The NFL rarely sees many quality quarterbacks hit the open market, with most signing a long-term contract extension with their current team. There might be some back-and-forth that suggests a deal won’t get done, but in the end, most high end quarterbacks never hit the open market.
I don’t expect that to change much, but the going rate for a high quality quarterback is going to get very interesting over the next 9-12 months. There are a host of quarterbacks entering their walk year this fall. Drew Brees has the best resume of them, but would likely sign elsewhere for a two-year deal, maaaaaaybe three years. It will be a sizable chunk of change, but for the time being we’ll move past him.
The big names are Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Derek Carr. Cousins is heading into his second straight season under the franchise tag. Stafford is entering the final season of a five-year, $76.5 million contract extension signed in 2013. Carr is entering the final season of his four-year rookie deal, and as a second-round pick, there is no fifth year option.
We’ve talked plenty about Cousins, but his value will be intertwined with Stafford and Carr. If all three have a solid season, it will be interesting to see the order in which they sign. Carr and Stafford deserve bigger deals than Cousins, but depending on when they sign, Cousins could end up with the bigger dollar figure.
Recently, NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport discussed Carr’s contract negotiations.
There is no progress right now, and with Oakland being able to use the franchise tag next offseason, there is no rush. My guess is Stafford gets a deal done before the 2018 league year, whether the deal happens now, during the upcoming season, or next year before the new league year officially starts. Cousins would likely be next, but that depends on what happens with Washington. There is talk things are getting a bit better between Cousins and the organization, but we have not heard where they are on numbers.
This all then leaves Carr, who could end up playing on the franchise tag. Rapoport talked about Carr potentially being the first $25 million quarterback, but it very well could be one of the others. And technically, Brees could get $25 million or more per year on a shorter deal. But my guess is either Cousins or Carr end up with the biggest total contract package in NFL history.
The 49ers will potentially be in the market for a quarterback when next March arrives. If any of this group other than Cousins is available on the open market at that point, it would be stunning. If the Raiders do not extend Carr, they will almost assuredly use the exclusive franchise tag. I would suspect Detroit would do something similar, but I still think they get a deal done first.
Price really is no object for the 49ers for the time being, but the more Stafford and Carr potentially get, the more Cousins could ask for from Washington. That could move him into the open market that much quicker.