Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa; who signs a second contract first?

With the offseason fast approaching full bloom, one of the big questions becomes when (or if) the quarterbacks drafted in 2020 will sign second contracts.

The candidates to get paid are Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, and Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Hurts, the only one who wasn’t taken in round one, has only one year left under his rookie deal. Tua will be in the same spot, if the Dolphins don’t pick up his fifth-year option.

So who goes first? The Eagles have the greatest urgency, because they don’t have the luxury of two more seasons before the franchise-tag dance commences. But the players (and their agents) may want to wait for others to go first, in order to use prior deals as a baseline to try to beat.

The situation creates an obvious tension for the players. On one hand, they should strive to get every dollar they can. On the other hand, they may feel compelled to leave money behind, in order to ensure that there will be enough cash and cap space to keep a competitive team around him.

The best of the best football players have a limited number of years in which they enjoy maximum earning capacity. The window lasts longer, typically, for quarterbacks. But teams are willing to pay only for greatness; the moment that the player’s skills diminish, the team starts looking elsewhere. Thus, there’s wisdom in selfishness, even if that requires a willingness to ignore being characterized unfairly by fans and media as selfish.

Regardless, someone will have to go first. And with a fairly broad range at the upper reaches of the quarterback market, it’s not quite as simple as each quarterback saying, “Make me the highest paid.”

Also complicating the situation is the possibility that the Ravens will apply the non-exclusive franchise tag to quarterback Lamar Jackson, and that some other team will offer him a Deshaun Watson-style deal, in defiance of the collusive wishes of the Management Council. That would become a key data point in the negotiation of contracts for Hurts, Burrow, Herbert, and/or Tua.

Through it all, the best and most fair arrangement would be to tie a quarterback’s compensation to a percentage of the cap. That would give the team certainty as to the cents per dollar available for other players, and it would prevent a long-term deal from becoming obsolete within a few years, like the Patrick Mahomes contract already is.

But the powers-that-be have resisted this approach even more strongly than they have resisted the five-year, fully-guaranteed deal that the Browns gave to Watson. To make a deal based on cap-percentage happen, someone will have to be willing to give a not-so-subtle middle finger to the Management Council.

If anyone is willing to be the first one to do that, it would be Bengals owner Mike Brown.

Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa; who signs a second contract first? originally appeared on Pro Football Talk