clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Triple digits: Joe Flacco and the history of $100 million contracts

Joe Flacco joined an exclusive club as one of 13 NFL players to sign a contract worth at least $100 million, but based on previous results, it may not be a club Flacco wants to be in.

Christian Petersen

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco just signed the richest contract in NFL history. In doing so, he became the 13th player to sign a contract worth $100 million or more in NFL history. Now, Flacco has to live up to the contract and based on history, his best season may be behind him.

Although 13 NFL players have signed contracts worth at least $100 million a few of those were worth considerably less due to bonus years and unattainable incentives. The fact, however, remains on the surface those are the $100 million deals. There have actually been 14 deals worth $100 million or more as Michael Vick signed two mega contracts. Here is look at the richest deals in NFL history (h/t Reddit)

Player Position Total Value Years Guaranteed Money
Joe Flacco, 2013 QB $120.6 MM 6 $52 MM
Drew Brees, 2012 QB $100 MM 5 $60 MM
Calvin Johnson, 2012 WR $137.25 MM 8 $37.25 MM
Larry Fitzgerald, 2011 WR $120 MM 8 $45 MM
Michael Vick, 2011 QB $100 MM 6 $35.5 MM
Eli Manning, 2009 QB $106.9 MM 7 $35 MM
Albert Haynesworth, 2009 DT $100 MM 7 $41 MM
Ben Roethlisberger, 2008 QB $102 MM 8 $33.2 MM
Carson Palmer, 2005 QB $118.75 MM 9 $27 MM
Michael Vick, 2004 QB $130 MM 10 $37 MM
Daunte Culpepper, 2003 QB $102 MM 10 $16 MM
Donovan McNabb, 2002 QB $115 MM 12 $20.5 MM
Brett Favre, 2001 QB $101.5 MM 10 $22 MM
Drew Bledsoe, 2001 QB $103 MM 10 $24 MM

While Flacco tops the list in terms of average salary per year, the rest of the list isn't exactly a model for success. Of the players on this list, only Manning, Fitzgerald, Brees, Roethlisberger, Flacco and Johnson are still playing under their contract. The others did not finish out their triple-digit contracts.

Bledsoe, Favre, McNabb, Cullpepper, Palmer and Haynesworth were all traded after signing their extensions. Not only did the players not play out the entirety of their contracts, but based on Pro Football Reference's approximate value rating (AV), all but one of the players had their best, or tied for their best season before signing the deal. Manning was the only player to produce his career-high in AV after inking his $100 million deal.

That doesn't, however, mean Flacco is necessarily due for a decline. Several players produced a higher average AV after signing their extension, but it's really a mixed bag.

Player AV Before AV After Change
Favre 13.3 12.1 -1.2
Bledsoe 11.1 8.0 -3.1
McNabb 10.3 10.7 +0.4
Culpepper 12.0 7.0 -5.0
Vick (01-06) 10.0 14.0 +4.0
Palmer 8.3 10 +1.7
Roethlisberger 11.8 11.6 -0.2
Haynesworth 7.9 3.0 -4.9
Manning 9.4 13.8 +4.4
Vick (09-12) 8.0 10.0 +2.0
Fitzgerald 9.8 7.5 -2.3
Johnson 9.6 14.0 +4.4
Brees 13.2 15.0 +1.8

Players may have produced their best season prior to the deal, but seven of the 13 performed better on average after the deal. Even better news for Flacco and the Ravens, four of the last five players to sign deals worth $100 million or more have improved their average AV after the deal.

The latest round of $100 million quarterback contracts portends a few more triple digit deals in the near future. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He doesn't have a Super Bowl win on his resume like Flacco, but his regular season numbers top his fellow 2008 NFL Draft alumnus.

Aaron Rodgers signed a bargain priced six-year, $65 million extension in 2008. He has two more years left on the deal, which gives the Packers plenty of time to work toward that extension. Given his current level of production and a Super Bowl title, Rodgers can probably expect a deal bigger than either Flacco's or Ryan's. The second triple digit deal handed out by Green Bay.

For now, the onus is on Flacco and the Ravens to live up to the deal. Improving his approximate value rating, which averaged 12.2 per season so far, won't be easy. That mark is the third-highest average of any player before they signed a $100 million deal.

Flacco is just 28, right in the prime of his career. He has an offensive coordinator in Jim Caldwell that seems to understand what makes him tick. Baltimore also has a shrewd front office, perhaps the best in the league, that should be able to keep him surrounded with talent up and down the roster. If he continues at his current level of production, Flacco will have earned his paycheck.

Nine-figure contracts are always a gamble, but this one looks to be a fairly safe bet for the Ravens.

More in the NFL:

NFL Mock Draft: New names rising in first round

The NFL's disappearing middle class

Rex Ryan: "No truth" to Darrelle Revis trade rumors

NFL Draft pro days and workout schedule

The speed conspiracy: Comparing NFL and high school 40-yard dash times

The complete history of elite NFL quarterbacks