Following his first year with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021, quarterback Matthew Stafford signed a contract extension with the team that keeps him through 2026. That contract was a four-year extension worth up to $160M or an average per year of $40M per season.
At the time, the contract made Stafford one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in terms of total contract value behind only Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen and DeShaun Watson. The average per year (APY) was behind only those four quarterbacks as well.
For a quarterback heading into his age 34 season and had just one year of production in the Rams offense, that level of extension seemed like a lot. However, as with most contracts in the NFL, once one player at the top of the position sets the market, others follow suit. That’s exactly what happened in this case.
Shortly after Stafford signed his contract with an APY of $40M, Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson each signed deals worth more than $230M and an APY of $46.1M and $49M respectively. This offseason, there are even more quarterbacks who could surpass or get close to matching Stafford’s deal.
Joe Burrow is in line for an extension and he could become the NFL’s top-paid player. Lamar Jackson is currently set to be a free agent and while the Baltimore Ravens may not want to pay Jackson top quarterback money, there is a quarterback-needy team who will do just that. Kyler Murray got an average per year of $46.1M and it’s hard not to see Jackson getting at least that number.
Jalen Hurts is another top quarterback who could sign an extension this offseason. For Hurts, $45M will likely be the starting point and it’s very possible that it ends up being more than that.
From there, we move into the next tier of quarterbacks set to hit the market. Daniel Jones has put the New York Giants in a precarious position after the season that he had. While Jones had a better season in 2022 under Brian Daboll, he hasn't given them enough confidence to pay him a large contract.
Still, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Jones is asking upwards of $45M. He likely won’t get that. However, if that number ends up in the $32M-$38M range, that still makes Stafford’s contract look very good. Geno Smith from the Seattle Seahawks is also projected to be in that same range.
Another quarterback that will have all eyes watching him this offseason is Derek Carr. Carr was making $40.5M annually with the Las Vegas Raiders. He may not get that with his new team, but he’ll certainly be getting upwards of $35M and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the $42M range.
Where does this leave Stafford? While he entered last season as the fifth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL, just one year later his APY has been surpassed by three players and that number will continue to grow. The most Stafford will make in any given year with the Rams is $50.5M during the 2025 season. It’s very possible that the Rams are able to restructure and convert some of that to a signing bonus in order to lower that cap-hit.
Even still, by the time 2025 comes around, $50M for a quarterback won’t be that much, especially considering by that time Trevor Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, and inevitably others will be line for larger deals.
While Stafford is signed through the 2026 season, it seems unlikely that he would be with the Rams until the end of his contract anyway. Still, despite signing Stafford to one of the most lucrative quarterback deals just last offseason, by extending him when the Rams did, they may have beaten a time when NFL quarterback deals are changed forever.