In the past few years, we’ve seen the list of highest-paid quarterbacks change in a big way. Heading into the 2023 season, let’s take a look at the current top 10 and who sits atop the list of the highest-paid QBs in the NFL.
The Highest-Paid Quarterbacks in the NFL
When it comes to looking at the highest-paid quarterbacks, there are a number of ways with which to determine how the list shapes up. You could look at the total value of the contract or the total guarantees, but both of those can be heavily influenced by the length of the deal. Therefore, in our list, we will rank the position based on the quoted average annual value (AAV) of the contract.
10) Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints | AAV: $37.5 million
Derek Carr is now a member of the New Orleans Saints, and his new contract sees him drop from seventh on the list to tenth. His $37.5 million in AAV is $3 million per year less than he had on his deal with the Raiders. The way this contract is structured, it is a minimum two-year deal worth $70 million and is structured to help the Saints’ cap issues in 2023.
T-7) Daniel Jones, New York Giants | AAV: $40 million
Daniel Jones is the newest addition to our list of highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. His four-year deal worth $160 million was signed just before the deadline for the Giants to franchise tag him. He joins Matt Stafford and Dak Prescott tied for the seventh-highest AAV.
T-7) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams | AAV: $40 million
Last offseason saw the Los Angeles Rams ink Matthew Stafford to a four-year contract extension worth $160 million. Coming off winning the Super Bowl, Stafford received $63 million in full guarantees, including a $60 million signing bonus. If Stafford is on the roster on the third day of the 2023 league year, a further $57 million becomes guaranteed ($26 million option bonus and $31 million base salary in 2024).
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The Rams could technically move on from Stafford before that, but it would leave $49.5 million in dead money on the 2023 salary cap. If the Rams keep Stafford, he will have a salary cap number of $20 million in 2023, rising to $49.5 million in 2024.
T-7) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys | AAV: $40 million
It doesn’t seem that long ago when Dak Prescott signed a four-year contract worth $160 million, but 2023 will be the third year of the deal. The deal contained $126 million in total guarantees, which included a $66 million signing bonus. Prescott will count for $49.13 million against the cap in 2023, which is a huge jump from the $19.73 million cap number last season.
6) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills | AAV: $43 million
The fact that Josh Allen’s contract is only sixth on this list, with an AAV of $43 million, is indicative of how the QB landscape has changed in the past few years. When the deal was signed in 2021, Allen was second on the list but slipped down considerably last offseason.
Allen’s contract is worth $258.034 million, with $100.039 million fully guaranteed at signing and a total of $150 million in total guarantees. As it stands on Jan. 27, Allen will count for $39.772 million against the Bills’ salary cap in 2023. It’s also worth noting that Allen’s contract contains $30 million in incentives, but those are not included when considering the AAV of the overall deal.
5) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs | AAV: $45 million
The different ways of valuing contracts are highlighted by Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year contract extension. If we ranked these deals by total value, Mahomes would be by far the highest-paid QB in the league, with a total value in excess of $450 million when you include the $1.25 million incentives for either being MVP or winning the AFC Championship Game.
The length of the deal and the structure is different from anything we’ve previously seen in the NFL. Mahomes’ contract contains rolling guarantees that make it somewhat complicated for the Chiefs to move on from him. Given how this contract moved the market in 2020, it seems incredible he’s just fifth on our list of highest-paid QBs.
4) Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans | AAV: $46 million
Deshaun Watson’s contract is another that completely changed the market. Not only did Watson’s AAV of $46 million put him fourth on this list, but all $230 million of his contract was fully guaranteed at signing. That almost doubles the next highest fully guaranteed money ($124 million) at the position.
Watson’s contract has an intriguing symmetry over the next four years, with his cap numbers currently set to be $54.993 million per year. Of course, that will likely change as the Cleveland Browns consider restructuring his contract to create cap space.
3) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals | AAV: $46.1 million
We saw Kyler Murray sign a five-year contract extension worth $46.1 million during the 2022 NFL offseason. Initially, that deal moved him into the top two on this list before Russell Wilson pushed him down a spot. Murray’s contract contains $103.3 million fully guaranteed upon signing and a total of $189.5 million in total guarantees.
The Cardinals will not see Murray’s salary cap number jump until 2024. In 2023, he is due to count for $16.007 million against the cap. A $36 million option bonus in 2023 and rolling guarantees make it hard to see how the Cardinals can move on from Murray until 2026 unless they can find a willing trade partner.
2) Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos | AAV: $49 million
After being traded to the Denver Broncos, Wilson signed a five-year contract extension worth $49 million a year. That shot him up to second on this list, from just inside the top 10 highest-paid NFL QBs previously. The contract contains $124 million fully guaranteed and $161 million in total guarantees.
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The good news for the Broncos is that Wilson will count just $22 million against their salary cap in 2023. However, with that cap hit jumping to $35.4 million in 2024 and then over $50 million from 2025 onwards, Denver will be hoping for a marked improvement in Wilson’s performances than we saw in 2022.
1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers | AAV: $50.3 million
Aaron Rodgers’ contract feels like one we talk about every single year. After much debate regarding his future in Green Bay last offseason, he agreed to a three-year extension worth a massive $150.815 million. That made Rodgers the first player to top the $50 million per year AAV mark.
What we know right now is that Rodgers is the highest-paid QB in the league based on AAV and that he is likely to play in 2023. Beyond that, things are uncertain.
The Packers have little wiggle room, with Rodgers still owed close to $60 million in guaranteed money in 2023. They could trade him, and if they can do it before they exercise his option bonus in 2023, the price to do so is not all that extortionate ($40.314 million in dead money).