Jalen Hurts Signs Record Setting NFL Contract

The Eagles and Jalen Hurts agreed to a contract that will average an NFL record $51 million per year over five seasons, potentially keeping him in an Eagles uniform through 2028. Hurts received $179.304 million in injury guarantees of which about $110 million is fully guaranteed at signing.

Hurts was in a unique situation as a non-first round pick looking to sign an extension which would make him the highest paid player in the NFL. There have only been a handful of recent players who pulled that off on their first veteran contract. I believe the most recent was Derek Carr back in 2017 when he signed a five year contract that averaged $25 million per season. Hurts, like Carr, did not set the market in terms of guaranteed salary which is where one of the challenges comes into play with such contracts.

As a 2nd round pick, Hurts existing base salary in his rookie contract is very low compared to a top pick. Hurts was scheduled to earn $4.304 million this year. Kyler Murray, a top draft pick, was set to earn $29.7 million in the final year of his contract. Because of the disparity that exists between the two player salaries the guarantees are often going to be less for the lower drafted player simply because the team was on the hook for so little ahead of time. This is where the concept of new money guarantees can be important.

In Murray’s case his extension, which carries $160 million in guarantees, really only represented a $124.8 million increase over existing salary and is the real portion of the risk taken on by the Cardinals. For Hurts the new guarantee in the contract is $175 million, which is a huge leap up from the current market and a huge number for the Eagles. By far the second most in the NFL. This is an example of why I think new guarantees are really the way we should be discussing contracts rather than total guarantees.

The Eagles had about $20 million in cap space prior to this signing and little flexibility so my assumption would be that the raise this year is on the light side. The team recently created more cap room for future years with a restructure of LT Jordan Mailata’s contract, which should mean more room for a bigger salary in 2024. Given that this is the Eagles the expectation would be option bonuses in both 2024 and 2025 and possibly an option also in 2026.

The Eagles did include a no trade clause which is a little surprising given how their last quarterback signing worked out, but I think it is a safe assumption that if you are happy with your QB you are never trading him and if you are not happy with him, well odds are nobody is going to want to trade for him anyway. Still that does allow Hurts to control more with his future if things did go south.

Hurts’ $51 million per year deal represents a $2 million per year increase over Russell Wilson’s contract and nearly a $5 million per year leap over Murray’s. This should set the stage for the first $55 million per year QB to sign at some point in the next year. Whomever is the next man up (Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, or Justin Herbert) will probably land between $53 and $54 million and the next to sign should hit $55 million. This contract should fully put to bed the narrative that the Deshaun Watson contract has any meaning for a player looking for a contract extension and it also solidifies the length of contract at a minimum of 5 new years for future extensions for young players.

I will do a more complete breakdown of the contract once the numbers all come out in the next day or two.