The San Francisco 49ers signed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a massive 5-year, $137.5 million deal that makes him the highest paid player in NFL history (for at least the next couple months until Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins sign new deals). Garoppolo’s contract edged out the 5-year, $135 million deal the Detroit Lions handed to Matthew Stafford in August of 2017.
Garoppolo’s deal reportedly comes with $74 million guaranteed, the third-most in NFL history behind Stafford’s $92 million guaranteed and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s $87 million guaranteed.
While this deal sounds ridiculous right now, the 49ers have a couple million reasons for handing Garoppolo a record-breaking deal. First, they wanted to get ahead of the Brees and Cousins contracts this offseason so they could dictate the market and not have to follow what is expected to be an explosion of money for quarterbacks.
They also wanted to lock Garoppolo in to a long-term extension so they weren’t stuck in a Washington/Cousins scenario where they lose out on their franchise passer. And then Matt Ryan will be a free agent after the 2018 season and is working on an extension, while Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisbeger, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott are all free agents after 2019 and it’s common to sign new deals with one or two years left on the existing contract.
So the 49ers were on a rush to get in ahead of all these other quarterback deals, that are almost certain to eclipse the 5-year, $135 million for Stafford, the 5-year, $125 million for the Raiders’ Derek Carr, the 5-year, $123 million for Luck, and 4-year, and $94 million for Washington’s Alex Smith.
Garoppolo’s deal also comes with nearly $90 million over the next three years, or nearly $30 million per year, which is astounding. For context, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will receive $30 million in cash over the next two seasons combined, with $28 million in combined base salaries for 2018 and 2019 and $2 million in combined game day bonuses.
This really sets the stage for contract re-negotiations between Brady and the Patriots, too, as the two sides are expected to try and reach an extension this offseason. Will Brady want a deal to match his former back-up? Or will Brady take another relative discount? The Patriots will want to get ahead of all of these future quarterback contracts, too.
Brady signed a 2-year, $41 million extension back in March of 2016 with a $28 million signing bonus, with a large portion the result of converting $17 million of his base salaries in 2016 and 2017 into a signing bonus.
At the time of the extension with an average of $20.5 million per year in new money, Brady was a fraction behind the younger Ryan ($20.75 million per year) and Newton ($20.76 million per year); the trio of 2004 quarterbacks in Rivers ($20.81 million per year), Manning ($21.00 million per year), and Roethlisberger ($21.85 million per year); two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Wilson ($21.90 million per year) and Rodgers ($22.00 million per year); and the worst contract in the NFL in the Ravens’ Joe Flacco ($21.13 million per year).
Brady’s deal also came ahead of his projected 2016 suspension because of DeflateGate and will valid concern over how much to pay a quarterback in his age-41 and age-42 seasons. He has since proven that he can still play at an MVP level and there is no suspension on the horizon, so perhaps he will ask for top dollar.
A 2-year extension for Brady that resembles his previous 2-year extension would cost roughly $22.0 million per year if they follow his 9th-place contract ranking, or roughly $23.5 million per year if they use the same percentage of the salary cap.
Whatever Brady receives as an extension from the Patriots will rightfully be compared to the record-breaking deal Garoppolo received from the 49ers. It’ll be fascinating to see how the quarterback market changes over the next year or two.