Remember a few months ago when the Cowboys finally inked Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension? Four years and $160 million, which made him the second-highest paid player behind Patrick Mahomes and gave Prescott the most fully guaranteed money of anyone in the NFL. For Cowboys fans who had just suffered through a season in which Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci were throwing passes at various points in time, it was a welcome move. But the ink wasn’t even dry before various national media folks started arguing about whether or not Prescott was overpaid.
Well, it’s a little harder to make that case now. On Friday, the Buffalo Bills signed quarterback Josh Allen to a six-year contract extension worth a total of $258 million with $150 million of that guaranteed. That’s an average of $43 million a year, which puts him ahead of Prescott’s $40 million a year but still behind Mahomes’ $45 million a year. Still, Allen’s guaranteed money totals blew everyone else out of the water by comparison.
For Allen, the contract extension comes after he had a truly sensational season, where the former seventh-overall pick finished third in the NFL in QBR and second in EPA, as well as finishing top five in completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns. Allen’s great performance led the Bills to a 13-3 season, winning their division for the first time since 1995, and winning their first playoff game since 1995.
As good as Allen was, it was made all the more spectacular because of how poorly he had played in his first two seasons in the NFL, when he routinely finished near the bottom of the league in both QBR and EPA and had issues with his accuracy and ball security. His massive improvement for the 2020 season drastically altered the narrative around him and clearly the Bills felt the same way.
Allen’s extension also makes him the first of five first-round quarterbacks from the 2018 class to get a big, new contract. While it’s unlikely anyone will be paying top dollar soon for Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold, Allen’s new deal has upped the quarterback market for when Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield get ready to ink new deals. In Jackson’s case, he won the MVP award in his first season as the full-time starter and Baltimore has yet to miss the playoffs with him. Mayfield hasn’t been as statistically great, but he just led the Browns to their first playoff appearance since before the team was relocated to Baltimore and is a former first-overall draft pick. Even if Jackson and Mayfield don’t get bigger contracts than Allen, it seems likely that they’ll be in roughly the same neighborhood.
Which means that it’s highly likely that Prescott’s massive contract extension could soon place him at fifth among quarterbacks in terms of average annual value. And that’s assuming that there aren’t any other quarterbacks outside of the 2018 class who ink big deals as well, although we could very well see that happen with guys like Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, and maybe even Deshaun Watson.
In other words, Dak hasn’t even played a single down of football yet and his contract - which some said was a massive overpay - is already taking a tumble down the rankings of highest paid players. It’s not surprising in the least, as this trend has been going on for quite a while, but it’s just further proof that locking a franchise quarterback up at the earliest convenience is almost always a good idea due to the ever-inflating market for quarterbacks relative to the dangerously low supply of such a valuable commodity.
And while Stephen Jones has already admitted that he made a mistake in waiting as long as he did to extend Prescott, the fact of the matter is that the deal got done. Jones can now take solace in the knowledge that he’s already scored a bargain, and it’ll only look better as time progresses and more quarterbacks sign new deals. So sit back and enjoy the show, especially with the regular season fast approaching.