PHILADELPHIA – Call it a race to the finish line with the prize being the ability to fork over $50 million or so per season to an emerging star at the quarterback position.
Massive extensions are coming for Jalen Hurts, as well as Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and the LA Chargers’ Justin Herbert, the marquee names eligible for extensions this offseason for the first time. Miami’s Tua Tagavailoa is also in that category but troubling concussion concerns make his future a little murkier.
While none of the organizations in this equation will be getting off easily from a financial perspective, there is a sense of urgency to get things done because the subsequent contracts will be using the first domino as a launching point to go higher.
The Eagles understand this better than most and try to be proactive in most circumstances. Former team president Joe Banner predicted a Hurts extension would be anywhere from $47 million to $52 million when it came to average annual value with the guaranteed money using Kyler Murray’s $189.5 million as the starting point for negotiations.
Spotrac.com’s valuation of Hurts’ next deal is a little bit lighter at six years and $265,373,424 million, an AAV of $44.2M.
Whoever goes first could become the highest-paid player in NFL history for a short time until the next trumps it.
Hurts is the only one in the conversation who wasn’t a first-round pick and has only one season left on his rookie deal which should add a layer to the Eagles’ urgency vs. the Bengals and Chargers, who each have the luxury of the fifth-round option to play with. Of course, Hurts has also yet to make really big money because of his draft pedigree so going the Lamar Jackson betting-on-one’s-self route becomes more difficult without the significant salary spike the fifth-year option for first-round selections provides.
For now, Hurts is scheduled to make $4,303,000 in 2023, a nice bump from the $1.15M he made as the runner-up to MVP Patrick Mahomes this season but it’s self-evident why the QB1 would also like to get something down this offseason.
“Obviously, we want to keep our best players here for the long term,” GM Howie Roseman said when asked about a potential Hurts extension on Thursday. “And he’s certainly one of our best players. So that’s something we’ll keep all the contract talks internal but we’d definitely like to keep Jalen Hurts here long-term.”
At Super Bowl Opening Night owner Jeffrey Lurie said Hurts “had nothing left to prove,” but the star QB did anyway having one of the best big games in history, albeit in a losing effort.
One thing that won’t give the Eagles pause is the last time they were in this position and have Carson Wentz the biggest contract in history at the time of his extension.
“I think each example is on its own. And you’ve got to look at the individual player, and that’s not to be critical to anyone we’ve given a contract to that hasn’t worked out,” said Roseman. “But I think when we talk about Jalen [Hurts], we’re talking about a guy we have tremendous confidence in, a guy that we want to be here for a long time. And so, it will be something that will be a priority for us.”
Whenever the extension comes, it will signal a shift when it comes to roster building, however. As adept as Roseman and VP of Football Administration Jake Rosenberg are at structuring contracts, finding contributors on rookie deals becomes paramount.
“I think we have obviously a large number of free agents that we knew going [into 2022],” Roseman explained. “I think when we looked at this team – and we always look at this team over not just this year but over a period of time – we knew we needed to get additional picks. That’s one of the reasons that we made the trade last year was to make sure we have picks going forward.
“And even though maybe we don’t have the amount of picks this year, we have a bunch of high picks. And then next year, we’re going to have a tremendous amount of picks. We already have two additional picks from two trades that we made.”
Then came the hint.
“And just by the sheer number of the free agents, we’re going to have comp picks next year,” Roseman foreshadowed. “Even if we signed a bunch of guys, we are going to have comp picks next year. So, I think we go into it with that understanding that it’s going to be impossible to keep every single person on this team.
“But we’re here to compete.”
And Roseman understands an NFC Championship one year doesn’t mean anything the next.
“I’ve heard this week, you know, ‘we’ll be back.’ Just because we say it doesn’t mean it. We’ve got to make that happen,” Roseman said. “I take great pride in trying to do my part.”