The race is on.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Chargers will all likely sign their young, marquee, star quarterbacks to long-term extensions this offseason. Whoever strikes first will set the market for the others.
“My guess is [Jalen Hurts] will be in the mid $40 [million]s,” Heavy contributor and former NFL GM Randy Mueller said. “It will be spun as a deal that takes less so the team can do more and have more upside for individual and team successes.”
Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts have each led the Bengals and Eagles to Super Bowls that they led in the 4th quarter. Justin Herbert is one of the more promising young passers in a league suddenly chock-full of them.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles have been steadfast in their belief since early in the 2022 season that Hurts has the ability to be the face of their franchise for years to come. And, with the roster built around him, can lead multiple runs at the Lombardi Trophy.
“I don’t think the Eagles will be breaking the mold for guarantees and it won’t be an issue,” Mueller said. “Because let’s face it, these deals get redone, so that the guarantees will just pile up.”
Unlike Burrow and Herbert, who were both chosen in the top-10 picks of the 2020 NFL draft, Hurts didn’t come off the board until the second round that same year, meaning that this offseason is the first time the Eagles are even permitted to extend their signal caller.
But, after setting career-highs with 3,701 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, just 6 interceptions and rushing for 760 yards and 13 more scores as the driving force of the Eagles’ NFC Championship run, what might a contract extension look like? How would agents handle negotiations with general manager Howie Roseman, and what would the priorities of a new deal be?
Heavy spoke to multiple agents familiar with the quarterback market, and executives around the NFL to get a feel for how these talks could play out, and what Hurts’ deal might shape up.
“Because of his physical play and suddenly building injury history, I’d focus on a traditional quarterback deal,”a prominent agent who represents multiple starting quarterbacks told Heavy. “So, I’d go for 5 or 6 years at the highest APY possible. I’d fight hard for over $50 million per season.”
Currently, according to Spotrac, Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback with an APY above $50 million. But, it would seem Hurts, Burrow and Herbert could all reside in that neighborhood by the time Week 1 rolls around.
For the Eagles, Philadelphia Roseman currently has approximately $11.8 million in cap space this season, $45.5 million in cap space in 2024, and $97.4 million in spending flexibility in 2025, which would appear to make cap space no object when it comes to a long-term quarterback pact.
One current NFL executive who has previously been in Roseman’s chair as a general manager suggests it might not be necessary to make Hurts the highest-paid quarterback in the league.
“Jalen’s going to wind up with top-3 [quarterback money], when it’s said and done right now,” the veteran personnel man told Heavy. “He’s had one really good year, so I’d add some incentives in there, back-load it, but be sure to give him some money upfront to show that you like him and show the fans that you like him.”
The executive points out that he’d be reluctant to overpay for Hurts.
“You don’t have to at this point,” the executive points out. “He hasn’t won an MVP, he isn’t a Super Bowl champion, so you don’t have to go that extra mile just yet.”
If the floor for Hurts’ extension is as the current third-highest-paid quarterback in the league, the 24-year-old could be in line for a deal in the neighborhood of Russell Wilson’s contract with the Denver Broncos worth $242.5 million total and a $48.5 million AAV.
That might wind up being the soft landing spot for both parties.
“The Eagles always try to extend early and at a lower rate,” an AFC personnel director told Heavy. “I’d guess he will come in north of Carr but below Mahomes. I’d think around $38-42M per. Of course, his side will push for more, but they should be careful.
“Jalen was outstanding in 2016 at Alabama, then took a big step back in 2017 once people figured out how to play him. He was very good this year, will see what happens in ‘23, hence, his side would be wise to take it in case he’s not as good.”
Quote of the Week
“I think it’s going to be harder for him to [win the starting QB job].” – 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan on quarterback Trey Lance
Shanahan didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of Trey Lance as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback this season, during a media breakfast at the annual NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.
It sure sounds as though there are significant headwinds to Trey Lance regaining his spot atop the 49ers’ quarterback depth chart that he occupied until a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. Especially after “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy’s surprising dash to the NFC Championship Game that saw the seventh-round pick pass for 1,374 yards with 13 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions.
Lance was chosen with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and to date has failed to live up to the expectations that come with such a significant investment.
A devastating ankle injury certainly doesn’t help matters, but this feels like a make-or-break training camp for Lance’s future in San Francisco. Especially given the combination of Purdy’s emergence and the 49ers signing Sam Darnold as veteran insurance.
Final Thought: Odell Beckham Jr’s Market
Odell Beckham Jr. arrived in Phoenix for the NFL owners meetings making a sales pitch, with the first major wave of free agency already drawing to a close and the 2023 NFL draft drawing nearer by the hour.
Beckham Jr. hasn’t stepped onto an NFL field since tearing his ACL in the first half of the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles.
Some inside the league are skeptical that Beckham can make any impact, and aren’t surprised that his wide-ranging recruiting tour last fall did not produce any offers.
“Honestly, I’m not sure what he has left,” a high-ranking NFC personnel executive told Heavy, on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about Beckham.
The days very well might be over for Beckham headlining a receiving corps. However, in a year where the wide receiver position is paper-thin both in terms of the free agent market as well as draft class, if Father Time hasn’t completely ensnared Beckham Jr., the 30-year-old could provide some upside.
Odell Beckham Jr. and his agent just ran into both the Jets and Giants here at the Arizona Biltmore. OBJ spoke with or said hi to everyone, including Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen. Notably, he & his agent had an extended conversation with Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh. @NYDNSports
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) March 28, 2023
So, where might Beckham fit? Which teams might be in the market for his services between now and the start of training camps later this summer?
One AFC scout tells Heavy he believes the Jets, Giants, Seahawks, Broncos and Chiefs would be teams to watch when it comes to Beckham’s next destination.
“It all comes down to how healthy he is,” the scout says. “I don’t know if he has the juice to be a top 10 guy anymore, but he can be a starter and an impact 2 receiver. He was on his way to a Super Bowl MVP before he got hurt. He’s better than most 2nd cornerbacks in this league, and that’s still a problem for most defenses.”