Thoughts on Jared Goff’s $212 Million Contract With the Lions

Jared Goff signed a four year, $212 million contract extension with the Lions yesterday, completing one of the most amazing comeback stories in the NFL. Goff, who was given up on by the Rams in 2020 and traded to the Lions as a salary dump in 2021, ignited the Lions to a 12-5 record in 2023 and is now set to be their locked in starter for the foreseeable future. Here are some thoughts on the new contract that he signed.

Goff’s new contract will place him second in the NFL in average per year at $53 million, behind only Joe Burrow who signed a five year contract worth $55 million per year last summer. Goff set a new NFL record for signing bonus money at $73 million, $500,000 more than what Lamar Jackson received last season.

The cash flows on the contract are also a big positive for Goff and in no way indicate a backloaded contract. This is the cash breakdown along with where it ranks in the NFL.

SeasonRunning CashRunning APYNFL Rank
Year 0$52,000,0002nd
Year 1$70,000,000$70,000,0006th
Year 2$125,000,000$62,500,0002nd
Year 3$165,000,000$55,000,0002nd
Year 4$212,000,000$53,000,0002nd (tied)

$170.6 million is guaranteed for injury while $113.6 million of that is fully guaranteed at signing. This ranks 6th in injury guarantees and 5th in full guarantees. Goff was already scheduled to earn $23.6 million this season which brings the real guarantees on the contract to $147 million for injury and $90 million fully guaranteed. The $147 million is 6th in the NFL while the fully guaranteed portion matches Kirk Cousins $90 million guarantee from the Falcons which is 7th in the NFL. When factoring in the length of the contract the guarantee is 4th when valued on a per year basis.

The full guarantee triggers are also favorable to Goff. At signing Goff’s 2024 and 2025 salaries are guaranteed. $20 million of his 2026 salary is already guaranteed. An additional $35 million in 2026 will be guaranteed on the 3rd day of the 2025 league year. $18 million of his 2027 salary will be guaranteed on the 3rd day of the 2026 league year. The final $4 million is guaranteed on the 3rd day of the 2027 league year.

Here is how much new money Goff would earn if cut at any point in the contract prior to the vesting date that March.

YearNew Money EarnedRunning APY

The guarantee structure pretty much locks in Goff for three seasons making the decision point 2028. Goff has $8 million in offseason bonus money that should force an early decision on his roster status.

While this is certainly an aggressive contract, the Lions did negotiate slightly better cash flows, relative to the value of the contract, compared to his original deal with the Rams. On a percentage paid per year basis here is the comparison of the two:

Year 022.4%24.5%
Year 142.9%33.0%
Year 261.9%59.0%
Year 380.6%77.8%
Year 4100.0%100.0%

As for the salary cap charges, I am not entirely sure at the moment, though we do have estimated online. His cap charge in 2024 should be $27.211 million, a savings of $5.08 million. His 2025 cap charge is $32.6 million but my assumption is that the Lions will pay some of his salary as an option bonus to reduce that figure, though the Lions should be ok with their cap in 2025 so it may not be a concern. The number could be as high as $69.6 million in 2026 but again I would imagine that there is already a cap conversion mechanism in place to reduce that, likely dumping money into void years beyond the expiration of the contract.

Overall, this is an amazingly strong deal for Goff. I’m not sure if many around the league see him as more than a system QB type and I am not sure many expected him to see this kind of salary. Goff will be 30 this year which kind of puts him in no mans land when finding comparisons since most of the market is either 34+ or like U26 at signing. On a cap inflated basis this would work out to $3M more per year than Derek Carr and Matt Stafford’s 2022 extensions though benchmarking against the Covid impacted years is tough. FWIW, Kirk Cousins 2018 contract would be worth around $40M per year in today’s dollars, though that did actually make him the highest paid QB for a minute when it was signed.

Given the size of the contract I think the big mistake for the Lions here is not getting a fifth season. Clearly, they are now committed heavily to Goff and why have a decision point come up again a year early? The recent trend has been five year contracts for quarterbacks with the exception of Cousins, who is 36 making the years far less important to a team. This is an area where the Lions have missed, IMO, with a few players since they are doing four year contracts across the board.

Goff’s contract now goes from a benefit for the Lions to a typical contract for a QB. I wouldn’t call it a negative, but having the 2nd highest paid player in the NFL increases the requirements for valuable play from Goff. Even though some new players may earn more than him in new money it will only be free agents whose effective contract values significantly top Goff’s since the existing money on rookie contracts is low.

The margin for error for Detroit grows slimmer now due to their better players all landing big contracts. The Lions rank 2nd with $140.7M per year in new money for the top five players on their roster (the Eagles are 1st with $151 million). The NFL average is $108M at the moment though that will increase over the summer.

When looking at the top 10 contracts the Lions are now 3rd in the NFL at $187.4M per year. That trails the Eagles and Browns. The NFL average is $154M so the Lions are much heavier in their top 5 versus their top 10 players.

Does any of this mean anything?  Not necessarily. Like I mentioned above the margin for error becomes smaller when it comes to swinging at unconventional draft picks. Free agency dollars become tighter. But they are fine for this year and next and it is 2026 which is the first year where I think you can see impact, with how much probably depending on what they do in the 2025 offseason which is a long way away.

As for the rest of the QB market?  I am sure they are thrilled. Though Goff has draft standout qualities those have far less importance at 30 on a third NFL contract. I believe he has only been named once to the Pro Bowl on the initial ballot. While I could certainly be wrong I don’t think anyone views him as having the major upside most of the top paid QB’s in the league have.

I would expect this to be similar to the impact Cousins had on the market back in 2018. That quickly set the stage for the QB market to jump from $28M to $30M to $33.5M to $35M in about a year. While Burrow is the number one paid player, Goff is a much easier player to benchmark against if you are Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa, Brock Purdy, or Trevor Lawrence than Justin Herbert and it makes it much easier to make a case for some, not all, of these players to jump Burrow and quickly get the market to $60M+ a year.