Why Derek Carr won't be the NFL's highest-paid player for long

NFL money is a difficult thing to track, with its web of guarantees, up-front bonuses and incentives, but suffice it to say, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is rich.

One could go as far to say that he's now the richest player in the NFL.

Carr and the Raiders agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal Thursday morning a deal that will give Carr the largest annual salary in NFL history at $25 million per year.

Carr is an excellent quarterback (we don't use the word "elite" around these parts). He was an instrumental part of bringing the languishing Raiders franchise back to life and arguably a critical component in the Raiders' lucrative move to Las Vegas, which he will now be making as well.

To the Raiders, Carr was worth more than any other player in NFL history. Carr, of course, had no problem accepting such a generous offer.

Other parties though, they might take umbrage with the fact that Carr, a player who has never won a playoff game (remember: he was injured for the Raiders' first-round loss to the Texans' last year) is now the NFL's highest-paid player.

But those concerns should be short-lived.

And there are at least two parties who should be thrilled by Carr's massive deal: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Carr has reset the market for quarterbacks, and Stafford and Rodgers are poised to reset it again in the near future.

Carr might be the highest-paid player in NFL history, but he's unlikely to hold that distinction for long: We're about to enter the era of a $30 million quarterback.

Stafford has been waiting on Carr, and now that the Raiders quarterback has signed his new deal, expect the Lions quarterback to become the NFL's best-paid player before the start of the 2017 season.

Stafford is set to be a free agent after next year, and the Lions have no interest in letting him go. The only question left to be answered is how much more money Stafford will receive than Carr.

There's little doubt that the Lions' quarterback will get a better deal than Carr's accord with the Raiders. The NFL pays players for what they have done, and Stafford, 29, has averaged more than 4,500 yards and 28 touchdowns per season on 62 percent passing since 2011. His 2016 campaign, like Carr's, put him in the MVP discussion. He's firmly established himself as the Lions' franchise player and he's in his prime no matter what you think of him, he's going to get more than $25 million a year on his next deal.

Stafford's reign as the NFL's richest man might not last long, though, because Rodgers is looking for a new deal now, too.

Rodgers is 33 and he has a contract that goes through the 2019 season, but with recent developments on the quarterback market (see: Glennon, Mike; Carr, Derek; and perhaps Cousins, Kirk), that current Packers' deal ($22 million per) is a bargain. This is the best quarterback in the NFC, we're talking about here.

With Carr's deal on the books, Rodgers' market value is well above $30 million, and the Packers, given increases in the salary cap, can afford to make that valuation a reality.

Rodgers isn't like Tom Brady in that he hasn't taken less money for the sake of team building he was the highest-paid player in the NFL once before. A new deal is hardly imminent, but he will likely be the highest-paid player in the NFL once again.


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