How this affects the Ravens
The next question becomes whether a bigger contract will affect the team negatively- and the answer is a little bit but probably not a lot.
In a post-Deshaun Watson fully guaranteed contract world, the increase in guarantees will probably not be proportionate to the increase in AAV, but the truth is that even if the Ravens have to give a little bit more guarantees many than they would like, any situation in which the team winds up not wanting to pay out the full length of the contract winds up with them being screwed either way.
Meanwhile, the increase in salary that Jackson will gain by waiting a year or two is nothing compared to the money quarterbacks will be making five years from now.
The biggest lie you will hear in football is people close to a quarterback touting how they took “team-friendly” deals. The only quarterback who has consistently taken “team-friendly” deals was Tom Brady, and he just so happens to have a wife worth half-a-billion dollars.
The truth is that label does not apply to any contract at the moment that it is signed, it just looks better as time goes on.
Remember when Joe Flacco signed the biggest contract in NFL history with an AAV of $20.1 million? Well now, the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL (Aaron Rodgers) is making over $50 million.
Jackson’s fifth-year option alone is now worth just over $23 million. That Flacco contract was signed nine years ago- or the amount of time left on Patrick Mahomes’ contract.
And even if we assume Jackson will not wind up with a deal of that length, we can still look at past precedent to look at the way things change over the life of a more standard quarterback contract extension.
Four years ago, Matt Ryan became the NFL’s first $30 million quarterback. That same deal now has him as the league’s 13th-highest-paid quarterback, with the league now having broken the $50 million barrier.
Those numbers will likely climb at an even greater rate in the coming years. As new TV deals worth over $100 billion begin to set in, the salary cap will explode at a rate of possibly as much as a raise of $20 million per year.
An exploding salary cap along with with an exploding quarterback market means that it is not unreasonable to think that the league could be pushing towards its first $100 million quarterback by the time these contracts expire. And even if the numbers don’t get quite that high all of these deals will look like bargains in hindsight.
It is also very likely that these contracts will all get restructured at some point over their lifetimes, a maneuver often made by teams to simultaneously give the quarterback a raise in cash to meet the demands of the new QB market while also moving around bonus money to provide cap relief.
Based on the Murray contract, Jackson may become the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history. He has the right to ask for as much and the Ravens should give it to him.
No, he is not the best quarterback in the league, but he is better than Murray and younger than Rodgers, and the nature of signing an elite quarterback means he is worth every penny.
The truth is that as beloved Jackson is by the city of Baltimore, when Ravens fans see whatever the Jackson contract winds up looking like, we will probably gulp because it will be a big number.
But it is important to remember that he won’t be the highest-paid quarterback in the league for long- because like I said at the beginning, the biggest quarterback contract in NFL history will almost always be the next one.
By waiting the market out and letting natural quarterback inflation occur, Jackson has in the process made himself probably upwards of an extra $10 million a year by doing literally nothing, money that will mean a lot more to him when he is making it than it will to the Ravens when they are paying it.