Just three years into his NFL career, Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has already won Offensive Rookie of the Year and made a Pro Bowl. He still has a sub-.500 record as a starter (21-23), but that is more a function of the coaches and players (and player injuries) around him than a referendum on him as a QB. The No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft is still on his rookie deal, but a Justin Herbert contract extension is on its way. Here’s what Herbert makes now, when an extension could happen, and how much money it may be for.
Justin Herbert’s rookie contract
Justin Herbert didn’t have to go far to play college football. The Eugene, Oregon native grew up in the shadow of Autzen Stadium, and that’s where he played his college ball for the Oregon Ducks.
Herbert played in 43 games over three seasons for the Ducks, putting up 10,541 passing yards, 95 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. He also added 560 rushing yards and 13 TDs on the ground. Despite these numbers, Herbert’s height (6-foot-6) and laid-back personality gave NFL front offices pause during the pre-draft process.
Ultimately, this led to the LA Chargers taking Herbert No. 6 overall, behind LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow (No. 1) and Alabama passer Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5).
After the Chargers drafted Herbert, he signed a four-year, $26,578,755 rookie contract that is fully guaranteed.
In 2022, the Justin Herbert contract includes a $3,026,250 base salary and $4,222,501 in prorated signing bonus for a $7,248,751 cap hit. In the final year of the deal next season, Herbert’s cap hit will be $8,456,877 as a result of his $4,234,376 base salary and $4,222,501 prorated signing bonus.
Herbert’s rookie deal runs through 2023. There are several things the Chargers can do to keep him in LA for 2024 and beyond, though. One of those moves is to offer Herbert a massive contract extension.
Extending the Justin Herbert contract beyond 2023
As one of the best young QBs in the NFL, Justin Herbert will absolutely have the LA Chargers
pick up his fifth-year option. A fifth-year option is an automatic extra year a team can add to a first-round picks rookie deal that lets the team keep its player at a predetermined dollar figure. The fifth-year option value is based on a player’s playing time and accolades.
Herbert was taken sixth and has made one Pro Bowl. That makes his fifth-year option number somewhere around $28 million, per Over the Cap.
During the next two offseason, the Chargers’ No. 1 priority will likely be extending Herbert beyond 2024. However, if they can’t come to an agreement in the next two seasons, LA can keep Herbert for 2025 at a relatively reasonable price. With the franchise tag, Herbert would make somewhere north of $31.4 million (the estimated franchise tag number for 2023). The team could franchise him a second time in 2026, but that would be 120% of the previous franchise tag number.
Even if the Chargers do have to franchise Herbert, they will likely work out a long-term deal at some point. Then the question becomes, how much will a Justin Herbert contract be for?
In recent offseasons, four first-round QBs have signed significant post-rookie contract extensions that are telling as to what the new Justin Herbert contract might look like. These deals are:
- Kyler Murray (five years, $230.5M, $189.5M guaranteed, average annual value of $46.1M)
- Josh Allen (six years, $258M, $150M guaranteed, AAV of $43M)
- Patrick Mahomes (10 years, $450M, $141.4M guaranteed, AAV of $45M)
- Dak Prescott (four years, $160M, $126M guaranteed, AAV of $40M)
Taking all this into account, the inevitable Justin Herbert contract extension should happen in one of the next two offseasons. The deal will likely be somewhere in the neighborhood of $40-$50 million per year for four to six seasons. Of course, if fellow Class of 2020 QBs Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa sign long-term deals before Herbert, it will be informative as to what the Chargers will give their QB
Hopefully, before this happens, Herbert will get a group of talented, healthy teammates around him so he can truly show what he can do before negotiating his life-changing extension.