Two positional markets around the NFL were thrown for a loop in the lead up to the start of the regular season this week.
It started with Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff netting a four-year, $134 million extension with a record $110 million in total guarantees on Tuesday.
One day later, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ended his lengthy holdout. It comes in the form of a record-breaking deal for a running back at $90 million over six seasons with $50 million in guarantees.
Needless to say, other quarterbacks and running backs in line for extensions have these two to thank for their coming paydays. Here’s a look at five players who benefited the most from these record-breaking extensions.
Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants
The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year won’t be eligible for an extension until after the 2020 season. That’s the nature of the beast under the current collective bargaining agreement. Players under rookie deals are simply limited until they’ve accumulated three seasons.
With that said, Elliott’s extension sets a baseline for Barkley when he becomes eligible in 2021. Given that the NFL running back market doesn’t reset at the rate of other positions, Elliott’s deal is a floor for Barkley. The better news for New York’s most-talented player is that his status as a top-two pick dramatically alters negotiations. After all, Barkley’s average cap hit over the next three seasons is $8-plus million.
Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
Oh boy. We’re pretty darn sure that the Chiefs would have loved to extend Mahomes before seeing Jared Goff and Carson Wentz sign absurd long-term deals. Mahomes is the future face of the NFL and the reigning league MVP. Those two do not compare in any way to what Mahomes brings to the table.
Mahomes will become eligible for an extension after this season. It’s a deal that’s going to change the entire dynamic of the quarterback market as we know it. There’s no reason to believe that the star signal caller and his agent, Leigh Steinberg, won’t want to change the entire quarterback pay structure leading up to the end of the collective bargaining agreement. Look for $200 million over five seasons with a vast majority of that fully guaranteed.
Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Houston Texans
Yet another player eligible for an extension after this season, Watson has to be doing cartwheels after seeing these record-breaking extensions. Is he as proven as Goff? No. But the baseline for any deal has to be what Goff received from the Rams. As the quarterback market continues to reset itself on a near-monthly basis, those in line for new deals will take advantage of supply/demand and market inflation.
Watson will get his after leading Houston to the division title last season. As long as he doesn’t regress, it should be a payday north of $35 million annually with $120-plus million in guarantees.
Alvin Kamara, running back, New Orleans Saints
One of the best dual-threat running backs in the game today, Kamara has tallied an absurd 3,146 total yards and 31 touchdowns in just two NFL seasons. He’s the face of the Saints’ franchise with recently-extended fellow youngster, wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Thomas should also act as a harbinger of things to come for Kamara. The receiver just signed a record-breaking five-year, $96.25 million extension with $60.60 million in total guarantees. The Saints are not afraid to pay their young stars. Look for a deal next offseason, when Kamara becomes eligible, that surpasses what Elliott received from Dallas.
Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
Some might conclude that Elliott’s extension is a bad omen for Prescott. After all, the Cowboys found it necessary to hand their running back a record-breaking deal. Think about that for a second. What does this mean regarding the Cowboys’ brass and its confidence in Prescott to be a true franchise quarterback?
That’s all fine and dandy. However, Goff’s extension underscores the necessity for teams to lock up their young quarterbacks on long-term deals. And in comparison to Carson Wentz, Prescott has a much better track record. What does this all mean? The fourth-year quarterback is looking at a deal that will meet his asking price of $35 million annually. Goff’s extension pretty much guaranteed this.