Which quarterback will be the next to get a fully-guaranteed deal?
The Browns gave quarterback Deshaun Watson a five-year, fully-guaranteed contract. Because they basically had to.
The Cardinals managed to sign quarterback Kyler Murray to a five-year extension with less than half of the $230.5 million value fully guaranteed. On one hand, Murray had far less leverage than Watson, who basically engineered a free-agency tour. On the other hand, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill either wouldn’t or couldn’t dump $170 million or so into escrow by the end of next March.
The next quarterback in line for a new contract is Lamar Jackson of the Ravens. Will he get a fully-guaranteed contract?
In March, after the Browns gave Watson his fully-guaranteed deal, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti spoke out against it, explaining that “it’ll make negotiations harder with others.” As in with Jackson.
Bisciotti, based on his comments, presumably doesn’t want to give Jackson a fully guaranteed deal, assuming that he even has the ability to plunk so much money into escrow.
If Jackson isn’t the next quarterback to get a fully-guaranteed deal, here’s who likely will: Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson benefits from the fact that Rob Walton and Greg Penner soon will buy the team. Walton has a net worth of nearly $70 billion. Walton can sneeze out the escrow check.
Besides, the Broncos already will be operating from a position of weakness, given what they gave up to get Wilson. Throw in the fact that Wilson’s agent, Mark Rodgers (who has one NFL client), typically drives a hard bargain on Wilson’s behalf, and Wilson likely will be the next quarterback to get every penny guaranteed from the moment he signs.
For other veteran quarterbacks, the ability to get fully-guaranteed contracts could hinge on playing for teams with ultra-rich owners. And that could be one way for certain teams to attract certain players. As more teams adopt Mike Tomlin’s position that they’d rather have volunteers than hostages, a quarterback looking for maximum security who plays for an owner who can’t or won’t provide it may decide to try to finagle a trade to an owner who will.
It likely wouldn’t be the deciding factor, but it can easily become an important consideration. Every penny of a massive deal guaranteed at signing, versus a long-term deal with guarantees that peter out in three years. Getting that kind of security is important. All things being equal, why wouldn’t a player want to have his contract fully guaranteed?
Wilson likely will want it. Wilson likely will get it.