NFL salaries for quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson

NFL salaries for quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson

Brock Purdy (left) and Lamar Jackson.
Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images; G Fiume/Getty Images

  • The NFL season comes down to four teams with the next conference championships.
  • The four teams have starting players in very different tax brackets.
  • Brock Purdy makes less than the others, but his salary gives his team a huge advantage.

Four teams are still vying for a chance to play in this year’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas. While all four starters helped lead their teams to the playoffs, there is a big difference in what they did, and that could be a huge advantage for NFL teams.

The Baltimore Ravens and their starting quarterback Lamar Jackson will face the Kansas City Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

On the NFC side, the Detroit Lions and Jared Goff will take on the San Francisco 49ers and their starting quarterback, Brock Purdy.

While Mahomes and Jackson are considered two of the best players in the league, there is a big difference in how much they make before taxes.

According to Spotrac, an online professional sports resource Jackson made $80 million between salary and bonuses this season, including catalog contracts and paying players. Mahomes’ salary this season was 59.4 million dollars.

Goff is a distant third with $26 million in salary and bonuses through the 2023 season. However, even he is miles ahead of the younger Purdy, who earned $870,000 this season, 75th among QBs in a league of just 32 teams.

Brock Purdy.
AP Photo/Tony Avelar

While those numbers are for the regular season, all four players will earn playoff bonuses depending on how far they go in the postseason. Unfortunately for Purdy, even his bonus lags far behind the others.

Purdy would earn the standard $164,000 Super Bowl bonus that all players receive for winning the championship. Meanwhile, Goff will receive $945,000 and Mahomes will earn $1.3 million, which are additional bonuses written into their contracts.

Jackson has no bonus for winning the Super Bowl, but like Purdy, will receive the standard $164,000.

Even though Purdy is at least a year away from signing his first big contract and joining the tax bracket of other championship quarterbacks, his salary is one of the biggest perks any team can get in the NFL.

Advantages of finding a cheap quarterback

With the NFL’s strict salary cap rules, it’s rare to find a player who can play the most important position with a relatively low salary.

If a team can land a talented quarterback on a cheaper contract, they can spend more on other key positions that can help them progress throughout the season. That’s a huge advantage compared to other teams paying tens of millions of dollars to other championship-caliber teams.

Other teams have successfully used this strategy to become Super Bowl contenders, including the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, who won a big game with second-year quarterback Russell Wilson.

Russell Wilson.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The easiest way to use this strategy successfully is to find a young quarterback who can quickly become the best player in the NFL draft. The league limits how much players can make in their first four years, so if a team lands one of these cheap quarterbacks, that player only has a few years to take advantage before his salary goes up.

This is especially true for the 49ers and Purdy, who is still not in his third NFL season, but was selected by the team with the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. His contract is smaller than most young players.

Purdy’s first contract was for four years and a total of $3.7 million.

By comparison, Jackson is in his sixth season, signed a new deal worth $260 million over five years before the 2023 season and comes with a $72.5 million signing bonus. Mahomes, in his seventh season, is in the fourth year of a 10-year, $450 million contract.

Goff has one year left on the four-year, $134 million extension he originally signed with the Los Angeles Rams. He is in his eighth NFL season.

Unfortunately for Purdy, he also lives in the notoriously expensive city of San Francisco. To help stretch his money, he spent this season with roommate and teammate Nick Zakelj.

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