The NFL offseason started early this year as the build up to the Super Bowl now includes a blockbuster trade, with the Kansas City Chiefs sending quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a third-round draft choice and cornerback Kendall Fuller. As part of the trade, Smith agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Redskins, a deal that will pay him $94 million, with $71 million of it guaranteed.
That works out to $23.5 million per season, giving him the sixth-highest average behind Matt Stafford ($27 million), Derek Carr ($25 million), Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), Drew Brees ($24.3 million), and Kirk Cousins ($23.9 million). That average should be quickly passed by Brees, Cousins, and potentially Jimmy Garoppolo, all of whom are free agents this year.
For comparison, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is signed through 2020 with an average salary of $19.25 million. Tannehill’s entire guaranteed money in his four-year extension signed in 2015 was $21.5 million, less than the average salary for Smith’s new contract. Even the highest salary cap number of Tannehill’s four-year extension, 2019’s $21.1 million, is less than the average for Smith’s new contract.
In other words, the quarterback salaries are about to start jumping again.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell wrote on Wednesday:
It wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Cousins top $90 million over the first three years of his new deal, and he could take home $100 million in meaningful guarantees at signing. A $40 million signing bonus and guaranteed base salaries of $18 million in 2018, $20 million in 2019, and $22 million in 2020 gets Cousins to $100 million in three years. Cousins could sign a five-year, $150 million deal and still have another shot at a lucrative extension or free agency before turning 35.
That is what is about to become the norm for quarterbacks.