Brock Purdy Contract: Winning a Playoff Game Would Cause a $20M Problem for the 49ers
The goal of every NFL team at the beginning of the season is to make the playoffs and then win a playoff game. The San Francisco 49ers are no exception. In 2022, the 49ers had an additional goal, though, of developing a young quarterback for the future. It now looks like the team has done that, but the QB they developed is seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy, not 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. The team now heads to the postseason as a trendy Super Bowl pick, and while that’s great for fans, even one win this postseason will cause a major headache for the franchise in 2023, forcing a decision between the Trey Lance contract and Brock Purdy contract.
Brock Purdy contract vs. Trey Lance contract
There is nothing more valuable in the NFL than a star quarterback on a rookie deal. Not having to pay your best player $25-$45 million is a huge bonus that lets a team stock its roster with other talents (like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey, or the league’s No. 1 defense).
Both the Trey Lance and Brock Purdy contracts are outstanding compared to veteran starting QBs. However, there is a major difference between the contract of the No. 3 overall pick, as good as it is, and Mr. Irrelevant’s deal.
Lance sat his first year and went out for the year in Week 2 of his sophomore season. That puts him in year three of his rookie deal in 2023. First-round draft picks get standard four-year contracts with a team option for a fifth year.
Lance’s cap hit in 2023 will be $9,301,439, and in 2024, it goes to $10,851,678. If the team does pick up Year 5 (which it will have to decide on next offseason), that number will likely be in the $20 million range unless he makes the Pro Bowl next year, which would push it up.
A $20 million price tag for a starting QB is great. Paying a backup that much is less than ideal, especially when the (possible) starter is making significantly less.
Seventh-round contracts are less standardized than first-round ones. After being the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Brock Purdy contract is a four-year, $3,737,008 deal with just his $77,008 signing bonus guaranteed.
Purdy’s cap numbers for the next three seasons are the absurdly low figures of $889,252, $1,004,252, and $1,119,252. That’s what a team’s third-string off-ball linebacker and special teams player makes, not the starting QB.
This Brock Purdy contract makes him the biggest value in the NFL. And it makes the Trey Lance contract (and his upcoming $20 million fifth-year option decision) a problem.
What to do with Lance if Purdy’s the guy
The 49ers sent two future first-round picks (2022, 2023) to the Dolphins ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft to trade up to No. 3 to draft Trey Lance.
If Brock Purdy wins a playoff game (or multiple playoff games) for the Niners this postseason, he could win the starting job in the future. As it is, Purdy is 5-0 as a starter to begin his career and 6-0 if you include the game he entered to replace an injured Jimmy Garoppolo in the first quarter.
If Purdy is the starter heading into next season, the smartest thing for the 49ers to do is keep both young signal-callers. The Brock Purdy contract and the Trey Lance contract combined in 2023 are just over $10 million, which is cheap for one NFL QB, let alone two.
Then, next offseason, if Purdy holds onto the job through the season, the 49ers will then have a decision to make. Do they pick up Lance’s option? Trade him? Chance letting him walk after 2024 for nothing?
The 49ers may have found the modern-day Tom Brady in the 2022 draft, and down the line, it will become an issue where the team has to make some hard choices. However, having the Brock Purdy contract and the Trey Lance contract, for now, is an incredible advantage for the franchise.