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Justin Herbert contract breakdown: How AAV, guaranteed money compare to Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes & other highest-paid QBs

The Chargers locked in quarterback Justin Herbert long-term on Tuesday on eve of the team’s training camp beginning.

Los Angeles announced that it had signed Herbert to a multi-year extension but did not disclose the terms of the deal. Eventually, it was revealed that the deal was a five-year pact worth up to $262.5 million.

That the Chargers re-signed Herbert despite a hefty price-tag is no surprise. The 25-year-old has established himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL and has enjoyed one of the strongest three-season stretches to start a career in league history.

Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, will now be tasked with leading the Chargers to a playoff win, one of the few milestones he hasn’t yet accomplished during his NFL career.

MORE: What Justin Herbert’s contract extension means for Joe Burrow, Bengals

Just how does Herbert’s contract compare to the other top-dollar quarterbacks across the NFL? Here’s a look at how he stacks up against the two other players that agreed to record-breaking extensions during the 2023 offseason, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts, as well as reigning league and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Justin Herbert contract details

  • Total value: $262.5 million
  • AAV: $52.5 million
  • Guaranteed money: $218.7 million

Herbert reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with the Chargers on Tuesday just ahead of the team’s training camp opening. Herbert is set to make $262.5 million over the course of the contract, which is good for an average annual value (AAV) of $52.5 million. That becomes the largest AAV in NFL history, edging Lamar Jackson’s previous league-high of $52 million.

Herbert will also make the second-most guaranteed money for a quarterback as a part of his new deal. His contract contains up to $218.7 million in guarantees; he is just the second quarterback in NFL history to receive more than $200 million in guarantees alongside Deshaun Watson.

Herbert certainly deserved a deal of this caliber. The only qualm that the Chargers could have with him is that he hasn’t yet won a playoff game in his three seasons as Los Angeles’ top quarterback. Even so, his 14,089 passing yards are the most by a quarterback in the first three years of his career while his 94 passing touchdowns are second only to Dan Marino.

And last season, Herbert completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 4,739 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while leading the Chargers to the playoffs. The 25-year-old is clearly one of the top, young quarterbacks in the league and should keep Los Angeles relevant in the AFC West long-term.


Lamar Jackson contract details

  • Total value: $260 million
  • AAV: $52 million
  • Guaranteed money: $185 million

In truth, the deals signed by Jackson and Herbert are nearly identical. The only difference is that Herbert’s deal comes with a ceiling $2.5 million higher than Jackson’s and with about $34 million more in guarantees.

Still, Jackson’s deal is a massive one, as it contains within it what is now the second-highest AAV in NFL history and the second-most guaranteed money ($185 million) as well. The guarantees were one of the biggest sticking points in Jackson’s multi-year negotiations with the Ravens, as he wanted a fully guaranteed contract like the $230 million pact Deshaun Watson inked with the Browns. But eventually, the two sides reached an agreement.

Jackson won the 2019 MVP but hasn’t performed as well in recent seasons, largely thanks to injuries. He started 12 games for the Ravens in 2022 and completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 764 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He will look to improve upon those numbers — particularly through the air — in Todd Monken’s offense during the 2023 season.

Jalen Hurts contract details

  • Total value: $255 million
  • AAV: $51 million
  • Guaranteed money: $179.3 million

Poor Hurts was only the NFL’s highest-paid player for 10 days. He agreed to a five-year pact worth $255 million after he quarterbacked the Eagles to a Super Bowl 57 appearance. He also received $179.3 million in guarantees but saw Jackson’s deal top that total by $5.7 million.

In total, Hurts’ contract is worth exactly $5 million less than Jackson’s in total and $1 million less in AAV. As such, it’s likely that Jackson and the Ravens used Hurts’ contract as a framework to determine Jackson’s worth on the open market. The two have a similar playing style, so it makes sense that Jackson waited to cash in until Hurts was paid; we could see a similar phenomenon with Herbert and Joe Burrow.

Hurts was deserving of his quarter-million dollar extension; he posted a 14-1 regular-season record in 2022 and completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,701 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also ran for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns while establishing himself as one of the league’s best dual-threat quarterbacks.

The Eagles may have come up short of winning a Super Bowl, but Hurts’ presence with the team should give them a chance to fight their way back to the big game in the not-so-distant future.

Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes contract details

  • Total value: $450 million
  • AAV: $45 million
  • Guaranteed money: $141.5 million

Many will be curious about exactly how Herbert’s contract compares to that of Mahomes, and with good reason. Mahomes’ Chiefs have kept Herbert’s Chargers at an arm’s length in the AFC West race during the Oregon product’s three years in the NFL. Now, Herbert is set to make more annually than his Super Bowl and MVP-winning counterpart.

Herbert will make about $7.5 million more than Mahomes annually. Many will scoff at that given that  Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL by any metric and Herbert has yet to win a playoff game.

That said, Mahomes’ contract is structured differently than Herbert’s. Mahomes signed a monster, 10-year deal with the Chiefs that is the largest in NFL history and will likely remain so for some time. He will make $450 million as a part of the deal, which will keep him under contract until the 2031 offseason.

At the time, Mahomes was the NFL’s highest-paid player in terms of AAV. He likely knew that others would surpass him on a yearly basis, but he opted for the long-term security and the value that came from the nearly half-billion-dollar deal.

So, while Mahomes may be making a bit less short-term, he is still beating Herbert in total contract value by $188.5 million. If he ever is unhappy with that security, he can try to restructure his deal with the Chiefs, who will likely be willing to do anything to keep their franchise signal-caller happy.

MORE: NFL’s 25 highest-paid players in 2023

Highest-paid quarterbacks in 2023

All told, Justin Herbert is not the NFL’s highest-paid player in terms of AAV and its second-highest-paid player in total contract value and guarantees. That makes his deal one of the greatest for any player in NFL history.

Here’s a look at how Herbert’s deal compares to other top quarterbacks across several categories, including Jackson, Hurts, Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and more.

NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks

Rank Player AAV
1 Justin Herbert $52.5 million
2 Lamar Jackson $52 million
3 Jalen Hurts $51 million
4 Aaron Rodgers $50.3 million
5 Russell Wilson $48.5 million
6 Kyler Murray $46.1 million
7 Deshaun Watson $46 million
8 Patrick Mahomes $45 million
9 Josh Allen $43 million
10 Dak Prescott $40 million
  Daniel Jones $40 million
  Matthew Stafford $40 million

Guaranteed money

Rank Player Guarantees
1 Deshaun Watson $230 million
2 Justin Herbert $218.7 million
3 Lamar Jackson $185 million
4 Jalen Hurts $179.3 million
5 Russell Wilson $161 million
6 Kyler Murray $159.8 million
7 Aaron Rodgers $150.8 million
8 Josh Allen $150 million
9 Patrick Mahomes $141.5 million
10 Matthew Stafford $130 million

Total value

Rank Player Value
1 Patrick Mahomes $450 million
2 Justin Herbert $262.5 million
3 Lamar Jackson $260 million
4 Josh Allen $258 million
5 Jalen Hurts $255 million
6 Russell Wilson $242.6 million
7 Kyler Murray $230.5 million
8 Deshaun Watson $230 million
9 Dak Prescott $160 million
  Daniel Jones $160 million
  Matthew Stafford $160 million

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