CJ Stroud is off to a start in his career that’s eerily similar to Dak Prescott’s. At minimum, it shows Stroud’s financial future is bright.
A week after throwing for 470 yards and five touchdowns in a shootout win over Tampa Bay, the second overall pick in April’s draft threw for 356 yards in a 30-27 victory at Cincinnati Sunday to bring the Texans to 5-4. Suddenly, they’re a surprise AFC playoff candidate. Devin Singletary rushed for 150 yards and Noah Brown had 172 yards receiving, marking the first time a team had a 350-yard passer, 150-yard rusher, and 150-yard receiver in the same game since Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marshall Faulk did it for the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 29, 1998.
The 22-year-old Stroud is having an all-time great rookie season at QB. Only Justin Herbert and Andrew Luck have had more passing yards through nine games as a rookie in league history. Only Luck and Cam Newton have had more 350-yard passing games.
But take a step back. What Stroud is doing is even more impressive than that. He leads the NFL in pass yards per game and TD-to-interception ratio, with 15 TDs and only two picks so far this season. The only QBs since 1970, rookie or veteran, to lead the league in both those categories through Week 10 in a season? Manning in 2013, Tom Brady in 2015, and Patrick Mahomes in 2019. It’s rarified air to say the least.
Comparing Stroud to three top-10 all-time quarterbacks is completely unfair through nine games. However, we may not need to look further than the state of Texas to preview his on- and off-field future.
It’s safe to say that Stroud is well on pace to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. In the last 20 seasons, the 40 offensive and defensive rookies of the year have finished in the top 10 in MVP voting just once. That was Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott in 2016, who led Dallas to a 13-3 season and threw 23 TDs and four interceptions, finishing sixth in MVP voting.
Stroud is currently +2000 to win MVP at FanDuel SportsBook. That’s the sixth-best odds right now. Coincidence?
Let’s take a quick glance at the pair of Texas NFL signal callers through nine career games before getting to the finances.
|2023 CJ Stroud||Through 9 Career Games||2016 Dak Prescott|
|8.9||Adjusted yards per attempt||9.03|
Pretty damn close, no?
And even if Prescott is Stroud’s ceiling — and Texans fans should be justifiably hopeful that the former Ohio State Buckeye turns out way better than Dak — that would mean an incredibly financially lucrative career.
As a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, Prescott’s four-year, $2.7 million rookie contract pales compared to Stroud’s four-year, $36.3 million rookie deal, including a $23.3 million signing bonus. After Dallas hit Prescott with a $31.4 million franchise tag in 2020, he inked a four-year, $160 million deal with the Cowboys that included a $66 million signing bonus and $126 million guaranteed. But with a projected cap number of $61.9 million in 2024, Dallas and Prescott will likely re-negotiate another extension that’ll mean even more guaranteed money as Dak enters his 30s.
Prescott earned that nine-figure deal in 2021 despite playing just five games in 2020 after a devastating compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. So if Stroud stays remotely healthy and continues to play at the level he’s shown so far through nine games, he’ll be one of the highest-paid players in league history in a few seasons.
But even if he’s merely Prescott, CJ Stroud is set to make generational money as one of the most famous athletes in the US. Either way, the Texans got themselves a good one.
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