49ers: Josh Allen extension with Bills justifies San Francisco’s QB plans

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) /
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SF 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: San Francisco 49ers/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network /

Quarterback Contracts

The biggest takeaway from the Josh Allen contract extension is that Patrick Mahomes’ contract number is not in and of itself an outlier and that quarterbacks will soon reach and surpass that number.

But the other major thing to note is simply how much quicker quarterback salaries are rising compared to the salary cap.

Obviously, COVID-19 caused a salary cap reduction in the NFL, creating a dent in cap growth. But Allen’s contract was not signed in a vacuum from that. It was signed knowing the current cap situation.

In 2018, the salary cap was roughly $177.2 million. Jimmy Garoppolo’s AAV, which is not the best way to understand the contract but provides the easiest analysis, of $27.5 million meant he made roughly 15.5 percent of the salary cap. So heading into 2018, the top QB salary was 15 percent of the salary cap. With an assumed salary cap of $208 million for next year, Allen’s AAV of $43 million is roughly 20 percent of the cap.

This is a rough estimation, for sure, but it also points to a very clear trend: Quarterback contracts are outpacing the cap.

Contrast that with the rookie wage scale, the scale that determines how rookies get paid. Their contracts are aligned with the cap and create a situation where, percentage-wise, they won’t be making significantly more or less than the cap up until the fifth-year option.

Quarterbacks are getting more expensive, not only in terms of raw dollars spent, but in terms of the space they take up in the cap. And prior seasons have shown this escalation doesn’t just happen for the best. Even middle-tier players get caught in the rising tide of contracts.