How Jared Goff’s Contract Impacts Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love and Brock Purdy

The Lions signal-caller is now part of the $50 million club, and the other three QBs would be justified in asking for deals in the same range. Plus, more on the Odell Beckham Jr. and Antoine Winfield Jr. deals, and the NFL schedule release.
Goff is now one of five quarterbacks in the NFL making an average of $50 million per year.
Goff is now one of five quarterbacks in the NFL making an average of $50 million per year. / Eric Seals / USA TODAY NETWORK

OTAs are just days away. Oh, and they’re announcing games or something tomorrow, too …


Jared Goff’s four-year, $212 million extension will have reverberations on the quarterback market, for sure, and we’ll get to those. But it’s important to start here—what a phenomenal story. And to tell that story you really do need to go back to 2021, when then-new Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes were tasked with moving Matthew Stafford, and found a partner in the Los Angeles Rams.


Goff’s stock couldn’t have been lower at that point. After weeks of speculation, with the Rams steadily messaging they might be looking around at quarterback, Goff’s big contract, signed less than 17 months earlier, was part of the deal that brought Stafford to Los Angeles. And “contract,” at the time, was the key word, with Goff’s inclusion in a deal that also sent two first-round picks and a third-rounder to Detroit widely seen as a salary dump.


Holmes, who’d been with Goff in L.A., swore it wasn’t. Campbell, who’d been immensely impressed with Goff’s composure in the 2018 NFC title game (Cambell was on the wrong end of that one as a Saints assistant) at the Superdome, said the same things. And it turned out, it was a lot more than just lip service.


In fact, with the Lions continuing to show their belief in the former No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, they were getting a level of performance not far off from what Stafford gave the Rams, if off at all. Stafford has Goff in yards per game (266.8–255.4) over the past three years, but Goff has a better passer rating (96.5–95.8) and has thrown for more touchdowns (78–75) and fewer interceptions (27–36) than Stafford over that span, and he’s been more durable, too.


His new deal, at $53 million per year, is also $13 million more per year, at least on paper, than the extension Stafford did two years ago—with both of those deals done with a year left on existing deals.


Now, to be sure, Stafford has been awesome for the Rams. He’s won a Super Bowl, and that makes the trade a roaring success, end of story. Beyond just that, he was great last year, leading a rebuilding roster carrying $75 million in dead money to the playoffs. So in no way is this meant to denigrate Stafford. I actually think, if anything, he’s underrated, and should be mentioned among the top five guys at the position.


That said, most folks would’ve guessed three years ago that Goff would be long gone from the Lions’ roster by now. Instead, he’s statistically matched Stafford, served as a centerpiece for Detroit’s rebuild, which has the team in as strong a position as it’s been in since the 1950s, and now is entrenched, at 29, as Detroit’s quarterback for now and the foreseeable future.


Which is remarkable when you think of where Goff was at after he was traded in January 2021.


• And now, we can get to how this might impact other quarterbacks in the coming months, so let’s start with the details I have been able to dig up since the deal got done Monday.


Goff gets a $73 million signing bonus (paid out in installments). He’s due $125 million over the first two years of the deal, and $165 million over its first three years. The structure, via rolling guarantees, would make it tough for Detroit to bail over the first four years of the contract. The fifth year, with $57 million all-in, is a true option year, with no guaranteed money (even eliminating that, the contract is more than $51 million per year in new money).


Goff’s deal is very good news for Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Green Bay Packers signal-caller Jordan Love this year, and San Francisco’s Brock Purdy next year. Prior to Goff’s deal, it’d have been easy for their teams to say the $50 million class (Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts) was irrelevant to their negotiations. But with Kirk Cousins now at $45 million per year, and Goff in the $50 million club, all three would be justified in asking to get to that range.


But Goff’s deal sure won’t help the Dolphins, Packers or 49ers if they were looking to get a little home discount on their quarterback deals.


• I like to look at incentives in contracts in this very simple way: What does a player have to do to make all of the money in the deal?


Sometimes, you’ll see contracts where a defensive end needs to get 20 sacks and win league MVP and, well, those sorts of deals are done almost as free advertising for an agent, so he can take it and recruit off numbers that were always fake. Now that I’ve gotten the numbers, I can tell you new Dolphins WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s deal isn’t one of those.


To answer the aforementioned question, if the Dolphins finish in the top 20 in scoring, and Beckham has 55 catches for 800 yards and six touchdowns, he’ll get all of the $8.25 million that’s written into the one-year deal he signed with the team.


If you want to get granular, we can do that, too. His $1.79 million signing bonus, and fully guaranteed salary of $1.21 million gives him $3 million in base pay. After that, his money is tied to the Dolphins finishing top 20 in scoring (it’s a precondition for every one of the incentives). That should happen. The Dolphins were sixth and first in Mike McDaniel’s first two seasons in Miami.


From there, he’ll get $400,000 for 566 yards, another $800,000 for 650 yards, and another $1 million for 800 yards (for a max of $2.2 million); he’ll get $400,000 for 36 catches, another $800,000 for 45 catches, and another $1 million for 55 catches (for a max of another $2.2 million); and $400,000 for four touchdowns, and another $450,000 for six touchdowns (for a max of $850,000). That adds to the $5.25 million in incentives.


Whether he’ll get there is debatable. The last time he’d have maxed out incentives such as these was 2018, his last year with the Giants. The last time he hit any of the top figures was ’19, his first year with Cleveland. The last time he hit any of the low-end numbers was ’21, when he had 44 catches for 537 yards and five touchdowns, splitting the year between the Rams and Browns.


That said, the numbers for Beckham are within reach. Plus, the deal helped Miami sign him amid a bit of a messy cap situation, with his number for 2024 at $2.105 million.


And his situation, of course, was complicated by the Tagovailoa dynamic we detailed above.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield
Winfield is now the highest paid safety in the NFL. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

• Meanwhile, Antoine Winfield Jr. reset the safety market at a little more than $21 million per year, a nice markup over the contract Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James got two summers ago at $19 million per year.


Two thoughts on this deal:


First, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hit a home run with their 2020 draft class, even though five of their seven picks from that April are no longer with the team. To land two All-Pros—Winfield and first-round OT Tristan Wirfs—in a single year, and do it without a top-10 pick, or multiple picks in any of the first three rounds, is obviously outstanding. And it happened with COVID-19 wreaking havoc.


Second, this leaves just three non-specialist positions that haven’t cracked the $20 million-per-year barrier—tight end, center and running back. And while I get it with running backs, it still is amazing to me how much of a bargain tight ends are for teams. Especially when you consider how the NFL’s two most recent dynasties had Hall of Famers at the position, who were focal points of their respective offenses.


• Give the Buffalo Bills credit for giving themselves options at receiver. Obviously, they’re counting on Keon Coleman to produce, and Khalil Shakir to move into a larger role. But beyond that, they’ve come up with a slew of affordable veterans in Curtis Samuel, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chase Claypool and K.J. Hamler, who have either produced or flashed a bunch of potential as pros.


This, by the way, is the advantage of having Josh Allen at quarterback. You become a destination for guys looking to revive their careers.


• Jermaine Burton is a name I’d keep an eye on. There were some off-field questions teams sorted through, but also a lot of talent to work with there. And that he landed with Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals gives him a great chance to make it. Already in limited work, Cincinnati’s seen a competitive kid who has good ball skills and the explosiveness to separate from coverage in the NFL.


Playing alongside receivers Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase to draw away such coverage won’t hurt, either.


• Speaking of Higgins, he’s now the only one of eight guys franchised, and nine guys tagged (Patriots S Kyle Dugger got the transition tag), without a new long-term deal (Brian Burns and L’Jarius Sneed got theirs as part of trades). So the July 15 deadline to do long-term deals with tagged players will look different this year. And in my opinion, all of these contracts got done ahead of time in a way they hadn’t before in 2024 for a very simple reason.


The price on the one-year, lump-sum tenders has risen to the point where they’re no longer good deals for the teams, which motivates them to get new long-term deals on their books.


• I wouldn’t make too much of Dan Quinn wearing the old feathers on his Washington Commanders shirt the other day. It was Quinn making an effort to bring an organization that’s been very clearly fractured over the last quarter-century back together. Nothing more than that (though I do understand the sensitivities to it, and I think Quinn does, too).


• I’m very interested to see the Houston Texans’ schedule. I figured they’d have been a candidate to play the New York Jets in the Monday Night Football opener. I also think they’re a team that the league should be highlighting, with a great, young quarterback-coach dynamic, and a roster full of ascending players.


• One thing I’ve noticed early on with schedule leaks is how Buffalo has to go to Miami on a short week right off the bat. Playing in South Florida is no picnic. And having to do it early in September, on four days rest, should make it even more of a test.

Albert Breer