Last offseason, the Indianapolis Colts gave quarterback Andrew Luck the richest contract in NFL history. It was a six-year, $140 million deal that was essentially a five-year deal worth nearly $123 million added on to the final year of his rookie contract.
That average salary of $24.6 million per year puts Luck at the top of the NFL, but that might not last long.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Oakland Raiders and Derek Carr are close to a new deal that would pay the quarterback around $25 million per year. Schefter wrote that Carr “will become one of the game's highest-paid players, if not the highest, in terms of annual average salary” and also added that Carr’s deal is expected to be “right in that neighborhood” of Luck’s average salary.
So it sounds like it’s not entirely clear at this point whether Carr will surpass Luck’s mark as the highest average salary, but given the fact that it’s expected to be so close I’d think that he probably will get slightly more. No quarterback has signed a deal averaging $25 million per year before, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it happens - and it could be very soon with Carr.
Since being drafted in the second round by the Raiders in 2014, Carr has certainly impressed. In his second year, he completed 61.1% of his passes for 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns with 13 picks for a 91.1 rating, and then he followed that up last year by completing 63.8% of his passes for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions for a 96.7 passer rating. He’s made two Pro Bowls and last year was in the MVP conversation, and he figures to keep getting better.
The significance of this news for Colts fans is that it should help realize that Luck’s deal really isn’t that bad at all. He’s a terrific quarterback who has been better than Carr during his time in the NFL, and yet his deal isn’t killing the Colts. For example, this year Luck has a cap hit of just $19.4 million, which equates to just 11.6% of the salary cap. Though Luck’s cap hit continues to increase over the next few years, so will the cap. And because the cap keeps going up, it means that more and more players will keep getting higher contracts. It shouldn’t be any surprise, therefore, that Luck’s reign atop the NFL’s average salary charts might be short-lived, because in a league with a continually rising cap, players will keep earning more and more. And if Luck keeps playing like he did in 2016, he’ll earn every penny of his deal.