NFL 2023 Offseason Resets the Market for Quarterbacks

John Divuolo
Staff Writer

With all of the superstar talent in the NFL, there are a lot of players competing for some of the biggest contracts in the sport. This has become a growing issue though. Some players that are considered overpaid by fans, tend to set the market too high for players who are more deserving of those large contracts. One position where this has become prevalent is the quarterback position where Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens have all signed contract extensions with their respective teams this past offseason resetting the market for how a quarterback is valued in the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson (Daron Cummings/Associated Press)

Burrow has become the highest paid NFL player of all time with a five-year, $275 million contract he signed with the Bengals just days before the 2023 season began. Burrow’s skill and athleticism as well as his ability to lead the Bengals deep into the playoffs the past two seasons are some of the main reasons Cincinnati made him the highest paid player in the league. Herbert also joined the top-ten highest paid athletes club. Jackson’s contract negotiations were the most public and strenuous of the three newly paid quarterbacks. Jackson has missed a considerable time with injury the past few seasons but his playmaking ability as well as the MVP award he won in 2019 (the second unanimous MVP decision ever) forced Baltimore’s hand.
The reason the values of these three quarterbacks shot up so fast was due to the questionable contract decisions the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos made when acquiring quarterbacks DeShaun Watson and Russell Wilson, respectively. Watson was under a lot of public scrutiny at the time that he was acquired by Cleveland form the Houston Texans due to sexual assault allegations. Not only did Watson’s value seem questionable with his off-field allegations, the allegations had forced Watson to

Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShaun Watson (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

miss a full season with Houston, bringing up questions of whether Watson would play to the ability he had shown in his peak seasons with the Texans. These concerns grew more rampant when Watson returned from suspension and played for Cleveland last season in the first year under his new contract, as his performance was lackluster and well short of what he had shown in Houston. The Browns organization arguably ruined the entire market for quarterbacks because if Deshaun Watson is getting paid the amount of money that he is, then other quarterbacks who have shown similar or superior ability the past few seasons such as Burrow, Herbert, and Jackson, will not settle for less than Watson when negotiating their contracts.
This leads to the question of whether every NFL team should be worrying about paying the top tier quarterbacks in order to keep their team in intention. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy took the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship after being picked with the last overall pick in the previous draft, and the 49ers instead allocated their salaries to high profile players at positions that get paid less than quarterbacks allowing them to form a deep and formidable roster. The Denver Broncos are surely second guessing their decision to give a massive contract to Russell Wilson, as well. Wilson was once one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during his time with the Seattle Seahawks but since joining Denver he has been mediocre. Now, he is getting paid higher than most quarterbacks and he is not performing at those standards. Some contract extensions were good, with their being a reasonable case of why those players deserve that high of pay. Others are lacking in the talent that they once had and some may say that they even broke the market for quarterbacks.

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