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Justin Herbert Contract & Salary Breakdown

How underpaid is this guy?!? Let’s examine the details of the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert contract under the NFL’s rookie scale salary rules.

In just the third season of his professional career, Los Angles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has already claimed his seat at the table among the top tier of signal-callers. With an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy on his mantle and a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2021, the cornerstone of the Bolts’ offense can safely say he’s far outperformed the relatively humble value of his rookie contract.

It’s inevitable that Herbert will get rewarded for his impressive performances in the form of a lucrative extension that keeps him in a Chargers uniform for several more years, and Herbert has proven himself to be up to the task so far in 2022, kicking off the season showcasing improved mechanics, quicker read progressions, and confidence in maneuvering the pocket. To date, his NFL body of work has displayed uncanny arm strength, able foot speed, and accuracy on the move that could see the three-year veteran effortlessly cement himself as a potential MVP candidate.

With that in mind, just how big could an extension truly get for such a surefire phenom, and how tiny would it make his current compensation truly look? To get a better sense of what’s to come, let’s dive into the details of the Chargers’ Justin Herbert contract as dictated by the NFL’s rookie scale salary rules.

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Justin Herbert Contract Details & Salary

All dollar figures via Spotrac.

Years: 4 (fifth-year team option for 2024 season)
Total value: $26,578,755
Average annual value: $6,644,689
Guaranteed at signing: $16,890,004  
Total guaranteed money: $26,578,755 
Free agency: 2024 or 2025

Annual rookie contract salary earnings:

2020: $17,617,002
2021: $1,818,125
2022: $3,026,250
2023: $4,234,376

Looking ahead to Herbert’s first contract extension — he’ll be eligible following the 2022 season — it’s time to set the stage with some precedent set by the league’s younger signal-callers in recent years:

  • 2020: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes revolutionized the market twith a 10-year, $450 million contract, still the largest contract in US sports history by total value.
  • 2021: Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen signed his own extension at six years and $258 million, a significantly lesser number but a groundbreaker in terms of guaranteed money.
  • 2022: Deshaun Watson one-upped Allen after his trade to the Browns, earning a five-year $230 million deal that was fully guaranteed at signing.
  • 2022: Arizona Cardinal’s QB Kyler Murray signed a five-year, $230.5 million extension with the organization and was drafted just one year before Herbert.

As Lamar Jackson’s own contract extension remains a dream deferred as negotiations stall out with the Baltimore Ravens, things are lining up to make Herbert if not the highest-paid QB by average annual salary or guaranteed money, then one of the true elite at the very least.

By the time Herbert signs an eventual extension, we’ll be no fewer than three years past the signing of Mahomes’s record-breaking deal. As the salary cap continues to rise thanks in large part to the NFL’s recent and massive TV and streaming rights deal, Herbert could have some intriguing options on the table. Whether he prefers the biggest long-term payday or fewer years with more guaranteed money attached, the Chargers will have to dish out far and away the biggest contract they’ve ever awarded.

If they don’t, someone else will.

It’s safe to say that if the Cardinals paid Kyler $46 million annually, Herbert will command not a single dollar less So, does that mean a full-on 10-year, $500 million contract is a possibility? It feels difficult to fathom, but then again, the quarterback salary market is absolutely exploding (and besides, Aaron Rodgers has already broken the $50 million AAV threshold).

In the big picture, the longer the Chargers wait, the more time Herbert has to improve his skillset and command even more money in a league whose salary cap is reaching for the skies.

Herbert’s Career Earnings

Salary data via Spotrac.

CAREER BASE SALARY: $5,454,375
CAREER SIGNING BONUSES: $16,890,004
OTHER BONUSES/INCENTIVES: $116,998
NFL SALARY EARNINGS THRU 2023$22,461,377

ESTIMATED SALARY EARNINGS THRU THE 2023 SEASON: $26,695,753

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