As the 2023 offseason begins to wind down as teams begin OTA’s there is a very strong chance that there will be no more record-breaking deals on the horizon. With all of the league’s biggest deals locked in, there are three that stand out amongst the rest on the offensive side of the ball in terms of guaranteed money.
Deshaun Watson shockingly still holds the title for the highest-paid player in the NFL in terms of guaranteed money for the second consecutive season. Despite both Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson signing bigger deals than Watson this offseason, neither freshly inked contract outdid Watson’s in terms of guaranteed money.
Watson was given this deal as a last-ditch effort from the Cleveland Browns to finally secure their franchise quarterback. Since they returned to Cleveland, the team has had one of the worst streaks of starting quarterbacks in league history. After burning their bridge with Baker Mayfield, Cleveland’s hand was forced after signs pointed towards Watson signing with the Atlanta Falcons.
To stop their plan from blowing up in their face, the Browns would make Watson the highest-paid player in NFL history, fully guaranteeing his $230 million contract. This came while Watson was in the midst of very serious allegations, and in his first season with the Browns, he did not play at the same level he was at in his final season with the Houston Texans. This will be a huge year for Watson and the Browns, and if they both fall flat again this season, Watson could end up being one of the most overpaid players in the league.
Kyler Murray comes into the season with the second-largest deal in the league in terms of guaranteed money with $189.5 million. Murray lucked out and signed this deal before he suffered a terrible ACL tear that will keep him sidelined for possibly over half of the 2023 season.
An ACL tear is a very tough injury to come back from, and few players perform at the same level after they recover. Before his injury, Murray was an elite dual-threat quarterback, and it could be very difficult for him to be a real threat on the ground once he returns. Despite this, he will likely remain the franchise quarterback for the Cardinals throughout the remainder of his deal if not longer.
Lamar Jackson rounds out the top three highest-paid offensive players in terms of guaranteed money with $185 million. Guaranteed money was one of the biggest issues that both sides had to reach an agreement on through the negotiation process. At one point in the 2023 offseason, it appeared that the Ravens would not budge, and Jackson would go as far as to request a trade from the team.
However, after some damage control that included signing Odell Beckham Jr., drafting Zay Flowers with their first-round pick, and offering to make Jackson the third highest-paid player in the league in terms of guaranteed money, he would sign the massive extension to keep him with the team. Now, Baltimore has a very scary offensive unit, and we could end up seeing a very different Jackson this season. Thus far, he has harped on the fact that he will prove himself as one of the top passers in the league after already proving that he is arguably the greatest scrambling quarterback that the game has ever seen.
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