Garrett wrote that he was driving when a fan flagged him down to take a picture and then “gave me a pillow tap” [in the face].
A “fan” hopped out his car to take a picture with me and then punched me in my face. Hm, put your legs into it might have actually made me flinch. 👍🏾
— Myles “Flash” Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) October 16, 2019
Was in my car, flagged me down for a picture and I cracked the window enough for the camera to get my face. Took the pic and gave me a pillow tap
— Myles “Flash” Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) October 16, 2019
The Browns completed their final bye week practice Wednesday.
Garrett is tied for the NFL lead with nine sacks.
The Browns next play Oct. 27 at the New England Patriots.
Melvin Gordon says Chargers home games prepped him for playing with no fans
In an interview with former NFL cornerback Marcus Cromartie that was posted Wednesday on Twitter, Gordon said the past three years with the Chargers in Los Angeles prepared him for this.
“Bro, we didn’t have fans anyway,” Gordon said while laughing. “We didn’t have many Chargers fans at the game, I’m just going to be honest. We didn’t have many Chargers fans at the game. Much loyalty, love, but we didn’t have many. So I’m not missing anything.”
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Chargers have been playing in Los Angeles at the Dignity Health Sports Park. Originally built to host soccer matches, the Chargers’ home stadium has an NFL-low capacity of 27,000. Of those in attendance, most at Chargers games were identified as fans of the opposing team while the Chargers began to build a fan base in Los Angeles after moving from San Diego.
The Chargers will begin play this season at SoFi Stadium, a new arena that it will share with the Los Angeles Rams.
Gordon, however, won’t be calling Southern California his football home this season, as he signed a two-year deal with AFC West rival Denver.
Even from a distance, Kevin Stefanski making strong early impression on Browns – Cleveland Browns Blog
Kevin Stefanski got his first head-coaching job with the Cleveland Browns just as the world was about to change. The coronavirus pandemic shuttered NFL facilities and forced teams into an unprecedented virtual offseason. Stefanski wasn’t even able to move to the Cleveland area from Minnesota until recently. His offensive and defensive coordinators, Alex Van Pelt and Joe Woods, have yet to move from their previous stops in Cincinnati and San Francisco.
But even though Stefanski has had to resort to installing his offense and familiarizing himself with his players from afar, he’s already been making an impression.
“Kevin is obviously an extremely sharp guy,” said quarterback Baker Mayfield, who is on his fourth head coach going into his third NFL season. “He’s able to relate to everybody. That’s one of the best parts about him and being around him so far.”
Mayfield didn’t know all that much about Stefanski, the former Vikings offensive coordinator, when the Browns hired him following a search process that included eight interviews. Mayfield actually had a prior relationship with another one of the candidates, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, dating back to when McDaniels flew to Mayfield’s hometown of Austin, Texas, the week of the 2018 draft to personally convey the Patriots’ interest in selecting the former Oklahoma Heisman winner.
Although Mayfield has had to stay in Austin this offseason, he actually did meet Stefanski, who flew to Texas just before the outbreak. Mayfield came away impressed, according to those close to him, and their relationship has blossomed from there.
“Just hearing his message, everything he does is with a purpose,” Mayfield said. “It’s a very deliberate message, and he has everybody believing in that on the staff. I think that’s how the foundation should be set, and he’s done an unbelievable job of that.”
Stefanski hasn’t just made an impact with the players, though, despite being a 38-year-old first-time head coach. Thursday, Woods referred to Stefanski as both “authentic” and a “straight-shooter.” Veteran Browns offensive line assistant Bill Callahan, himself a former college football and NFL head coach, said Stefanki’s “ability to communicate and connect” — even via Zoom calls — “is outstanding.”
“I think the world of Kevin and what he has done and accomplished in the very short period of time that we have been together,” Callahan said. “If you just consider the fact that we really did not start until the first week in February as an entire staff, then we were at the NFL combine, and shortly after in mid-March, we’re gone and all went our separate ways. He’s been able to put together a staff, implement a system, coordinate everybody’s role.
“The message that he gives the players on a daily and weekly basis is really no different than what it feels like if you were sitting in the team room and listening to him speak. He’s very well thought-out. He’s well-measured. He gets it. He understands players. As a leader, I’m so impressed with his ability to communicate his message and his mission to the team. It’s been well-received.”
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Mayfield repeatedly used the phrase “same page” when discussing Stefanski’s interactions with the players, the staff and the new front office, headed by first-time general manager Andrew Berry. Mayfield and wide receiver Jarvis Landry also praised how smoothly Stefanski has been operating in concert with Van Pelt and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea, with Landry calling it all “very helpful” amidst the challenging setting of learning new schemes from a distance.
“We have a game plan for what we really want to try to accomplish,” Mayfield said, “and it seems as though Andrew, Kevin and the whole staff have gotten on the same page personnel-wise.”
The talent of that personnel shouldn’t be Cleveland’s issue as the franchise aims to finally snap the NFL’s longest playoff drought, now up to 18 years. The Browns boast one of the league’s most gifted receiving duos (Odell Beckham Jr. and Landry) and top running back tandems (Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt). By signing right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency and drafting left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th overall pick last month, the Browns are primed to feature one of the most improved offensive lines in the league, as well.
Though he struggled last year, Mayfield was a sensation as a rookie just two seasons ago. And this year he’ll have playmaking tight end Austin Hooper, who joined Cleveland in free agency, at his disposal over the middle of the field.
Yet as the personnel, especially offensively, appears to be in place, finding the same page, all the way from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff down to the players, has evaded Cleveland since the franchise returned to the league more than two decades ago.
Stefanski, so far, has shown to be undaunted by the past. Or by the present predicament.
“We’re in a tough spot, which everybody is, but he’s been extremely positive,” Callahan said. “He’s upbeat, outgoing, he reaches out. He just keeps forging forward. I have been impressed in every aspect. … And I feel really fortunate and really honored to be on his staff.”
Ranking NFL QB commitment in 2020
You know how you feel about your team’s starting quarterback. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe your opinion on your QB changes from time to time, depending on whether he’s leading a fourth-quarter touchdown drive or throwing a backbreaking interception. You wouldn’t be alone on this.
Opinions vary and change, especially when it comes to quarterbacks. So when we want to settle a discussion about how committed each NFL team is to its starter, we have to look at the cold, hard numbers. And I’m not talking about yards or touchdowns or completion percentage. I’m talking about money.
As we did around this time last year, we wanted to take a look at each team and basically ask the question, “How married are they to their starting quarterback?” We do this by digging in, as best we can, on the contract figures and assessing how financially committed each team currently is to its starter. We look at how much more money is guaranteed, when non-guaranteed money becomes guaranteed, how much it would cost to cut or trade the player after this season, after next season and more.
In some cases, you might see your team’s quarterback on this list and dispute the ranking. You might say something along the lines of, “Graziano, are you nuts? How can you say the Chiefs aren’t more committed to Patrick Mahomes than the Panthers are to Teddy Bridgewater?” And of course, on some level, you have a point. But the level we’re dealing with here is a contractual one — a purely dollars-and-cents analysis of how committed each team is to its starter and how hard or easy it would be for them to move on if circumstances dictated that they must or should.
Starter: Jared Goff | Signed through: 2024
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Four-year, $134 million extension signed in September 2019, including approximately $57 million guaranteed at signing.
March 20 was a big day for Goff. On that day, he collected a $21 million 2020 roster bonus, his $25 million 2021 salary became fully guaranteed, his $2.5 million 2021 roster bonus became fully guaranteed and his $15.5 million 2022 roster bonus became fully guaranteed. This means the Rams will pay Goff $73 million in fully guaranteed money over the next three years, plus almost certainly his non-guaranteed $10 million 2022 salary on top of the $25 million signing bonus they gave him last fall.
The absolute soonest it would make sense for the Rams to get out of this contract is the spring of 2023, though they could do it in the spring of 2022 if they don’t mind paying him $15.5 million to not play for them that year.
Starter: Ryan Tannehill | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 2
Contract: Four-year, $118 million contract signed in March 2020, including $62 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Tannehill helped lead the Titans to the AFC Championship Game in his contract year, and the team rewarded him with a whopper of a deal. Not only did he get a $20 million signing bonus and fully guaranteed salaries of $17.5 million this year and $24.5 million in 2021, but his $29 million salary in 2022 becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2021 league year. That means he’s effectively guaranteed $91 million over the next three years (because the team isn’t cutting him next March and paying him $62 million for just 2020).
The Titans can easily get out of the final year of the deal if they aren’t happy with Tannehill, but this contract marries him to them for the next three years.
Starter: Kirk Cousins | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 3
Contract: Two-year, $66 million extension signed in March 2020, including $61 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Nobody is playing the quarterback contract game better than Cousins, who had the Vikings over a barrel this offseason and got an extra $66.5 million because of it. Cousins signed a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million with Minnesota two years ago, and entering this offseason the Vikings were scheduled to pay him a fully guaranteed $29.5 million salary in 2020. Needing salary-cap space, they effectively tore up the final year of the previous deal and replaced it with a new three-year, $96 million deal.
Cousins got a $30 million signing bonus and fully guaranteed salaries of $9.5 million this year and $21 million in 2021. Plus, his $35 million 2022 salary becomes fully guaranteed in March of 2021. So if they cut him before the third day of the 2021 league year, they’d still owe him $21 million (after paying him $39.5 million for 2020). And if they cut him after the third day of the 2021 league year, they’d owe him $56 million.
The Vikings are married to Cousins at least through 2021, and the odds are good that they’ll confront the same situation in the 2022 offseason that they had this year.
Starter: Joe Burrow | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Rookie first-rounder | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Not signed yet, but it will be a four-year, fully guaranteed $36.19 million contract that includes a $28.8 million signing bonus and a team option for a fifth year in 2024.
It’s unusual for a No. 1 overall pick to get cut during his rookie deal. Worst case, he’s Mitchell Trubisky — the No. 2 pick in 2017 — and the frustrated Bengals are declining his 2024 option in the spring of 2023.
Yes, the Cardinals moved on from 2018 top-10 pick Josh Rosen after one year, so it is possible. But in this case, Burrow and the Bengals seem destined to be together for a while.
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Starter: Russell Wilson | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 4
Contract: Four-year, $140 million extension signed in April 2019, including $70 million guaranteed at signing.
Wilson’s $18 million salary this year became fully guaranteed five days after the Super Bowl. Add that to his $5 million 2019 salary and his $65 million signing bonus, and the Seahawks will have paid him $88 million over two years since the extension was signed. Wilson has $19 million in salary coming in 2021, which is only injury-guaranteed at this point and doesn’t become fully guaranteed until five days after the next Super Bowl.
It’s hard to imagine Seattle cutting a healthy Wilson next offseason and incurring a $39 million dead-money charge. The first realistic chance for the Seahawks to get out of this deal is the 2022 offseason, by which time his contract carries a roster bonus due on the fifth day of the league year — a device that forces the team’s decision in time for the player to hit the free-agent market. Wilson will be just 33 at that point, and assuming he continues to play like Russell Wilson, the team could well be thinking about another extension.
Starter: Tua Tagovailoa? | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Rookie first-rounder | Ranking in tier: No. 2
Contract: Four-year, $30.275 million fully guaranteed contract signed in May 2020. It includes a $19.579 million signing bonus, and the team holds a fifth-year option for 2024.
Yes, it’s possible (even likely?) that veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will open the season as Miami’s starter. But the Dolphins are paying Fitzpatrick just $8 million this year, and just $4 million of that is guaranteed. They’re far more married to Tua, who slots in between Burrow and Justin Herbert in the same category.
Incidentally, the Dolphins are also currently scheduled to pay Josh Rosen $4.959 million in fully guaranteed salary over the next two years.
Starter: Justin Herbert? | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Rookie first-rounder | Ranking in tier: No. 3
Contract: Not signed yet, but it will be a four-year, $26.6 million fully guaranteed contract with a $16.9 million signing bonus and a team option for a fifth year in 2024.
We don’t know whether Herbert or Tyrod Taylor will start for the Chargers in Week 1 of 2020, but Taylor is scheduled to make only $5 million in non-guaranteed salary this year. He’s not even certain, contractually, to be on the team when 2020 starts.
Herbert, the No. 6 pick in the 2020 draft, is the Chargers’ future at the position (at least they hope) and is in the same category as Burrow and Tagovailoa, albeit at a little bit less money given where he was picked relative to them.
Starter: Carson Wentz | Signed through: 2024
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 5
Contract: Four-year, $128 million extension signed in June 2019, including $66.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Wentz’s contract structure is built on staggered roster bonuses that were designed to help the Eagles navigate 2019 and 2020 salary-cap issues. He’s basically getting $30 million this year and $25.4 million fully guaranteed in 2021.
None of his salary is guaranteed beyond 2021, though $15 million of his 2022 salary becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the team in March of 2021. (It’s also worth noting, given Wentz’s history, that his 2022 salary is currently guaranteed for injury.) The remaining proration of the bonuses means the Eagles would incur a dead-money charge of about $24.5 million if they decided to move on from Wentz in the 2022 offseason. That’s a lot, but not impossible, especially if his injury issues persist and if 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts develops.
Wentz probably stays in Philly for more than the next two years, but the Eagles aren’t contractually married to him for any longer than that.
Starter: Matt Ryan | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 6
Contract: Five-year, $150 million extension signed in May 2018, including $94.5 million guaranteed at signing.
Ryan is making $20.5 million this year, and only $5.5 million of his $23 million 2021 salary is guaranteed. But due to the restructuring the Falcons did of Ryan’s contract after the 2019 season, they’d have to eat a nearly $50 million dead-money charge if they were to cut him in the 2021 offseason.
The soonest they could realistically get out of the deal would be two years from now, at which time the dead-money charge would be “only” $26.525 million. Ryan has two more years in Atlanta for sure, and probably at least three.
Starter: Aaron Rodgers | Signed through: 2023
Tier: Clock is ticking | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Four-year, $134 million extension signed in August 2018, including $78.7 million guaranteed at signing.
We had Rodgers in the “locked-in vet” tier last year. But something happened in April that changed his circumstances. That something was the Packers’ selection of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the draft. As Rodgers admitted in a conference call two weeks ago, this makes it far less likely he finishes his career in Green Bay.
The structure of Rodgers’ contract, which includes a $6.8 million roster bonus due on the third day of the 2021 league year, make the permutations complicated. Suffice it to say that there would be a trade market for him, as he’s scheduled to earn around $25 million a year over the final three years of his deal. But the dead-money charges involved make it more likely the Packers trade him in 2022 than 2021. If they want out next year, they could save some cap hit by making him a post-June 1 cut.
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Figure he has two more years left in Green Bay, unless the team wins big in the meantime and Love doesn’t develop the way it hopes. But if 2020 doesn’t go well and Love does advance quickly, Rodgers could be playing elsewhere as soon as 2021.
Love’s deal, once signed, will be a four-year deal worth about $12.4 million. The slot where he was picked (No. 26) hasn’t historically been able to get a full guarantee in the fourth year, though the team will hold a fifth-year option on him for 2024.
Starter: Kyler Murray | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Four-year, $35.159 million fully guaranteed contract signed in May 2019. It includes a team option for a fifth year in 2023.
Nothing about Murray’s rookie year gave the Cardinals cause to wonder if they’d made the right decision in ditching 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen after one year. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Murray looks like a budding star who’ll almost certainly see the end of his rookie deal.
Starter: Tom Brady | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Locked-in vet | Ranking in tier: No. 7
Contract: Two-year, $50 million contract signed in March 2020, including $35 million guaranteed at signing.
Brady is making $25 million this year, just like Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, but he also has a fully guaranteed $10 million roster bonus coming in 2021, which indicates that he and the team are both planning for him to be around for more than one season.
Starter: Daniel Jones | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 2
Contract: Four-year, $25.6 million fully guaranteed contract signed in July 2019. It includes a team option for a fifth year in 2023.
Jones opens his second NFL season as the Giants’ starter after a promising rookie year. He has a new coaching staff, and the general manager who drafted him isn’t on the league’s coolest seat. But the Giants used the No. 6 pick in the 2019 draft on him, and he’d have to play poorly for an extended period of time in order for them to consider giving up. He has about $4 million in guaranteed salary due in 2022 alone.
Starter: Teddy Bridgewater | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Clock is ticking | Ranking in tier: No. 2
Contract: Three-year, $63 million contract signed in March 2020, including $33 million guaranteed at signing.
Bridgewater is making $23 million this year, counting his $15 million signing bonus, and has $10 million of his $17 million 2021 salary fully guaranteed. That doesn’t mean it would keep Carolina from drafting a franchise quarterback of the future next year if Bridgewater flops and the team has a high draft pick.
It does give Bridgewater at least some security and makes it so the Panthers don’t have to look for a QB on next spring’s market.
Starter: Drew Brees | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Vet in contract year | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Two-year, $50 million contract signed in March 2020, including $25 million guaranteed at signing.
Yes, it’s technically a two-year deal, and Brees could come back for $25 million in 2021. But we’re putting him in the “vet in contract year” tier because of the widespread belief that Brees is taking everything year-by-year and the Saints structured this as only a two-year deal for cap-management purposes.
New Orleans will incur dead-money charges on its cap for Brees after he’s gone, but that’s the price the team has been willing to pay to keep open its Super Bowl window.
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Clock is ticking | Ranking in tier: No. 3
Contract: Two-year, $68 million extension signed in April 2019, including $37.5 million guaranteed at signing.
Roethlisberger restructured his contract in March to free up 2020 cap space for the Steelers. The problem is, the restructure raised his 2021 cap hit to $41.25 million, which feels like a lot for his age-39 season. Next offseason, the Steelers either will have to cut Roethlisberger by the third day of the league year and save $19 million in cap space or extend him again. Unless, of course, he decides to retire, which is always possible.
Regardless, the Steelers and Roethlisberger are effectively tied together for only one more year. As an established future Hall of Famer, Roethlisberger really isn’t in “prove-it time,” but he and the team are entering decision time.
Starter: Baker Mayfield | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 3
Contract: Four-year, $32.683 million fully guaranteed contract signed in July 2018. It includes a team option for a fifth year in 2022.
If you want to get technical, the Browns could cut Mayfield after the season and incur just a $10.4 million dead-money charge on their cap. But they’d still owe him a little over $5 million in salary and bonuses for 2021, which makes it unlikely. Plus, they still say they believe in him.
A bad year could get Cleveland looking toward the future at the position again. But for now, when the Browns look at their QB future, it’s still Mayfield.
Starter: Sam Darnold | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 4
Contract: Four-year, $30.248 million fully guaranteed contract signed in July 2018. It includes a team option for a fifth year in 2022.
The No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft, Darnold has shown promise and is well regarded by the Jets’ coaching staff and front office. A decision on his fifth-year option will be due next May, so this is a big year for him to continue to justify the team’s faith in him.
Starter: Dwayne Haskins | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 5
Contract: Four-year, $14.417 million fully guaranteed contract signed in May 2019. It includes a team option for a fifth year in 2023.
Washington’s quarterback contract situation remains unique, as the team still owes the injured Alex Smith $16 million in fully guaranteed salary this year. We are projecting Haskins as the starter on the assumption that Smith doesn’t make it back from his injuries (which he very well might) and that the new coaching staff will start the 2019 first-round draft pick over Kyle Allen.
Regardless, Haskins got an $8.5 million signing bonus a year ago and has a total of about $5.42 million in fully guaranteed salary coming his way over the next three years.
Starter: Josh Allen | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 6
Contract: Four-year, $21.183 million fully guaranteed contract signed July 2018. It includes a team option for a fifth year in 2022.
Allen is in the same boat as fellow 2018 first-rounders Mayfield and Darnold, albeit at a lower salary because he was picked later. Having led the Bills to the postseason last year, the arrow is pointing up.
Starter: Patrick Mahomes | Signed through: 2021
Tier: On the verge of commitment | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Four-year, $16.426 million fully guaranteed contract signed in July 2017. Earlier this month, the team exercised a $24.837 million option for 2021.
Per the fifth-year option rules for all draft classes 2017 and earlier, Mahomes’ fifth-year option is only guaranteed against injury at the moment. It becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2021 league year. So that this point, the Chiefs aren’t technically contractually married to Mahomes beyond 2020.
Of course, there is no danger of the Chiefs backing out of it, and the far more likely outcome is a record-breaking contract extension for the 24-year-old superstar who was MVP of the league in 2018 and the Super Bowl this past year.
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Starter: Deshaun Watson | Signed through: 2021
Tier: On the verge of commitment | Ranking in tier: No. 2
Contract: Four-year, $13.854 million fully guaranteed contract signed in May 2017. Earlier this month, the team exercised a $17.54 million option for 2021.
The reason Watson’s fifth-year option is so much lower than Mahomes’ (and Mitchell Trubisky‘s would have been) is because those guys were picked in the top 10 and he was not. The new CBA changes that rule, but sadly for Watson the change applies only to the 2018 draft and later.
As is the case with the Chiefs and Mahomes, the option is guaranteed only against injury right now and becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2021 league year. As is the case with the Chiefs and Mahomes, the odds greatly favor a long-term agreement between Watson and the Texans that makes the question of the option moot.
Starter: Dak Prescott | Signed through: 2020
Tier: On the verge of commitment | Ranking in tier: No. 3
Contract: One-year, fully guaranteed franchise player tender of $31.409 million.
The fact that you know how to find this site on your computer or mobile device means you’ve likely heard some discussion about Prescott’s contract situation over the past year. Prescott and the Cowboys have until July 15 to work out the long-term deal they both want, or else franchise-player rules prohibit them from signing a long-term deal until after Dallas’ season ends.
It’s also worth noting that Prescott hasn’t signed his franchise tender yet, and until he does the Cowboys could get out of this deal merely by rescinding that tag and making him a free agent. The chances of that happening are close to zero, but this is a contract-analysis exercise, so that’s the reason he’s third in this tier even though he could sign his tender at any minute and lock the Cowboys into a far greater financial commitment than the Chiefs would owe Mahomes or the Texans would owe Watson.
The odds are good that Prescott gets his long-term deal before that deadline. But until he does, he’s only tied to the Cowboys for one more year. It would cost them $37.69 million to franchise him again in 2021 and then $54.27 million to franchise him again in 2022. Realistically, if they can’t get the long-term deal done this offseason or next, Dak would hit the free-agent market in the spring of 2022. It should go without saying that anyone in this tier will vault way up this list once he signs his expected long-term deal.
Starter: Lamar Jackson | Signed through: 2021
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 7
Contract: Four-year, $9.472 million contract signed in June 2018. It included $8.055 million in full guarantees at signing and a team option for a fifth year in 2022.
Jackson is the reigning league MVP, so he’s not going anywhere. But again, this is a contract evaluation exercise, and because Jackson was drafted so late in the first round in 2018, his deal is not fully guaranteed like the other Round 1 QBs in the 2018 class (Mayfield, Darnold, Allen and Rosen).
The Ravens owe Jackson a total of $3.113 million over the next two years, and only $1.696 million of that is guaranteed. He’s the best bargain in the NFL right now — at least until they have to pick up that 2022 option.
Starter: Philip Rivers | Signed through: 2020
Tier: Prove-it time | Ranking in tier: No. 2
Contract: One-year, $25 million contract signed in March 2020, fully guaranteed at signing.
Contracts don’t get much simpler than this one. The Colts signed Rivers to help them win this upcoming Super Bowl. There is no commitment beyond that for him or them.
Indianapolis also has Jacoby Brissett under contract for this year at $13 million, but he’s a free agent next offseason too. The Colts aren’t married to anyone. The only quarterback currently on their books for 2021 is rookie fourth-round pick Jacob Eason.
Starter: Jimmy Garoppolo | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Prove-it time | Ranking in tier: No. 1
Contract: Five-year, $137.5 million contract signed in February 2018, including $48.7 million fully guaranteed at signing.
It sounds crazy to call it “prove-it time” for a quarterback who’s 21-6 as an NFL starter and just played in the Super Bowl. But the fact is the way the 49ers structure their contracts, everyone is always in prove-it time.
Garoppolo has a $23.8 million salary in 2020, but just $15.7 million of that is guaranteed, and the Niners owe him no more guaranteed money after 2020. The dead-money cap hit for cutting Garoppolo next offseason would be just $2.8 million.
There’s no reason to think they don’t like Garoppolo or that he won’t play out his entire contract there. But San Francisco’s policy on flexibility doesn’t exempt their quarterback, and the organization will always have the financial freedom to make a change at the position if it feels it needs to.
Starter: Matthew Stafford | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Prove-it time | Ranking in tier: No. 3
Contract: Five-year, $135 million extension signed in August 2017, including $60.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
The Lions are paying Stafford $15 million this year and nothing is guaranteed after that. In fact, as of the restructure Stafford did in December, $7.2 million of that $15 million is now an option bonus tied to a 2023 option on his contract, and the Lions have until the day before their first game of the 2020 regular season to decide whether to exercise it. If they don’t exercise it, that $7.2 million gets added to his 2020 salary, so he gets the $15 million either way. And the 2023 year voids no matter what, so this is just a salary-cap manipulation move.
What’s odd about it is the date on the option bonus. Since the Lions don’t have to decide on it until the day before their season starts, they could trade Stafford before then, and the acquiring team would be the one paying the option bonus and the salary.
Let me be clear: I do not believe the Lions are planning to trade Stafford. They’ve said they aren’t, publicly and privately, and I believe he will be their quarterback in 2020. But this is simply an exercise in ranking contract flexibility. And the fact the Lions have three more months to pay that bonus moves Stafford down just a bit behind others in his tier. Even if he does play the entire 2020 season for them, the Lions can get out of his deal next offseason with a $19 million dead-money charge and no more guaranteed salary owed.
Starter: Derek Carr | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Prove-it time | Ranking in tier: No. 4
Contract: Five-year, $125.05 million extension signed in June 2017, including $40 million fully guaranteed at signing.
Carr has $18.9 million in salary coming to him this year, but only $2.9 million of that is guaranteed. The Raiders could, in theory, cut him before the season starts and only owe that $2.9 million. They could trade him before the season starts, owe him nothing and carry just $2.5 million in dead money on their cap for him.
They have publicly professed their faith and belief in Carr, so there’s no reason to think they plan to move on this offseason, even with high-profile backup Marcus Mariota scheduled to earn a guaranteed $7.5 million this year. But the Raiders owe Carr nothing in guaranteed money beyond this year, and the fact that his backup is guaranteed more salary this year than he is means something when we’re analyzing contract details. Carr’s dead-money cap charge if they cut him next spring is $2.5 million. This team is not married to him.
Starter: Mitchell Trubisky | Signed through: 2020
Tier: Prove-it time | Ranking in tier: No. 5
Contract: Four-year, $29.032 million, fully guaranteed contract signed in July 2017. It included a team option for a fifth year in 2021, which the team has declined.
We actually don’t know whether Trubisky or newly acquired Nick Foles will be the Bears’ starter in 2020, but the coaching staff has said it’d be Trubisky lining up with the starters if they were practicing right now, so let’s start with him.
The Bears will pay the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft about $4.4 million in 2020 but owe him nothing beyond that. The team declining the fifth-year option means Trubisky is scheduled to be a free agent next spring. He has to play for his next contract.
As for Foles, Chicago is financially married to him for longer. He has guaranteed salaries of $4 million this year and next, a guaranteed roster bonus of $4 million next year, and $1 million of his 2022 salary is guaranteed. So the Bears will pay Foles $17 million over the next three years no matter what happens, and more if he turns out to be their starter.
Cutting Foles next spring wouldn’t crush them from a cap standpoint ($10.3 million dead money), but they’d still have to pay him. His contract is far more tradeable now than it was when the Bears acquired him from Jacksonville.
Starter: Drew Lock | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 8
Contract: Four-year, $7,010,820 contract signed in July 2019. It included $4.427 million guaranteed.
Because Lock was not a first-round pick, the Broncos do not hold a fifth-year option on him for 2023. He also has no guaranteed salary after the $813,674 he’s scheduled to earn in 2020. So the team really isn’t committed to him beyond this year.
If he plays well, he probably sticks a while, in part because he’s so cheap. Denver is scheduled to pay him $1.057 million in 2021 and $1.351 million in 2022, though that last number will go up via a proven performance escalator if he plays at least 35% of the team’s offensive snaps in each of the next two years (or if he ends up playing 35% of the team’s total offensive snaps in his first three years).
Lock has a lot more to prove before the Broncos have to commit anything to him beyond what they’ve already committed, which isn’t a ton.
Starter: Jarrett Stidham | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 9
Contract: Four-year, $3.156 million contract signed in May 2019. Included $636,112 fully guaranteed at signing.
A fourth-round pick in 2019, Stidham’s entire guarantee was a $636,112 signing bonus. The Patriots are scheduled to pay him about $2.5 million total over the next three years, none of it guaranteed. Since he was not a first-round pick, there’s no fifth-year option for 2023. Basically, if Stidham doesn’t work out, he’ll cost the Patriots close to nothing.
Starter: Gardner Minshew | Signed through: 2022
Tier: Youngster on rookie deal | Ranking in tier: No. 10
Contract: Four-year, $2.712 million contract signed in May 2019. Included $191,616 fully guaranteed at signing.
Minshew was a sixth-round pick, so none of his contract is guaranteed. The entire guarantee was in his signing bonus. His salaries the next three years are all under $1 million, though his 2022 salary will go up via proven performance escalator if he plays in at least 35% of the team’s offensive snaps in any two of his first three years or at least 35% of the team’s total offensive snaps over his first three years.
If Minshew flops, it won’t cost the Jags much at all. Which is good, considering they just paid Nick Foles $25 million to play four games for them.
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