Andrew Luck is coming off a disappointing season with the Indianapolis Colts, but he’s headed for a major payday. The fourth-year quarterback has one year remaining on his contract, and the Colts plan on giving him a lucrative extension.
Luck will make $16.1 million for the 2016 season before he is eligible to become a free agent. Indianapolis plans to keep him off the open market and make him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players.
"It's going to be a big number," Colts owner Jim Irsay told WISH-TV. "It's going to be a shocking number, nine figures and probably a $20 million starting point per year, but again we will find the right number to get to."
Irsay isn’t overstating how much it will take to re-sign Luck. Last offseason, both Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton signed contracts that would pay them close to $100 million over a five-year span. The Pittsburgh Steelers gave their quarterback an extension that would allow him to make $99 million in base salary, while Newton got $103.8 million from the Carolina Panthers. Both signal callers were guaranteed approximately $60 million, making them the two highest-paid players for the 2015 season.
Russell Wilson was in the same draft class as Luck. Instead of taking a one-year extension for the 2016 season like Luck did last offseason, Wilson was given a four-year deal worth $87.6 million. He was paid $60 million guaranteed, as well, by the Seattle Seahawks.
Luck isn’t a Super Bowl champion like Roethlisberger or Wilson, and he’s coming off the worst season of his career. In 2016, the former No.1 overall pick posted a 74.9 passer rating, while missing nine games due to injury. It was the first time in his career that the Colts didn’t make the playoffs.
But Luck’s career accomplishments are on par with what Newton had done when he got his new deal. The 26-year-old took the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, reaching the AFC Championship last year. He’s still viewed as one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, and even signal callers that aren’t considered elite make more money than most players.
Nine quarterbacks made at least $15 million last season, including Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan, who were both paid north of $20 million. Eli Manning and Tony Romo made $17.5 million and $17 million, respectively, to lead the NFC East’s two worst teams. Philip Rivers was given just under $15.75 million during a season in which he posted a 4-12 record.
Indianapolis might overpay Luck on his next deal, but the Stanford grad was extremely underpaid during his first four years with the team. Luck made $22.1 million during that time, going 35-20 without much of a supporting cast.
Luck’s first contract was nothing compared to what quarterbacks were paid before the rookie salary scale was instituted, starting with the 2011 season. When Sam Bradford was drafted first overall in 2010, he signed a six-year, $78 million contract with $50 million in guarantees. Bradford has never reached the playoffs, and he was the 10th-highest paid quarterback last season, making nearly $13 million as the Philadelphia Eagles’ starter.