Projecting Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray New Contracts After Derek Carr's Raiders DealApril 13, 2022
The quarterback market continues to rise in the wake of Derek Carr's new deal from the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday.
Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Carr agreed to a three-year, $121.5 million extension that keeps him with the Raiders through the 2025 season.
As noted by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, there are now seven quarterbacks with deals averaging at least $40 million per season:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
Derek Carr's $40.5 million new-money average on his new three-year extension with the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Raiders?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Raiders</a> puts him 5th among QBs and makes him the 7th member of the $40M+ club, joining Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott.
There will be two more in that group whenever Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray sign long-term contracts.
Jackson's situation is the more urgent of the two because he's only under contract with the Baltimore Ravens for one more season. The 25-year-old likely wouldn't hit free agency next offseason because the team will almost certainly use the franchise tag if a deal can't be reached.
Murray is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract with the Arizona Cardinals. The team hasn't officially exercised his fifth-year option for 2023 yet, but general manager Steve Keim told reporters last month they intend to do so before the May 2 deadline.
The last elite-level quarterback to hit true free agency was Tom Brady after the 2019 season. He was only able to do that by signing a deal with the New England Patriots that prevented them from using the franchise or transition tag to retain him.
Jackson doesn't appear to be in a hurry to get a deal done. ESPN's Dianna Russini reported on Get Up (starts at :05 mark) last month that there is "no sense of urgency" from the 2019 NFL MVP and the Ravens are waiting on him "to step up" to negotiate a new contract.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported April 2 that Jackson "doesn't want to do a deal until the 2022 season is over."
Florio floated a possibility that Jackson could play on franchise tags in 2023 and 2024, which depending on how the cap increases, could amount to the Ravens paying him a total of $97.8 million over the next three years.
Given the current market for quarterbacks, an average salary of $32.6 million for a quarterback of Jackson's caliber is a bargain. The problem is that the guaranteed money wouldn't allow the Ravens to lower his yearly cap hits to provide more flexibility to flesh out the roster.
Murray's situation is complicated by him possibly being unhappy with the Cardinals. He scrubbed the team from his Instagram for more than one month before putting all of the pictures back up in March.
Speaking to reporters about the situation, Murray attempted to explain it away as just something young people do and that he's "done nothing but give my all to the Cardinals and will continue to do that."
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported in February there was a divide between Murray and the Cardinals.
According to Mortensen, Murray felt like he was made the scapegoat for the team's 34-11 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Mortensen noted the Cardinals have their concerns about Murray, "with sources describing the 2019 No. 1 overall pick as self-centered, immature and someone who points fingers."
Murray, like Jackson, seems unlikely to hit true free agency for a number of years because of his value and how affordable the franchise tag is for teams.
The two most likely contracts to look at when evaluating what Jackson and Murray could look for are Deshaun Watson's deal with the Cleveland Browns and Josh Allen's deal with the Buffalo Bills.
Allen signed a six-year extension with the Bills in August that includes $150 million guaranteed and can be worth up to $258 million. The guaranteed money ranks third among all quarterbacks, behind Watson ($230.0 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($150.7 million), per Over the Cap.
Ravens general owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged the Browns' decision to fully guarantee Watson's five-year, $230 million contract is going to "make negotiations harder with others."
Prior to Watson's pact with Cleveland, the largest fully guaranteed deal for a quarterback was Kirk Cousins' three-year, $84 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018.
Patrick Mahomes has the largest total contract in the NFL at $450 million over 10 years, but his deal is an outlier because most quarterbacks don't want to commit for that long because it can limit their negotiating leverage.
Mahomes and Allen are currently the only quarterbacks signed past the 2026 campaign.
If Jackson and Murray elect to re-sign with their current teams at some point this offseason, reasonable deals for both players would be in the four-year, $200 million range with at least $140 million guaranteed.
Jackson can reasonably ask for a more lucrative deal than Allen, at least on an average annual basis if he doesn't want to take a six-year contract. He has an MVP award; Allen doesn't at this point.
He led the Ravens to three straight playoff appearances from 2018 to '20 and was on his way to a fourth before an ankle injury ended his 2021 season in Week 14 when the team was 7-5.
Murray led the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance since 2015. He did fade in the second half of the season after suffering an ankle injury in Week 8, but the 24-year-old was playing at an MVP level with 2,276 passing yards, 20 total touchdowns (three rushing) and a 72.7 percent completion rate in the first eight games.
Contract negotiations are never easy. That's especially true for quarterbacks in this era, with seemingly each new deal resetting the market. Jackson and Murray will have the opportunity to do it whenever they decide to sign long-term extensions.