs signing him to what was then an NFL record $450 million deal back in July of 2020. The contract called for more than $141 million in total guarantees. He followed this contract up by throwing for 4,839 yards with 39 touchdowns in 2021. This past regular season was just as good en route to Kansas City winning Super Bowl LVII.
- Patrick Mahomes stats (2022): 67% completion, 5,250 yards, 41 TD, 12 INT, 105.2 QB rating
The expectation now is that Mahomes will receive another contract from Kansas City ahead of Week 1 that will once again make him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.
8. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
- Josh Allen contract: 6 years, $258.03 million ($100 million guaranteed)
- Josh Allen salary: $27.5 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $16.5 million
- Average salary: $43 million
It was somewhat of a surprise to see the Bills sign Allen to his massive extension in August of 2021. The contract called for $150 million in total guarantees and an average annual salary that was then second behind Mahomes. This came after his first real breakout campaign in the NFL.
Josh Allen stats (2020): 69% completion, 4,544 passing yards, 421 rushing yards, 43 total touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 107.2 rating
Allen followed this up by leading Buffalo to the playoffs for a third consecutive season in 2022. Unfortunately, that campaign came to an end with an ugly loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. Over the course of his final 12 starts, postseason included, Allen accounted for an eye-opening 17 giveaways.
9. Daniel Jones, New York Giants
- Daniel Jones contract: 4 years, $160 million ($81 million guaranteed)
- Daniel Jones salary (2023): $9.5 million
- Signing bonus: $36 million
- Average salary: $40 million
Jones played himself into this contract by performing extremely well as a fourth-year player in 2022. The former top-six pick put up nearly 4,000 total yards with 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions en route to leading the Giants to a surprising playoff appearance.
The only question here is going to be guarantees and whether Jones was a one-year wonder. Prior to 2022, he had accounted for 45 touchdown passes against 29 interceptions in 37 career starts. With $81 million fully guaranteed, he better live up to expectations in North America’s largest media market.
10. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
- Matthew Stafford contract: 4 years, $160 million ($135 million guaranteed)
- Matthew Stafford salary: $1.5 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $60 million
- Average salary: $40 million
Stafford inked his current deal mere months after leading the Rams to the Super Bowl title in his first season with the organization. At that point, it seemed to be a win-win for everyone involved.
Fast forward several months, and there’s questions on all fronts. Stafford missed the end of last season with a spinal cord injury. Los Angeles found itself starting Baker Mayfield to close out the lost season.
Despite all of this, Stafford has indicated that he’ll return for the 2023 season. At 34 and with his combined cap hit of nearly $100 million in 2024 and 2025, we’re wondering whether Los Angeles is having second thoughts about extending Stafford.
11. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
- Dak Prescott contract: 4 years, $160 million ($95 million guaranteed)
- Dak Prescott salary: $31 million (2023)
- Signing bonus: $66 million
- Average salary: $40 million
Prescott was in prolonged extension talks with Prescott prior to the former fourth-round pick signing his massive contract back in March of 2021. All we’ve seen from his ‘Boys since is consecutive losses to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Playoffs.
This past season saw Prescott lead the league with 15 interceptions despite missing five games to injury. He also threw two more picks in Dallas’ playoff loss to the 49ers. This hasn’t stopped the Cowboys’ brass from indicating that they’re willing to sign him to an extension during the offseason.
Related: Updated NFL power rankings
12. Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints
- Derek Carr contract: 4 years, $150 million ($100 million guaranteed)
- Signing bonus: $60 million
- Average salary: $37.5 million
This four-time Pro Bowler is once again getting paid. After being granted his release by the Las Vegas Raiders, Carr went on a tour around the NFL to meet with quarterback-needy teams. As the only signal caller on the market before the opening of free agency, the former second-round pick cashed in big time.
Ultimately, Carr landed with the New Orleans Saints on a four-year, $150 million contract. A total of $70 million is fully guaranteed, with the possibility of earning up to $100 million. Not too shabby for someone who threw 24 touchdowns against 14 interceptions and was benched late last season.
Highest-paid quarterbacks on rookie deals
A focus on NFL quarterback contracts would not be complete without looking at those on their rookie deals. For many teams, this has acted like a competitive advantage.
Patrick Mahomes leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the Lombardi Trophy while on his rookie deal following the 2019 season is a prime example of this. Joe Burrow helping the upstart Cincinnati Bengals to Super Bowl LVI as a sophomore is a more-recent example.
Burrow joins Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert as two youngsters in line for massive contract extensions before Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season gets going.
Here’s a look at NFL quarterbacks on their rookie contracts and how they rank from an average annual salary perspective.
- Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars: $9.19 million
- Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: $9.05 million
- Zach Wilson, New York Jets: $8.79 million
- Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers: $8.53 million
- Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins: $7.57 million
- Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers: $6.65 million
- Justin Fields, Chicago Bears: $4.72 million
- Mac Jones, New England Patriots: $3.90 million
- Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers: $934,000
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.