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Projecting early extensions for the 2020 quarterback class: Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and more

Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Championship game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

• Jalen Hurts set to be the first 2020 QB to sign a new deal: The Philadelphia Eagles' signal-caller led the team to a Super Bowl this past season and projects to earn around $195 million across four years.

• Joe Burrow on track to pace the 2020 class: The former No. 1 overall pick is projected to receive a four-year $214 million extension with $185 million total guaranteed at signing.

• Ignore the narratives around Justin Herbert: His lack of playoff success has some questioning whether he deserves a mega extension, but his numbers speak for themselves.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 mins

While we await resolutions to the Aaron Rodgers trade saga and the Lamar Jackson contract situation, a quartet of 2020 NFL Draft quarterbacks could be looking to sign massive extensions this offseason. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, fresh off a breakout 2022 campaign that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance, should be the first quarterback to sign.

With Hurts selected outside of the first round in 2020, Philadelphia does not have the fifth-year option at its disposal to keep him under contract through 2024 without utilizing the franchise tag. From Hurts’ perspective, his career earnings to date are about a quarter of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert’s signing bonus alone, and he’s scheduled to make just $4.3 million in 2023. Both sides should be motivated to get a deal done.

The overarching theme of the article here is a simple one: After a calendar year of being asked whether this crop of quarterbacks should hold out unless they receive fully guaranteed contracts, the short answer is no. The longer answer is they shouldn’t even really focus on that aspect because they should push to structure their deals in a way where it doesn’t matter.

Patrick Mahomes agreeing to a 10-year extension followed by Josh Allen agreeing to a six-year extension arguably set the position market back, after the big three 2016 NFL Draft quarterbacks in Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott all signed four-year deals. The four-year extension had become something of a standard at quarterback, and pushing to go back to that model would be wise. However, borrowing the rolling guarantee structure from Mahomes' and Allen’s deals would also be wise, effectively securing the same assurances as a fully guaranteed deal.

Shorter extensions that enable each of them to get back to the market as fast as possible — which also make it extremely unlikely they will ever be cut — is arguably a battle more worth fighting for, especially with ownership groups in the Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals that are not as liquid as others. 

QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are in a unique position, having just extended a young franchise quarterback to a four-year extension in 2019 and now returning to the negotiating table four years later with a different signal-caller. Here is how the Hurts and Carson Wentz stacked up in the two regular seasons before signing an extension:

Player Passing grade Yards per attempt EPA per dropback* Rushing yards Big-time throws/Turnover-worthy plays
Carson Wentz 85.5 7.6 .182 392 46 / 33
Jalen Hurts 80.1 7.7 .174 1,542 39 / 29

*Win probability between 10%-90%

The two were similar as passers, but Hurts is a far superior rusher. That said, while Wentz already had serious injury concerns going into his deal, the Eagles may be cautious since Hurts leads all quarterbacks in rushing attempts over the past two years by 60.

Interestingly, there is another connection between Wentz’s four-year, $128 million extension signed in 2019 and Hurts’ situation now: When Wentz signed his deal for $32 million per year, Aaron Rodgers was the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, earning $33.5 million annually on a deal signed the prior offseason. Now, Hurts is looking to join that upper echelon of quarterback compensation one offseason after Rodgers again became the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, at just over $50 million annually.

The model contract from a structure standpoint here should be Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s four-year, $160 million extension signed in 2021. Prescott, like Hurts, was not a first-round pick and was not negotiating with a fifth-year option placeholder. However, Prescott had been franchise-tagged for a second time by the Cowboys before they ironed out a multi-year pact.

Philadelphia will likely use the Wentz extension to push back on the idea of Hurts resetting the quarterback market from an average annual value standpoint, but here we have Hurts securing a larger percentage of the contract in new total guarantees at around 67% compared to Wentz’s 63%. 

Contract prediction: Four years, $195 million ($48.75 million per year), $135 million total guaranteed at signing

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins


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