How Joey Bosa’s Record-Breaking Deal Could Affect Justin Herbert’s Contract Negotiations with Chargers

Joey Bosa became the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player in July 2020 when he signed a five-year, $135 million contract extension with the Chargers. The deal included $78 million fully guaranteed at signing and $102 million in overall guarantees, both records for a non-quarterback.

Bosa’s contract set the market for elite pass rushers and paved the way for other defensive stars to get lucrative extensions. For example, Myles Garrett signed a five-year, $125 million deal with the Browns a week after Bosa, and T.J. Watt agreed to a four-year, $112 million extension with the Steelers this year.

But Bosa’s deal could also have an impact on the Chargers’ future negotiations with their franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert. Herbert is eligible for a new contract after the 2022 season, when he will have completed three years of his rookie deal. The Chargers will likely want to lock him up long-term before he enters the final year of his contract in 2023. How much will Herbert cost?

Herbert had a sensational rookie season in 2020, setting several NFL records and winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He threw for 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 66.6 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 234 yards and five touchdowns.

Herbert has continued his impressive play in 2021, leading the Chargers to a 7-5 record and a playoff spot in the AFC. He has thrown for 3,547 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 66.4 percent of his passes. He has also rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

Herbert is widely regarded as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and a potential MVP candidate. He has shown remarkable poise, accuracy and arm strength, as well as leadership and charisma. He has also thrived under new head coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who have tailored their scheme to his strengths.

Herbert’s next contract will likely reflect his status as a top-tier quarterback and set new benchmarks for the position. The current highest-paid quarterback in terms of average annual value (AAV) is Patrick Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million extension with the Chiefs in 2020 that averages $45 million per year.

The highest-paid quarterback in terms of fully guaranteed money at signing is Dak Prescott, who signed a four-year, $160 million deal with the Cowboys this year that includes $95 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Herbert could surpass both Mahomes and Prescott in his next contract if he maintains his level of performance and the salary cap continues to rise. The cap is expected to increase from $182.5 million in 2021 to $208.2 million in 2022, and could reach $230 million or more by 2023.

Herbert could command an AAV of $50 million or more and fully guaranteed money at signing of over $100 million. How will Bosa’s deal affect Herbert’s negotiations?

Bosa’s deal could complicate Herbert’s negotiations with the Chargers in two ways: structure and timing.

Structure: Bosa’s deal is heavily front-loaded, meaning that he receives most of his money in the first three years of the contract. His cap hits are $14.36 million in 2020, $20.75 million in 2021, $32 million in 2022 and $43 million in 2023. His cap hit drops to $25 million in 2024 and $27.5 million in 2025.

This structure gives Bosa more security and leverage in case of injury or decline in performance. It also gives him more flexibility to renegotiate or opt out of his deal if he wants to seek more money or a change of scenery.

However, this structure also limits the Chargers’ cap space and ability to sign other players or extend their own. The Chargers currently have $13.8 million in cap space for 2021, according to Over The Cap.

They have $64.9 million in projected cap space for 2022, but that number could shrink significantly if they re-sign some of their pending free agents, such as wide receiver Mike Williams, safety Derwin James and tight end Jared Cook.

Final Thoughts: The Complications of Paying Elite Pass Rushers and Franchise Quarterbacks

The recent mega deals signed by Joey Bosa, Myles Garrett, and T.J. Watt have set new benchmarks for elite pass rushers in the NFL, and paved the way for other defensive stars to get lucrative extensions. However, these deals could also complicate the negotiations for franchise quarterbacks, such as Justin Herbert of the Chargers.

Herbert has had an impressive start to his NFL career, and is widely regarded as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. His next contract will likely reflect his status as a top-tier quarterback and set new benchmarks for the position. However, with the heavy front-loading structure of Bosa’s deal, the Chargers’ cap space could be limited when negotiating Herbert’s extension.

If Herbert signs a deal similar to Dak Prescott’s, his cap hit could be around $40 million per year starting in 2023. Combined with Bosa’s cap hit, the Chargers would have over $80 million in cap space tied up in just two players. This could limit their ability to sign other players or extend their own pending free agents.

The timing of Herbert’s extension could also be affected by Bosa’s deal. With Bosa’s contract running through the 2025 season, the Chargers may prioritize extending Herbert before he enters the final year of his rookie deal in 2023.

This could lead to negotiations starting as early as next year, and could require the Chargers to allocate a significant amount of their projected cap space for 2022 towards Herbert’s extension.

Overall, while the recent deals for elite pass rushers have set new benchmarks and paved the way for other defensive stars to get lucrative extensions, they could also complicate negotiations for franchise quarterbacks. The Chargers will have to carefully manage their cap space and timing when negotiating Herbert’s extension, in order to keep their promising young quarterback while also fielding a competitive team.