And, no, it’s not Kirk Cousins... yet.
There was much consternation when the Detroit Lions handed Matthew Stafford the richest contract in NFL history, inking him to a five-year, $135 million extension. Was he worth all that money? What has he proven so far? How could you justify spending that much on a single position anyways?
Though the clearer heads prevailed, noting that this was just the going market for top-tier quarterbacks, there were still cynics about. But the San Francisco 49ers just did something that may ease their concerns. According to Mike Garafolo (and first reported by NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai), the 49ers just made Jimmy Garoppolo the newest highest-paid player in the league:
The 49ers and QB Jimmy Garoppolo have agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million contract, source says. The biggest deal in NFL history on a average-per-year basis.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 8, 2018
Garoppolo will be making an average of $27.5 million per year, compared to Stafford’s $27 million. Obviously, there are important contract details that are not yet available, like total guaranteed money and guaranteed money at signing, but this is still a surprisingly large contract for a player that has started just seven career games since drafted in 2014.
UPDATE: Garoppolo’s deal reportedly has “just” $74 million in guarantees, which is far less than Stafford’s $92 million.
If there was concern that Stafford has yet to prove himself worthy of his deal, there should be panic about what the 49ers just gave Garoppolo. Though Garoppolo finished the 2017 season extremely strong. In fact, his first four starts in San Francisco was the second-highest graded quarterback’s team debut in PFF’s history (dating back to 2006).
And this is just the beginning. With Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Drew Brees poised to enter free agency, and Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan seeking extensions soon, the quarterback money will soon be flying off the shelf. Matthew Stafford could realistically be out of the top five in average salaries before all is said and done.
UPDATE: Adam Schefter is reporting that Garoppolo’s deal is not yet finished yet, but it’s close:
Credit to both @rajmathai and @MikeGarafolo, who have reported 49ers have deal in place with QB Jimmy Garoppolo; seems like only a matter of time. High-ranking 49ers' official texted: "Still working on it. Not done yet."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 8, 2018
UPDATE 2: It’s official:
Minutes ago, 49ers’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo officially signed the 5-year, $137.5 million deal that @rajmathai and @MikeGarafolo reported on today. 49ers’ biggest off-season issue now resolved.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 9, 2018