Who are the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL in 2022?

Who are the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league entering the 2022 league year, and what is the AAV of each of the top 10 QBs?

The past two offseasons have seen the list of highest-paid quarterbacks change dramatically. Now, as we head into 2022, who tops the list, and which QBs make up the remainder of the top 10 highest-paid players at the position?

The highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL | 2-10

There are a number of ways with which to judge the value of a contract. However, for our purposes, we will be looking at the top 10 highest-paid QBs based on the annual average value (AAV) of the deal that they signed. Let’s take a look at which players make up the top 10 at the position.

10) Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (signed with the Los Angeles Rams) | AAV: $33.5 million

It seems as though Jared Goff’s contract looks worse and worse with every passing week. However, 2022 might be the last we see of the deal in terms of it being active. Due to a fully guaranteed $15.5 million roster bonus, it would cost the Lions $30.5 million in dead money to move on — a saving of just $650,000 compared to having him on the roster.

Next offseason, we should see the Lions move on from the deal. In the 2023 offseason, Goff will cost the Lions just $10 million in dead money. That would represent a saving of $20.65 million over his current cap number for the 2023 season.

T-8) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings | AAV: $35 million

Kirk Cousin’s contract has been much discussed over the last two years, and the Vikings are committed to another two years with him at least. His newest extension is for one year and is worth $35 million. The deal was fully guaranteed and carries cap numbers of $31.4 million in 2022 and $36.25 million in 2023.

There are two void years on the deal. If Cousin’s contract is allowed to void, he will count for $12.5 million in dead money against the Vikings’ salary cap in 2024. However, despite everything, his extension was enough to keep him on the list of highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

T-8) Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos | AAV: $35 million

The deal that Russell Wilson signed with the Seahawks was worth $140 million over four years. He received a $65 million signing bonus, and $70 million was fully guaranteed at signing. He played the first two years of the extension with the Seahawks before being traded to the Broncos. Wilson left $26 million in dead money with the Seahawks after being traded.

However, his contract with the Broncos is extremely team-friendly. Wilson will count just $24 million against the cap in 2022. That rises to just $27 million in 2023. Could we see Wilson as the next QB to get a big contract extension? If he does, he will likely move up the list of highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

T-6) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams | AAV: $40 million

After leading the Rams to a Super Bowl, Matthew Stafford signed a four-year contract worth $160 million. He received a $60 million signing bonus and $63 million in full guarantees. A total of $130 million can become guaranteed through vesting measures. His cap number is set to rise from $13.5 million in 2022 to $50.5 million in 2025.

T-6) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys | AAV: $40 million

Dak Prescott is now entering the second year of his four-year, $160 million contract that he signed last offseason. The Cowboys QB received a $66 million signing bonus and $126 million in total guarantees. The last of those guarantees (his 2023 salary) became so on March 20, 2022.

Prescott currently has a $34.45 million cap number this year. However, it would not be surprising if the Cowboys restructure the deal for a second time. There is $20 million in base salary that can be moved around as the Cowboys look to free up cap space.

5) Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders | AAV: $40.5 million

Derek Carr’s new three-year contract extension just sneaks in above that of both Prescott and Stafford. He receives $121.5 million in new money, totaling $141.25 million across the next four years. He will earn $100 million of that money over the next three seasons. It is somewhat of a surprise to see Carr as the fifth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL.

4) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills | AAV: $43 million

The numbers in Josh Allen’s contract are somewhat mind-boggling. And yet, they do not really get close to the numbers of the man atop the list of the highest-paid QBs in the NFL. Allen signed a six-year, $258 million contract extension, with $150 million in guaranteed money and a $16.5 million signing bonus.

His cap number of $16.4 million in 2022 may seem surprisingly low. However, that number is set to jump to $39.8 million in 2023 before climbing to $51.3 million by 2025. The guarantees on this deal are set to run until the 2025 season, but this contract will likely be restructured before we reach that point anyway. There is another $30 million of incentives in this deal. If they are all met, it would make this deal worth $48 million per year.

3) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs | AAV: $45 million

The 2022 season will be the first year of Patrick Mahomes’ massive 10-year, $450 million contract extension. The deal contained a relatively minor $10 million signing bonus but has $141.5 million in guarantees with a cleverly constructed rolling guarantee format. This season will see Mahomes’ cap number jump from $7.4 million in 2021 to $35.8 million in 2022, including a $27.4 million roster bonus.

The structure of Mahomes’ contract is extraordinary, as it includes huge roster bonuses each year that could easily be converted to signing bonuses to spread the cap hits. There are an additional $25 million in potential incentives that could make this deal worth $47.5 million per year if they are all met. When he signed the contract, Mahomes topped the list of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

2) Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans | AAV: $46 million

Following his trade to the Cleveland Browns, Deshaun Watson signed a new five-year contract. The deal is worth $230 million, all of which is fully guaranteed. The breakdown of the deal is intriguing. Watson carries a cap number of just $10.028 million in 2022. That then rises to $54.993 million in 2023, where it remains throughout the life of the deal.

Who is the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL?

It is somewhat rare for a QB to remain the highest paid in the league for two full offseasons, but that will likely be the case with the current leader. Let’s look at who sits atop the list and how the sticker number on his contract actually underplays the potential value.

1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers | AAV: $50.3 million

After much debate, Aaron Rodgers signed his new contract. The overall terms are somewhat complicated, but the headline is three years, $150.3 million. The five-year value of the contract is $186.75 million, but only two of those are new years at $123.8 million across the two. The deal contained a $40.8 million signing bonus and has $101.515 million guaranteed. His contract easily makes him the highest-paid QB and player in the league.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN


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