Where Deshaun Watson's New Texans Contract Ranks Among NFL's Biggest Deals

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2020

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during an NFL training camp football practice Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP, Pool)
Brett Coomer/Associated Press

Deshaun Watson? More like De$haun Wat$on.

The Houston Texans and their star quarterback agreed to a four-year contract extension Saturday that will pay him a maximum of $177.5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Aaron Wilson and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported Watson will receive a $27 million signing bonus.

Watson's contract has the second-highest guaranteed salary ($111 million) and total value in NFL history, behind only Patrick Mahomes' historic $503 million deal ($141.5 million guaranteed) with the Kansas City Chiefs. While the structure of Watson's pact has yet to be made public, Schefter reported Watson will actually make more than Mahomes in average base salary ($39 million) over the next four years.

Of course, this merits an analysis of Mahomes' contract, which will be mostly paid out via massive roster bonuses. Mahomes will not have a base salary higher than $38 million over the length of the deal, and that won't come until 2031—the last year of the agreement and a time so far in the future as to make that figure irrelevant.

Mahomes won't even have a base salary above $2.5 million until 2027. Regardless, he is still scheduled to pull in more money annually than Watson over the life of their contracts:

Field Yates @FieldYates

The highest-paid QB in the NFL on average money per new year: 1. Patrick Mahomes: $45M 2. Deshaun Watson: $39M 3. Russell Wilson: $35M 4. Ben Roethlisberger: $34M T-5. Aaron Rodgers: $33.5M T-5. Jared Goff: $33.5M Due to be paid soon QBs include: Lamar Jackson & Dak Prescott.

As for which contract is better, that's a question that will play out over the next decade or so. Mahomes' deal was built to be restructured. His cap number will hit $60 million in 2027, a natural renegotiation point. By then, he'll have already raked in $225.4 million.

Watson will become a free agent in 2026; if he maxes out his contract, odds are he'll wind up making more than Mahomes upon signing whatever new deal comes his way.

That scenario, however, depends on the Chiefs' restructuring Mahomes' contract when they need to. Watson's structure lends itself to his making more money in the long term, but Mahomes' power as the game's best player will allow him to force a renegotiation whenever the quarterback market makes his deal look like a bargain.


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