4 NFL Quarterbacks Due Big Contracts in 2021

| July 31, 2021 1:50 am PDT

The quarterback market is ever changing in the NFL. Remember in 2013 when a lot of people criticized the Baltimore Ravens for signing Joe Flacco to a 6-year, $120 contract? That’d be a steal for a top quarterback in today’s market.

Within the last year, we’ve seen Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott soar to the top of the list. Mahomes makes $45 million a season while Prescott will make $40 million. Every great quarterback is looking to reset the market.

There are a few quarterbacks who are in line for a big deal. Let’s look at the five NFL quarterbacks’ due big contracts in the not-too-distant future.

4. Kyler Murray – Cardinals

Kyler Murray’s journey to the NFL is a bit of an interesting one. He played both football and baseball at Oklahoma University. He initially expressed his commitment to baseball. The Oakland Athletics even drafted him with the ninth overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft.

Murray agreed to play for Oklahoma in 2019, then report to spring training. The rest is history as Murray went on to win the Heisman Trophy and led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff.

He then declared for the NFL Draft and went number one overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

Outside of Lamar Jackson, Murray is probably the best dual-threat quarterback in the NFL.

He uses his legs a lot, but he’s no slouch at throwing the ball.

He began his NFL career with back-to-back 300-yard passing games. Murray finished the season with 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns. His strong rookie season won him Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The Arizona Cardinals acquired wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins before the 2020 season. The move gave Murray a legit number one option. Murray and Hopkins became one of the best QB-WR duos in the NFL.

It may not look like Murray’s stats increased a ton in 2020, but look at them side by side.

Stat 2019 2020
Completion Percentage 64.4 67.2
Yards 3,722 3,971
Touchdowns 20 26
Interceptions 12 12
Passer Rating 87.4 94.3
QBR 57.7 68.8

Outside of the interceptions staying the same, every stat went up for Murray.

We also mentioned his dual-threat ability. Murray rushed for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2020. That’s up a lot from his 2019 totals of 544 yards and four touchdowns. Recently, I had Murray number 10 on my top 10 NFL quarterbacks list.

That ranks ahead of guys like Ryan Tannehill and Derek Carr. Both those guys make $25-30 million per year. Murray is much younger than those quarterbacks when they signed their deals.

I don’t think Murray reaches the $39 million mark that Deshaun Watson currently sits at. Something around $35 million should be more appropriate for Murray.

Murray isn’t eligible to sign an extension until after the 2021 season. That gives him a second year with Hopkins to improve his stock. Maybe he will approach $40 million a year after all.

3. Baker Mayfield – Browns

Before Kyler Murray won the Heisman Trophy and led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff, it was Baker Mayfield leading the team. Mayfield won a Heisman Trophy of his own after passing for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns.

The Cleveland Browns made Mayfield the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Mayfield didn’t initially start in his rookie season, but he came in during the Browns third game of the season. He helped the team pick up their first win in over a year. Cleveland went 0-16 in 2017.

Cleveland struggled early in the season, but they went 5-2 in their last seven games of 2018. Mayfield fell short of Offensive Rookie of the Year but he still had an impressive season.

Here are his stats.

  • Completion Percentage – 63.8
  • Passing Yards – 3,725
  • Touchdowns – 27

At the time, his 27 touchdowns were a rookie record. I should also remind you he didn’t play in the first two games of that season.

Mayfield and the Browns went into the 2019 season as playoff sleepers. Unfortunately, they completely flopped. Mayfield threw for more yards with 3,827, but he finished second in the league with 21 interceptions. His offensive line didn’t help, as Mayfield was sacked 40 times.

A new head coach with a run-first philosophy completely changed the Browns offense in 2020. Mayfield only passed for over 200 yards three times in the Browns first nine games. However, they were still winning games.

The Browns kept up their winning ways in the final seven games of the season behind a much more aggressive Mayfield. In those seven games, Mayfield went over 200 yards six times. He also passed for 11 touchdowns and one interception. He led the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2002.

So, Mayfield’s situation is different than most quarterbacks.

Cleveland is a run-first team, so you can argue Mayfield isn’t the most important offensive player. However, he is more than a game manager when you consider he had 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

Ryan Tannehill is in a similar situation in Tennessee, but I think Mayfield’s camp will push for more than $29.5 million per year.

I’m looking more closely at Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. They signed for $32 million and $33.5 million a year, respectively. Both their contracts look bad now, but they put up slightly better numbers than Mayfield when they signed.

I just wonder if Mayfield will ever be a 4,000-yard passer with the Browns run-first offense. He may be wise to sign a deal this offseason coming off his best season.

2. Josh Allen – Bills

The Buffalo Bills drafted Josh Allen with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. His rookie season didn’t go so well. Allen only passed for 2,074 yards and had more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (10).

A lot of people were already pulling out the bust label for Allen. However, I wasn’t buying it because we see a lot of great quarterback’s struggle during their rookie season.

Allen came back in 2019 and improved as a passer. I would say he was an average quarterback that season. His 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions were an improvement. He also led the Bills to the playoffs.

Buffalo made a big move in the 2020 offseason to help Allen. The Bills acquired wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The move gave Allen a number one wide receiver for the first time in his career. Buffalo gave up a lot for Diggs, but the move turned out to be a great one.

In 2020, Allen and Diggs made up one of the best QB-WR duos in the league. Both players posted career highs across the board.

Take a look at Allen’s stats.

Stats 2020
Completion Percentage 69.2
Yards 4,544
Touchdowns 37
Interceptions 10
Passer Rating 107.2
QBR 81.7

I should add that Diggs led the NFL with 127 receptions and 1,535 yards.

The Bills finished the season 13-3 and won the AFC East for the first time since 1995. They won their first playoff game but lost the AFC Championship Game.

Allen finished the season second in MVP voting.

One thing I didn’t mention was Allen’s rushing ability. He doesn’t run for as many yards as Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson, but he isn’t afraid to fight for a few extra yards.

His 6’5”, 237-pound frame makes him an excellent option for those short-yardage plays. Allen rushed for eight touchdowns in 2018 and 2020. He had a career-high nine touchdowns in 2019.

Looking at contract numbers, you have to think Allen will threaten Mahomes for the highest-paid player in the league.

Allen is just 25 years old coming off a near MVP season. He isn’t on Mahomes’ level but he’s close enough to match or top his $45 million a year.

Ultimately, I think Allen falls short of that mark, but he’ll top Prescott’s $40 million a year. It seems like the Bills want the deal done this offseason, which is probably smart for them. If Allen has another big year, he’ll have the leverage to push for over $45 million a year.

1. Lamar Jackson – Ravens

Lamar Jackson is like a few guys we’ve seen on this list. He was a standout player at Louisville University, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016. People had their doubts about Jackson’s passing ability going into the NFL Draft.

However, the Baltimore Ravens felt comfortable enough to select Jackson with the final pick of the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson took over as the starter in the Ravens final seven games of 2018. He led the team to a 6-1 record and a division title.

Jackson took his game to another level in 2019. Just look at what he did in the Ravens season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

  • Passing Yards – 324
  • Touchdowns – 5
  • Interceptions – 0
  • Yards Per Pass Attempt – 16.2

That game pretty much set the tone for the season. Jackson finished with 3,127 yards, a league-high 36 touchdowns, and six interceptions. On the rushing side, Jackson had 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns.

Baltimore won their final 12 games, giving them the best record in the league at 14-2. Unfortunately, they lost their first playoff game to the Tennessee Titans.

While it was a disappointing ending for the team, Jackson became the second unanimous MVP in NFL history.

It was always going to be tough for Jackson to back up his 2019 season in 2020. His numbers did regress a little bit, but he still had 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also had 1,005 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

The Ravens won their first playoff game in the Jackson era, defeating the Titans on the road. Baltimore lost in the next round to the Buffalo Bills.

When we look at quarterback contracts, stats like passing yards and touchdowns usually play a big hand in how much a quarterback gets. It’s a bit different with Jackson because of his rushing ability.

The Ravens run-first offense doesn’t allow Jackson to put up big numbers. They have the second-fewest passing attempts since 2018.

Also, you can’t discount Jackson’s rushing ability. Look at his rushing totals compared to other quarterbacks since 2018.

Player Rushing Yards
Lamar Jackson 2,906
Josh Allen 1,562
Deshaun Watson 1,408
Kyler Murray 1,363
Russell Wilson 1,231

We can’t undermine Jackson’s impact on the Ravens. Because of that, he’ll be right up in that $40-45 million per year range on his next contract.

One thing to note is Jackson doesn’t have an agent, so he’ll be handling the negotiations.

Which QB Will Get the Biggest Deal?

These are undoubtedly some of the NFL quarterbacks that are due big contracts. Whether or not they get it and how much they get is up for debate, and I’m sure there is another passer or two who could pop up.

That said, there is a clear duel for the top earnings spot when discussing the next big NFL quarterback contracts.

This question probably comes down to Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.

Both quarterbacks have shown the ability to play at an MVP level. It honestly may be which quarterback signs last. You know if Allen signs for $43 million per year, Jackson is going to push for over $44 million a year.

I don’t see Mayfield or Murray threatening these two. It would take an MVP season and maybe even a Super Bowl run to get them on Jackson and Allen’s level.

We’ll see if Jackson, Allen, or Mayfield get their big extension this offseason, or if they wait until next year.

Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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