This is a deal that has been anticipated for more than a year now by people around the NFL. Agents have been drooling in anticipation of a contract they believed would set new benchmarks and really drive the top of the quarterback market upward for the first time in years. Team executives have been watching to see how much of his considerable leverage Luck would wield against the Colts.
The answer? Not that much.
Look, there’s no crying for Luck here. The numbers set several records. The $87 million in injury guarantees ($47 million of which is guaranteed at signing) far surpasses the $65 million that Eli Manning Jerseys got last year. The $23.3 million a year surpasses Aaron Rodgers’ Jerseys $22 million and Joe Flacco’s Jerseys $22.133 million. The $140 million total surpasses Jay Cutler’s Jerseys $126.7 million.
But it’s not as great as it was supposed to be. The average salary is less than the $25 million many were predicting. The $47 million at signing is $13 million less than Ndamukong Suh got. Pushing off $27 million of the guarantee into the third and fourth years is seen by people around the league as too risky to the player. It’s a nice deal, not a great one.
In fact, it helps keep a surprisingly stagnant portion of the NFL marketplace stagnant.
The quarterback position really hasn’t kept pace with recent salary-cap growth. Since Rodgers signed his contract in 2013, the NFL’s salary cap has risen from $123 million to $155.27 million — an increase of 26.2 percent. Even counting Luck’s new deal, over that same time period, the top quarterback salary has risen 5.9 percent.
Why? Well, I’ve been asking agents and executives that question over the past few weeks in anticipation of a Luck deal, and they all say the same thing. Quarterback is the ultimate leadership position. How does it look in the locker room if you insist on setting records and eating up all the cap space? Remember last year, when Manning got so upset about a report that he wanted to make more than Rodgers made? He didn’t, a source said, and he hated that someone would suggest he did. This is the way these guys think — especially those like Manning and Ben Roethlisberger Jerseys, who have won their Super Bowls and made their big second-contract money already.
But Luck should have been different. Luck should have raked the Colts over the coals. If ever a player were going to take a stand and demand the league’s first fully guaranteed veteran deal, this was the guy to do it. He didn’t even come close.
No time soon will any player wield the kind of leverage Luck had over the Colts. He’s universally recognized as a unique all-around talent — a respected leader with a brilliant brain, a huge arm and swift feet. He’s exactly the humble, half-goofy, badly bearded face of the franchise that the Colts want him to be. They’d be toast without him, and while yes, they could have franchised him next year for something in the low $20 million range, at some point he would have been able to threaten to leave.
Instead, like so many of his quarterback brethren before him, Luck chose to take the very pretty bird in the hand over the potentially historic bonanza in the bush. Tough to blame him, but if you’re a quarterback looking for a big deal in the coming years, he did kind of let you down.
Drew Brees Jerseys has one year left on his Saints deal. He could conceivably ask for more than Luck, but it would have been far sweeter for him if Luck were sitting at $25 million a year than $23.3 million. Kirk Cousins Jerseys could be in for a big payday if he plays out 2016 on his franchise tag number and has a big season. But how will he be able to argue for more than Luck next March? He was looking forward to drafting and slotting in behind Luck’s number the way guys like Manning, Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson Jerseys were slotting in behind Rodgers not long ago. That slot was supposed to be more stratospheric than this.
We don’t know who from the group of very young, promising quarterbacks on their first contracts will end up looking for cheap nfl jerseys top-of-the-market deals. Jameis Winston Jerseys? Blake Bortles Jerseys? Derek Carr Jerseys? Marcus Mariota Jerseys? Jared Goff Jerseys? One of them, maybe a few of them. But whoever they are, when their time comes, it appears they’ll be stuck in a quarterback market that doesn’t seem to want to skyrocket. And if Luck plays the way the Colts and the rest of the world think he can, then those players’ teams can hold Luck out as an outlier to whom they don’t have the right to compare themselves.
If anybody was going to blast through the ceiling of the NFL quarterback jerseys market, it was going to be Andrew Luck. Instead, he settled for just nudging it upward a bit.
The Colts announced Wednesday that Luck has signed an extension through the 2021 season that will make him the highest-paid player in the NFL, based on guaranteed salary.
Sources told ESPN that Luck is guaranteed $87 million with this extension. The previous most-guaranteed money for any NFL player was $65 million for both Eli Manning Jerseys of the New York Giants Jerseys and Philip Rivers Jerseys of the San Diego Chargers Jerseys.
“I am thrilled and excited to continue with this great organization,” Luck said in a statement. “I am thankful to the Irsay family and Mr. Irsay for providing me with this great opportunity and the trust that they’ve shown in me. I can’t wait for this season to start.”
The No. 1 pick in 2012 out of Stanford, Luck took the NFL by storm the moment he stepped onto the field. He made the franchise’s transition from Peyton Manning Jerseys a smooth one by leading the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, including the AFC Championship Game in 2014 and back-to-back AFC South titles.
Luck has the fourth-most passing yards (14,838) by any quarterback in his first four seasons in NFL history. He also is the fourth quarterback with at least 100 touchdown passes through four years, including an NFL-leading 40 in 2014.
But Luck isn’t immune to struggles.
The 26-year-old is coming off the worst season of his four-year NFL career, completing just 55.3 percent of his pass attempts and committing 13 turnovers in 2015. He also showed he’s not invincible. He missed two games early in the year due to a rib injury, and then he missed the final seven when he suffered a lacerated kidney early in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos Jerseys in Week 9. He also dealt with shoulder and abdominal injuries.
For months, Irsay had said he hoped and expected this agreement would be done around the Fourth of July holiday, if not before training camp. His goal now has been achieved.
“The organization is excited about getting this deal done and getting it done before the 4th of July,” Irsay said. “It’s a big number. It was a deal that was fair deal for both sides taking into account being cap friendly, being reasonable in the last year in 2021.”
Luck was scheduled to make $16.155 million this season, the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
The Colts report to training camp July 26 at Anderson (Indiana) University.