Jalen Hurts’ breakout 2022 season, which ended just shy of a victory in Super Bowl 57, has enabled him to break through the NFL’s salary scale.
Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Pro Bowl quarterback agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $255 million, its $51 million average the highest in league history – slightly more than Aaron Rodgers’ deal (currently $50.3 million per season). Hurts’ $179.3 million in guarantees are also among the most ever.
As with any groundbreaking pact, there will be significant ramifications, both immediate and over the long run. A look at the potential winners and losers from Hurts’ payday:
Jalen Hurts: Duh, right? But give the 2022 league MVP runner-up – and don’t forget, Hurts was the best player on the field in the Super Bowl (304 yards, TD passing; 70 yards, 3 TDs rushing) – copious credit for crafting his market with impeccable timing. There were some questions entering last season as to whether he was the Eagles’ long-term answer under center. Hurts answered them unequivocally and, now, the 2020 second-round pick becomes the NFL’s best compensated player after just three seasons.
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Eagles’ title window: It’s typically difficult to keep Super Bowl-qualifying teams intact. Yet even prior to minting Hurts, Philadelphia executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman had managed to retain many of his team’s key free agents. It’s also typically difficult for clubs with enrichened quarterbacks to keep quality players around him. But by avoiding the various pitfalls of having to put the franchise tag on Hurts next year – and Roseman has a history of playing his best players sooner rather than later – the NFC champs can now spread his payout through the 2028 season with the knowledge that the salary cap will continue to expand. If Hurts can keep his performance trending up, little reason the Eagles shouldn’t as well.
Other QBs drafted in 2020: Philadelphia was motivated to pay Hurts as he entered the final campaign of his rookie contract. The Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert were all first-round picks that year – along with the Green Bay Packers’ Jordan Love – and fifth-year options can keep all under contractual control through the 2024 season, Tagovailoa’s already activated. But with a bar established, negotiations for these young passers – perhaps for Burrow and Herbert, in particular – could get a jolt.
Nicole Lynn: It’s only been four years since she became the first Black woman to represent an NFL draft pick, and she’s just a few months removed from being the first Black woman with a client who was the QB1 in a Super Bowl. Now Lynn, the president of football operations at Klutch Sports, has negotiated the richest deal in league annals, at least for now. Don’t be surprised if she’s a bigger rock star than Hurts when all is said and done.
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Patrick Mahomes: No indication he’s itching to rework his own historic arrangement, one that could be worth a half-billion dollars if the Kansas City Chiefs star played out the contract’s 10-year duration. Don’t expect that to happen as the cap hits climb – including one scheduled for more than $62 million in 2027. Eventually, Mahomes, the guy who beat out Hurts for league and Super Bowl MVP last season, will renegotiate. And, if he plays his cards right, deals like Hurts’ will only help push his average annual earnings into the stratosphere. Don’t rule out $75 million a year by the time Mahomes re-ups.
NFC East: The Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott is scheduled to have a nearly $60 million cap hit in 2024, so Jerry Jones and Co. may have to pay their quarterback anew soon. The Washington Commanders are hoping second-year QB Sam Howell is their guy. But if he’s not – and this franchise has mismanaged the position in spectacular fashion in recent years – the price just went up for the next owners to pursue an established veteran to lead what otherwise appears to be a playoff-caliber roster. And the New York Giants recently gave Daniel Jones a four-year, $160 million windfall … but they could have a different kind of issue if he turns out to be a one-year wonder.
Cleveland Browns: That sea-changing, five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million contract they gave QB Deshaun Watson last year? The one that’s already been restructured? Welp, once again appears the Browns could be adrift in deep water given no other franchises have followed their lead … though Hurts and Lynn did well to get about 70% of his new money in the bank.
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Baltimore Ravens: Speaking of guaranteed deals … Hurts’ agreement probably doesn’t help a franchise trying to bring 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, who serves as his own agent, back into the fold – especially if Jackson, widely believed to be seeking a (fully guaranteed) bankroll in excess of Watson’s, decides it’s now time to move the goalposts. The Ravens would surely dive over the goal line drawn by Hurts.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.