Football’s Financial Titans: Top 10 Biggest NFL Quarterback Contracts

John Rizzo

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Biggest NFL Quarterback Contracts

In the world of professional sports, NFL quarterbacks often stand out not only for their on-field prowess but also for their jaw-dropping contracts. 

These multimillion-dollar deals are a testament to the critical role quarterbacks play in the league’s success. 

Here, we delve into the fascinating realm of the “Top 10 Biggest NFL Quarterback Contracts.” It will explore the players, the numbers, and the intricate factors that contribute to these record-breaking agreements.

From Patrick Mahomes’ groundbreaking half-billion-dollar extension to the historic contracts of Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and others, we’ll break down the numbers and the reasons behind these colossal deals. 

We’ll also explore the ever-evolving landscape of NFL contracts, examining how factors like performance, market demand, and team finances shape the financial destinies of these gridiron giants. Stay sharp. 

What Is the NFL Quarterback Contract?

Here are some key elements and considerations commonly associated with NFL quarterback contracts:

Length of Contract

Quarterback contracts typically range from a few years to over a decade. The length often depends on the team’s commitment to the player and the player’s desired security.

Guaranteed Money

The most significant aspect of NFL contracts, including quarterback contracts, is the guaranteed money. 

This is the portion of the contract that the player is guaranteed to receive regardless of whether they are cut or injured. Guaranteed money is usually in the form of a signing bonus and guaranteed base salaries.

Annual Salary

Quarterbacks often receive substantial annual salaries, especially if they are established starters or elite players. Top-tier quarterbacks can earn tens of millions of dollars annually.


Besides signing bonuses, quarterbacks can earn various performance-based bonuses, such as roster bonuses, incentive bonuses for achieving specific statistical goals (e.g., passing yards, touchdowns), or playoff performance bonuses.

Salary Cap Implications

NFL teams operate under a salary cap, which limits the total amount of money they can spend on player salaries in a given year. 

Quarterback contracts can be structured in various ways to help teams manage the salary cap, including spreading out signing bonuses over the life of the contract to reduce the immediate cap hit.

Negotiation and Re-negotiation

Quarterback contracts are often subject to negotiation and re-negotiation, allowing both the team and the player to adjust the terms of the deal to accommodate changing circumstances or to free up cap space.

Franchise Tags

If a team cannot come to terms with a long-term contract with their quarterback, they may use the franchise tag or transition tag to retain the player for another year. 

These tags guarantee a one-year salary based on the average of the top salaries at the position.

Market Factors

The quarterback market can be influenced by the contracts of other star quarterbacks. When a top quarterback signs a new deal, it often sets a benchmark for future contracts.

Rookie Contracts

Rookie quarterbacks, who are typically drafted by NFL teams, sign contracts based on their draft position. 

These contracts have predetermined values based on a rookie wage scale established by the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Top 10 Biggest NFL Quarterback Contracts

Here are the 10 biggest NFL quarterback contracts of all time with all essential information:

1. Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow

  • Contract Amount: $55 million
  • Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow, the talented quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, secured a massive $55 million contract, reflecting the team’s confidence in his abilities. 

The hefty deal emphasizes Burrow’s pivotal role in the franchise’s future and their commitment to building a competitive team around him. 

After a standout college career and a promising rookie NFL season, Burrow’s contract is not just a financial investment but a statement of belief in his potential to lead the Bengals to success. 

The contract places him among the highest-paid quarterbacks, highlighting the premium placed on emerging quarterback talent in the NFL.

2. Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes

  • Contract Amount: $52.65 million
  • Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes, the electrifying quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, commands a staggering $52.65 million contract, making him one of the highest-paid players in the league. 

This lucrative deal underscores Mahomes’ exceptional skills and his pivotal role in the Chiefs’ offensive powerhouse. 

The contract not only recognizes Mahomes’ past achievements, including a Super Bowl victory and multiple Pro Bowl selections but also signals the team’s confidence in his ability to shape the franchise’s future. 

As a dynamic and versatile quarterback, Mahomes’ contract is not just a financial commitment but a strategic investment in the Chiefs’ sustained success.

3. Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert

  • Contract Amount: $52.5 million
  • Team: Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert, the rising star of the Los Angeles Chargers, inked a substantial $52.5 million contract, reflecting the team’s belief in his potential as a franchise quarterback. 

After an impressive rookie season that earned him the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Herbert’s contract signifies the Chargers’ commitment to building a competitive team around his talent. 

The substantial financial commitment is not just a reward for past performances but a vote of confidence in Herbert’s ability to lead the Chargers to future success. 

With his strong arm and poise in the pocket, Herbert’s contract underscores the value placed on securing top-tier quarterback talent in the ever-competitive landscape of the NFL.

4. Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson

  • Contract: $52 million
  • Team: Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson, the dynamic quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, secured a hefty contract worth $52 million. 

Known for his electrifying playing style and exceptional athleticism, Jackson’s deal reflects the Ravens’ commitment to building their future around his talents. 

The former MVP has been instrumental in the team’s success, showcasing his ability to both pass and run with unmatched skill. 

The $52 million contract not only signifies Jackson’s individual achievements but also underscores the franchise’s confidence in his long-term potential. 

As the face of the Ravens, Jackson’s contract stands as one of the most significant in the NFL, a testament to his impact on and off the field.

5. Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts

  • Contract: $51 million
  • Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Hurts, the rising star quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, inked a substantial $51 million contract, signaling the team’s belief in his ability to lead. 

As a young and dynamic player, Hurts has shown promise with his strong arm and mobility. The Eagles’ investment in him reflects a strategic move to secure a franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. 

Hurts’ contract places him among the league’s top earners, highlighting his importance to the Eagles’ plans for success. 

With this significant deal, Hurts not only secures financial stability but also shoulders the responsibility of living up to the expectations that come with being a high-paid quarterback in the NFL.

6. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

  • Contract: $50.3 million
  • Team: New York Jets

In a surprising turn of events, Aaron Rodgers, a future Hall of Famer, finds himself donning the green and white of the New York Jets with a lucrative $50.3 million contract. 

This move not only reshapes the quarterback landscape but also positions the Jets as serious contenders. Rodgers, known for his precision passing and veteran leadership, brings a wealth of experience to a team hungry for success. 

The $50.3 million deal represents the Jets’ aggressive pursuit of top-tier talent to elevate their franchise. For Rodgers, it’s a new chapter in his illustrious career, as he aims to bring the Jets back into playoff contention. 

This contract not only reflects Rodgers’ enduring value but also the Jets’ bold strategy to make a splash in the highly competitive NFL.

7. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson

  • Contract Value: $49 million
  • Team: Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson, a seasoned quarterback, signed a lucrative deal with the Denver Broncos worth $49 million. Known for his exceptional skills, Wilson’s move to the Broncos marked a significant shift in the NFL landscape. 

The contract reflects the team’s commitment to securing a top-tier quarterback to lead their offense. Wilson’s proven ability to deliver under pressure and make precise passes has made him a valuable asset.

In Denver, Wilson aims to bring his experience and leadership to elevate the team’s performance. 

The substantial financial investment signals the Broncos’ determination to compete at the highest level, with Wilson at the helm guiding the team’s offensive strategy.

8. Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray

  • Contract Value: $46.1 million
  • Team: Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray’s $46.1 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals solidifies his position as a premier quarterback in the league. 

As a dynamic and versatile player, Murray’s deal reflects the Cardinals’ commitment to building their future around his unique skill set. 

The significant financial commitment underscores the team’s confidence in Murray’s ability to lead them to success.

Murray, with his agility and accuracy, has become a cornerstone for the Cardinals’ offensive schemes. 

The contract not only rewards his past performances but also signifies the Cardinals’ anticipation of continued excellence from Murray in the seasons to come.

9. Deshaun Watson 

Deshaun Watson 

  • Contract Value: $46 million
  • Team: Cleveland Browns

Deshaun Watson’s $46 million contract with the Cleveland Browns marks a pivotal moment for both the player and the team. 

Known for his exceptional athleticism and quarterback prowess, Watson brings a dynamic element to the Browns’ offensive strategy. 

The substantial investment in Watson reflects the team’s ambition to be a force in the competitive NFL landscape.

In Cleveland, Watson aims to showcase his talents and contribute to the team’s pursuit of championship glory. 

The Browns, by securing Watson’s services, have signaled their commitment to building a formidable team capable of contending at the highest level.

10. Josh Allen

Josh Allen

  • Contract Value: $43 million
  • Team: Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen’s $43 million contract with the Buffalo Bills underlines his pivotal role in the team’s plans for success. 

The quarterback, known for his strong arm and playmaking abilities, has become a cornerstone of the Bills’ offense. 

The substantial financial commitment by the Bills demonstrates their confidence in Allen’s ability to lead them to victory.

Allen’s contract reflects his growth as a player and the team’s belief in his potential to elevate the Bills to championship contention. 

With this deal, the Bills are not only securing their quarterback but also investing in the future of their franchise, aiming for sustained success under Allen’s leadership.

Factors Influencing the Biggest NFL Quarterback Contracts

The size of NFL quarterback contracts is influenced by several factors, and these contracts often represent a combination of a player’s skill, market demand, team circumstances, and negotiation prowess. 

Here are some factors that play a significant role in determining the biggest NFL quarterback contracts:

Performance and Skill Level

  • The most critical factor is a quarterback’s performance on the field. Elite quarterbacks who consistently perform at a high level, rack up impressive statistics, and lead their teams to success are in high demand.
  • Quarterbacks with multiple Pro Bowl selections, MVP awards, and Super Bowl victories command higher salaries due to their proven track record.

Market Value and Supply

  • The quarterback market is highly competitive, and the demand for top-tier signal-callers often exceeds the supply. Teams are willing to pay a premium for quarterbacks who can make a significant impact on their success.
  • The scarcity of quality quarterbacks can drive up contract values, as teams prioritize securing their franchise QBs for the long term.

Team’s Financial Situation

  • A team’s salary cap space plays a significant role in determining the size of a quarterback contract. Teams with ample cap room can offer more lucrative deals to their quarterbacks without sacrificing other positions.
  • Financial flexibility, cap rollovers, and creative accounting strategies can enable teams to offer larger contracts to their quarterbacks.

Contract Negotiation

  • The negotiation skills of the player’s agent and the team’s management can greatly affect the contract’s final terms. Skilled agents can maximize their client’s earnings, while savvy team negotiators can structure deals to benefit the franchise.
  • Leveraging a player’s value, marketability, and long-term potential are key aspects of successful contract negotiations.

Age and Longevity

  • A quarterback’s age and potential longevity in the league can impact contract negotiations. Younger quarterbacks with promising futures may receive longer contracts with larger guarantees.
  • Older quarterbacks may seek shorter-term contracts with significant upfront bonuses to secure their financial future.

Team’s Goals and Competitive Window

  • A team’s aspirations and competitive window can influence quarterback contracts. Teams in “win-now” mode may be more willing to allocate a larger portion of their cap space to retain or acquire an elite quarterback.
  • The team’s commitment to building a championship-caliber roster can lead to larger contracts for quarterbacks who are seen as key pieces of the puzzle.

Market Comparables

  • Previous quarterback contracts, especially those signed by players of similar caliber, serve as benchmarks in negotiations. Agents and teams often reference these comparable contracts to justify their position in negotiations.
  • When a record-breaking contract is signed by a top quarterback, it can set a new standard for future deals in the market.

Off-Field Factors

A quarterback’s off-field factors, including marketability, endorsements, and social media presence, can influence their earning potential. 

Players with a strong brand and marketable persona may have more leverage in contract negotiations.


Who currently holds the biggest NFL quarterback contract?

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs held the largest quarterback contract. He signed a 10-year extension worth up to $503 million in July 2020.

What factors contribute to the size of these contracts?

The size of NFL quarterback contracts is influenced by factors like player performance, market demand, team finances, contract negotiations, and a player’s age and longevity in the league.

Do all quarterbacks sign long-term contracts?

No, not all quarterbacks sign long-term contracts. Some may sign shorter deals, franchise tags, or transition tags depending on their circumstances and negotiations with their respective teams.

How does the NFL salary cap impact these contracts?

The NFL salary cap limits the total amount a team can spend on player salaries. Quarterback contracts are often structured creatively to fit within the team’s cap constraints while still offering substantial compensation.

Are these contracts guaranteed in their entirety?

NFL quarterback contracts typically include guaranteed money in the form of signing bonuses and guaranteed salaries. 

However, the percentage of total contract value that’s fully guaranteed can vary from contract to contract, with some featuring higher guarantees than others.

Wrapping Up

In the fast-paced and high-stakes world of the NFL, quarterback contracts continue to reach unprecedented heights. 

The “Top 10 Biggest NFL Quarterback Contracts” showcase the financial commitment teams are willing to make to secure their most important assets. 

These deals symbolize the dynamic interplay between player performance, market dynamics, and team strategies. 

While this blog post provides a snapshot of the landscape, it’s important to note that the NFL’s financial landscape is ever-evolving, with new record-breaking contracts and shifting market dynamics. 

As we eagerly await the latest updates, we’re left with the undeniable truth that in the NFL, the quarterback position remains not only the heart of the team but also the pinnacle of financial achievement. Thank you so much. 

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn