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How recent QB contracts impact Jared Goff and the Lions

It’s been a busy week on the quarterback contract front around the NFL. Three veterans signed new deals before the league’s free agency period kicks off next week.

The fresh QB contracts carry some major connotations for the Detroit Lions and their own veteran signal-caller, Jared Goff. While Goff is set for 2023, he’ll command contractual attention following the next season–especially if he has another impressive campaign in his third season in Detroit.

There is no doubt Goff and his representation will look to the deals signed by Geno Smith, Derek Carr and Daniel Jones as guides for their desires and demands in No. 16’s next contract.

Daniel Jones

Jones signed the biggest deal, cashing in just before the franchise tag deadline and returning to the New York Giants. It’s a four-year deal for $160 million and $82 million fully guaranteed.

Here’s what we know about Jones’ deal with New York, via Giants Wire:

The deal is for four years and $160 million. NBC Sports Edge is also reporting that the deal contains $35 million in incentives and multiple NFL insiders are reporting that $82 million of the $160 million is guaranteed over the first two years.

In total, the deal could be worth up to $195 million in total.

Breaking that down for practical purposes, Jones will get $40 million a year for four years, with just over 50 percent of the deal guaranteed. There are incentives that can escalate the deal to $195 million total over the four years.

Geno Smith

Smith re-upped with the Seahawks for three years and $105 million, capitalizing on his NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign in 2022. The long-time backup scored a $40 million signing bonus that is fully guaranteed.

We don’t have the exact structure of the deal just yet, but Spotrac is reporting that the deal is technically worth $75 million over three years with another $30 million in incentives. The first season salary of $28 million is also fully guaranteed according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. That means at least $58 million, or 55 percent, is guaranteed.

Derek Carr

Carr signed with the New Orleans Saints after being released by the Raiders after nine seasons. On the surface, it’s a four-year deal worth $150 million. Of that total, $100 million is guaranteed, or 66 percent.

In reality, it’s a deal that’s closer to three years and $100 million, a figure that includes his $28 million signing bonus — which is fully guaranteed and amortized over the life of the contract. There is also an automatic void year at the end to spread out the cap hit even longer.

Much like Goff’s current deal with the Lions, the final year is effectively meaningless; New Orleans will either move on from Carr or restructure the deal before that $50 million salary in 2026 locks in.

John Sigler of Saints Wire broke down the financial structure and cap implications of Carr’s deal nicely,

2023: $7,200,000 salary cap hit ($1,500,000 base salary, $5,700,000 signing bonus proration)
2024: $35,700,000 salary cap hit ($30,000,000 base salary, $5,700,000 signing bonus proration)
2025: $45,700,000 salary cap hit ($30,000,000 base salary, $5,700,000 signing bonus proration, $10,000,000 roster bonus)
2026: $55,700,000 salary cap hit ($50,000,000 base salary, $5,700,000 signing bonus proration)
2027: $5,700,000 salary cap hit (Contract voids, leaving $5,700,000 behind in dead money from signing bonus proration)

Lions impact

From the Lions’ standpoint, the 2025 salary structure for Carr is relevant. Carr’s $30 million salary is fully guaranteed in March of that year. It’s their “out”, much in the way the upcoming 2023 campaign was Detroit’s “out” with Goff.

Expect any Goff extension to feature that sort of structure in the penultimate season (the 3rd year of a 4-year deal, the 4th year of a 5-year contract, etc.). The Lions would need to decide before that season’s free agency period whether or not to guarantee the huge salary and commit to Goff for another season.

Also, expect any new Goff deal to surpass the total value and guaranteed money value of any of this trio. Goff can rightfully claim to be a better, more consistently valuable player than Jones, Smith or Carr. Plus, those salaries never come down for any quarterback who is worthy of commitment for that level of time.

With Smith at $35 million a year average, Carr at $37.5 million and Jones at $40 million, it’s fair to presume Goff will command at least $42.5 million per year. The signing bonus figures to be at least the value of the first season.

With 60 percent guaranteed of a hypothetical but realistic four-year, $170 million deal, the Lions would be committing $102 million–at minimum–for Goff. Creative accounting can backload some of that cap hit, but it all has to be accounted for over the time of the deal.

That annual value of a contract would place Goff between Dak Prescott and Josh Allen at 7th on the quarterback salary value ladder, based on current contracts. Lamar Jackson’s next contract figures to surpass that value as well.

If the Lions aren’t willing to commit to that range of salary for Goff, or worry that the QB and his agent will demand even more if he’s as good in 2023 as he was in 2022, things could get complicated in Detroit.


Brad Holmes leaves no doubt about Jared Goff: ‘He’s our starter’

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire

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