Kansas City Chief superstar Patrick Mahomes will be the talk of the town for a while. Signing a lucrative 10-year extension worth up to $503 million, the 2018 MVP will dazzle and destroy the AFC in Chiefs Kingdom until the year 2031, at least. With a remake of how quarterback contracts will be structured, the question now turns to which other gunslingers can grab a hefty payday.
Any player in a 12-year deal is risky due to a multitude of reasons. Age, performance, supporting cast, and injuries will factor into it, causing a roller coaster of questions and concerns on the dotted line. Then again, Mahomes isn’t any quarterback; in fact, far from it.
Under Andy Reid’s offense in two full seasons, what now looks like the “steal” of the 2017 NFL Draft, Mahomes has already hoisted MVP honors and a Lombardi Trophy. He’s also one of two members to reach the 5,000-yard/50-touchdown single-season club alongside Peyton Manning. Throw in the supporting cast on both sides of the ball; the Chiefs’ 2019 season wasn’t a one-year wonder – making them a contender for the foreseeable future.
Even Tom Brady needed Manning to keep him humble, so who could become the arch-nemesis in the salary cap game against Mahomes long-term?
Which quarterback could earn a 12-year contract?
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson
Let’s go back to draft night in April of 2017. Two picks after the Chiefs traded up to grab Mahomes, Houston pulled the trigger to add Deshaun Watson to their franchise. Despite an injured-filled rookie campaign, the Rick Smith era will always end on a positive note so long as the Clemson product remains at NRG Drive.
Two defenders tackling Deshaun Watson … and he STILL got the pass off 😮
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 3, 2019
Few quarterbacks are as mobile and accurate and possess the mind needed under center like Watson has shown thus far. The 24-year-old had taken Houston to back to back AFC South titles while working behind an abysmal offensive line. Throwing for nearly 10,000 yards, 71 touchdowns and proven his ability to lead a comeback, Watson shows why he and Mahomes should be the next great duo to duke it out over the next decade.
With DeAndre Hopkins gone, if Watson continues to lead Houston in the now winnable division, Bill O’Brien will be forced to pay up – and don’t expect any discount to come from Watson’s camp.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson
When you win an award, talk starts flying around. It’s too early to declare Lamar Jackson the next “it” factor in the league, but another season with a team looking to contend now should push the narrative on a lengthy contract. Jackson led the NFL with 36 touchdowns, over 3,100 passing yards, and setting a new single-season rushing record for a quarterback.
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Jackson’s surge to Michael Vick stardom could be the future of the sport. The two concerns a general manager would have would be his leg usage and clutch factor. As the body wears down, Jackson will need to rely on his arm strength and accuracy instead of breaking into the field. The clutchness could come with age as the 23-year-old is 0-2 in postseason play.
— NFL (@NFL) December 13, 2019
Mahomes won the hardware in year two, the Championship in year three, and grabbed a contract before year four. Jackson’s already nabbed one of the three honors, and his exciting action-filled offense could lead him down a similar path sooner than the fans think.
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott
A deal wasn’t made at the deadline for the franchise-tagged Dak Prescott. Now, both parties are taking a risk, hoping that a deal can be met in the future, a Kirk Cousins 2.0 won’t be occurring at “The Star”. If Mike McCarthy’s squad is legit and looks to be the NFC representative for 2020, Prescott will be paid. If the former fourth-round prospect picks up an MVP or title along the way, there’s going to be a conversation on putting him up on that pedestal near Patrick.
TOUCHDOWN COWBOYS! Dak runs it in!
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 23, 2018
Make no mistake; Prescott should have been paid by now. A four-year starter who’s never missed a snap, the former Bulldog has thrown for over 15,000 yards and 98 touchdowns while heading to a pair of playoff outings. Granted, he’s gone 1-2 all-time, but Dallas has also yet to fall below the .500 mark with No.4 calling the shots.
Prescott and the Cowboys’ inability to agree on a deal now puts Dallas in danger of coughing up more cash. Any progression from the signal-caller only adds more dollars to the end of the paystub. If Jerry Jones finally wins a Super Bowl for the first time in 25 years, Dak is getting the dough.
Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson
Prescott is 26, while Watson and Jackson are 24 and 23, respectively. The trend is for young quarterbacks to receive massive deals that will eventually look like gem contracts long-term. That said, there’s always an old dog to contend with the likes of the cool kids. Look no further than Russell Wilson to earn another deal in his lifetime.
The 31-year-old Wilson is the definition of a proven winner. Since being taken in the third round back in 2012, the Seahawks have yet to see a losing season. Wilson has also thrown for 25-plus touchdowns six times and has only thrown double-digit interceptions thrice. If that wasn’t enough, Wilson hasn’t missed a snap playing behind some of the worst offensive lines of the mid-2010s.
The fact that Wilson still has yet to win an MVP is mind-boggling. What’s perhaps even crazier is his ability to stay healthy and in shape after eight seasons. Much like Tom Brady, the game will end on Wilson’s terms, so expect him to be around for quite some time.
Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz
The only thing keeping the Eagles starter off that list is the injuries. Despite an immense amount of success for Carson Wentz entering the final year of his rookie deal, there’s always going to be the question of what will give out first – his spirit or body. Two seasons with somewhat concerning injuries have the odds leaning on the latter.
Wentz last season was one of the few positives for Philadelphia’s offense. With over 14,000 yards and nearly 100 touchdowns, the former No.2 pick has been consistent under center although he’s missed time. If he can remain healthy, it’s not insane to believe that the then 32-year-old would be up for another decade in the City of Brotherly Love.
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray
One season isn’t enough to crown a player a generational talent. For Kyler Murray, it at least will allow him to start looking ahead of what could be in the future. After turning down baseball to go No.1 in 2019, the Kliff Kingsbury-Murray marriage is off to promising results. The 2018 Heisman winner threw for over 3,700 yards and 22 touchdowns while capturing Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
— Ohandsixteen Sports (@oh_and_sixteen) November 1, 2019
The Cardinals’ offensive line still has woes, but Murray’s playstyle might be more recluse than Jackson’s. The offensive arsenal could only become more reliable in 2020 with the addition of Hopkins and the hopeful rebound season for Hakeem Butler. If Murray’s touchdown ratio climbs and his interceptions drop, Arizona has their future star and eventually will have to pay him like one.
Denver Broncos: Drew Lock
Drew Lock was all flash last season during his final five-game run. Going 4-1 while throwing seven touchdowns in the process, the Mizzou standout is set to take the next leap entering a brand new decade. The arm strength certainly is there, but there are questions regarding other attributes Lock will need to address.
The 23-year-old finished with an 89.0 QBR rating last season and had several scores missed due to overshooting the target. His 64.1 completion rating might be far-fetched, and five games aren’t enough to go off. The upside for Lock is exceptional thanks to a surprisingly talented core in the making. Much like the AFC West rival, the arm strength could be leading to a hefty check in the future.