NFL Teams Pay Outrageous Salaries in an Era of Mega Deals

(Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels/Flickr)
(Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels/Flickr)

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

What does an NFL QB with an elite arm have in common with a 17th-century tulip? Both are emblematic of an economic mania.

With America’s favorite sports league seeing its bottom line rise consistently it’s becoming commonplace for the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks to receive contracts that pay out more than $50 million a year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Big Pay Day

Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles couldn’t clinch the brass ring from the Kansas City Chiefs at this year’s Super Bowl, but the Houston-born QB is still one of the most prized players in the league. Just last month, the Eagles offered him a five-year, $255 million contract, the biggest in NFL history. Only two weeks later that record was shattered when the Baltimore Ravens gave Lamar Jackson a $260 million deal for five years. And that record isn’t likely to last long either, the WSJ’s Andrew Beaton argues.

“The Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert are both eligible for extensions this off-season. It wouldn’t be surprising if not one but both of them break the record,” he wrote.

And it’s not just the NFL. Whether it’s players or entire teams, mega-deals are on the rise all over sports:

  • Aaron Judge just re-signed with the Yankees for nine years at $40 million per season. The Washington Commanders, who came in last place in the NFC East in 2022, are being sold for $6 billion. The UFC offered former heavyweight champ Franci Ngannou $8 million for one fight, and he still walked away from it.
  • Many expensive offers these days are propped up by increased revenue thanks to lucrative broadcasting deals. At the end of last year, the NFL and YouTube signed a multi-year streaming deal for the league’s Sunday Ticket package at $2 billion a year.

Thrifty Boys: Some owners remain frugal, though, like actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, who bought Wales’ Wrexham soccer club in 2021 for just $2.5 million. Granted, Wrexham is no Manchester United, which is expected to sell for billions in the near future. At the time, Wrexham competed in the fifth tier of the English soccer league and brought in about $2 million in revenue each season. The pair reinvigorated the team, which won the National League championship and secured promotion into the fourth tier EFL League Two, and a €450,000 award this season. Where others saw a money pit, the Deadpool and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia stars saw a fixer-upper.