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Thanks, Jimmy G! Predicting the next 4 big-money QB contracts

theScore logo theScore 2/14/2018

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo smiles during a press conference announcing his new five-year contract on Feb. 9. © Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo smiles during a press conference announcing his new five-year contract on Feb. 9. If the NFL's quarterback community hasn't sent a gift basket to Jimmy Garoppolo in the wake of his NFL record contract extension, they absolutely should.

The San Francisco 49ers rewarded the young pivot with a five-year deal reportedly worth $27.5 million per season and $137.5 million in total, again pushing the ceiling of quarterbacks' financial worth to even greater heights following significant jump after significant jump in recent years.

As a result, a handful of veteran quarterbacks are set to cash in this offseason. Here are contract predictions for the next four big-money QB contracts, in the order they should be signed:

Kirk Cousins

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If the rest of the quarterbacks on the list - and their agents - are smart, they'll all wait until after Cousins signs somewhere in free agency.

Simply put, the Washington Redskins pivot is about to get paid, likely more than any other player in NFL history. The Redskins backed themselves into a corner with two straight franchise tags, not only driving up Cousins' value and leverage to extraordinary levels but also torching their relationship with him.

As a result, Washington will reportedly trade for Alex Smith when the new league year starts and allow Cousins to hit the open market. A free-agent frenzy unlike anything we've experienced since Peyton Manning left Indianapolis is likely to ensue. Cousins said he values winning over money, and wants to pick a strong organization (and who can blame him after spending his whole career with the Redskins), but dollars always talk.

Regardless of where Cousins lands, the fight to get him is all but certain to push him far past Garoppolo and make the next three men on this list even happier. He doesn't push past $30 million, but instead opts to use his leverage for a huge total guaranteed money haul.

Prediction: 5-year, $150M contract; $30M yearly average; $115M in total guarantees 

Drew Brees

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Brees is the only man on the list who could be about to sign his last contract in the NFL, so the 39-year-old is unlikely to demand to be paid on the level of Cousins after a highly successful earning career - especially with the New Orleans Saints suddenly looking capable of one last title run.

Brees isn't leaving New Orleans, as he's stated on multiple occasions, so expect the future Hall of Famer to balance getting paid his due with giving the Saints enough flexibility to continue to add pieces around him.

The one-time Super Bowl winner earned a fully guaranteed $24.25 million in 2017 on a one-year deal, so that's his floor. But, it's too much to ask Brees - who's still among the best quarterbacks in the league - to take an inferior yearly salary to a player in Garoppolo who has started just seven career games.

This deal would push Brees past Garoppolo and essentially act as another fully guaranteed one-year contract with a voidable second year to maximize the quarterback's earnings and the team's cap flexibility after 2018.

Prediction: 2-year, $56M contract; $28M yearly average; $28M in total guarantees 

Matt Ryan

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Ryan's level of play fell back to more in line with his career averages in 2017 following his spectacular MVP season, but the Atlanta Falcons signal-caller still has the clout to demand a deal that at least puts him on par with Cousins.

His resume is far superior, and while some may question whether he truly is a top-five quarterback without Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons' issues on offense this past campaign were much more on first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

Ryan will take a shorter deal, setting himself up for one last big payday in his mid-30s. The Falcons will keep Ryan happy by nudging him past Cousins in terms of yearly salary, but get a win by not needing to hit the crazy percentage of total guarantees in Cousins' deal.

Prediction: 4-year, $124M contract; $31M yearly average; $87M in total guarantees 

Aaron Rodgers

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Rodgers could possibly push back his enormous payday to next offseason, in hopes of putting together a full season of his usual Hall of Fame-level production to further boost his value after missing nine games in 2017.

However, the Green Bay Packers' superstar pivot has been underpaid for too long and has seen too many lesser players blast past his current average yearly salary of $22 million.

If the Packers' 2017 season proved anything, it was how much the team needs Rodgers under center to make their scheme effective. But it likely also highlighted to Rodgers how quickly an injury can derail a season - and potentially a career - maybe motivating him to get the extension done now.

Rodgers rightfully regains the title of the NFL's highest-paid player and gets the best of both worlds by fighting for both a record yearly salary and in total guarantees. And no one will argue that he isn't worth every dollar.

Prediction: 5-year, $160M; $32M yearly average; $125M in total guarantees

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

(Contract stats: Spotrac)

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