The New England Patriots have an ideal situation at quarterback. But it won't last forever.
Mac Jones has had an excellent first season, emerging as a Rookie of the Year candidate while completing 70.3% of his passes. He's also making just $660,000 in base salary with a cap hit of $2.8 million (39th among all NFL QBs) on his rookie deal, and the money the Patriots are saving at quarterback allowed them to spend big in 2021 free agency.
Jones' early success also means he could command a hefty second contract, though. During an appearance Wednesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer broke down when a new deal for Jones could come and what it might look like.
"You cannot extend him until after his third year, which means the first point you could extend Mac Jones would be 2024," Breer said, as seen in the video above. "What (the Patriots) did with (Tom) Brady at first that set the whole thing off was extend him after two years. So they were able to get him really cheap, which set the stage for a series of contract negotiations where they had the hammer on Brady.
"You're not going to be able to do that with Mac Jones, A) because he's a first-round pick, so he has more financial leverage, and B) because the rules don't allow it."
Breer explained that the salary cap for NFL teams -- which is currently set at $182.5 million in 2021 -- could nearly double by 2024 thanks to new TV deals that go into effect in 2023 and an infusion of revenue from sports gambling.
And more money for teams to spend means more money going to the next wave of top QBs.
"You know where we're going to be in 2024? Maybe a $300 million salary cap," Breer said. "... So if the Jaguars see a $300 million salary cap and pay Trevor Lawrence $65 million a year, you know what Mac Jones is going to be looking for? $65 million a year."
For context, Kansas City Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes is the NFL's current highest-paid quarterback at $45 million per year. So, $65 million per year is an extremely large number.
But QB contracts will continue to rise over the next three years, and if Lawrence and Jones' next contract negotiations coincide with a spike in NFL salary caps, the result could be a huge windfall for the next generation of signal-callers.