Is Andrew Luck, Or Any Quarterback, Worth A 10-Year Contract?

The Indianapolis Colts reportedly wanted to sign Andrew Luck to a lifetime deal, past deals of that length have been a bit of a mixed bag.

The Indianapolis Colts want to lock up their franchise quarterback for a long time. Ian Rapoport reported that Jim Irsay wanted to sign Andrew Luck to a 10-year deal while also making him the highest paid quarterback in annual salary as well. Joe Flacco currently holds that distinction at just over $22 million per year. 

While NFL deals often allows teams to cut a player early in the contract without losing too much money, a 10-year deal is still strange, something that exists in hockey, not the NFL. There have only been four previous deals of at least 10 years in length:

Drew Bledsoe - (2001) - 10 years, $103 million - New England Patriots

A highly productive quarterback, Bledsoe was (and still is) beloved by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "I remember feeling sad when Bobby Orr left," Kraft said when Bledsoe's 10-year deal was announced, referring to the NHL superstar who left Boston for Chicago at the end of his career. "I saw this as an opportunity to sign one of the great Patriots for the rest of his career." 

Of course, it didn't work the way Kraft expected. Bledsoe got hurt two games into the season and some guy named Brady took over. The rest, as they say, is history. Brady ran with the job, and Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills, where he started three years before going to Dallas for another two seasons. After signing his 10-year contract, Bledsoe had three more seasons of 20+ touchdowns, but never again reached his career high in yards, touchdowns, or wins.

Brett Favre - (2001) - 10 years, $101.5 million - Green Bay Packers

Favre signed his 10-year deal as a 32-year-old, but the Packers can't complain too much. In the seven seasons Favre had with the Packers after signing his extension, the team had five years of double-digit wins, and Favre had three seasons topping 30 touchdowns. He did have a career-high 29 interceptions in 2005, but Favre had a highly successful career even after signing his huge contract. 

The only negative for the Packers was Favre's unceremonious retirement and un-retirement. After a bad season with the New York Jets, Favre went to the rival Minnesota Vikings for two seasons, coming just minutes away from making the Super Bowl in 2009 when he threw 33 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions. 

All in all, both the Packers and Favre seemingly made a good decision in signing that 10-year contract.

Donovan McNabb - (2002) - 12 years, $115 million - Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are a much better comparison for Andrew Luck and the Colts because McNabb signed his 12-year contract as a 26-year-old coming off his first contract. This is the exact situation Luck is currently in, and the two players had relatively similar first four years.

McNabb:

Luck:

While McNabb was a relatively successful statistical quarterback throughout the rest of his career, including a career-year at age 28, he was unable to stay healthy and never truly lived up to the hopes of the Eagles. That being said, McNabb and the Eagles did make the Super Bowl in 2004, where they lost to the New England Patriots. 

Michael Vick - (2005) - 10 years, $130 million - Atlanta Falcons

Vick, like Bledsoe, is a bit of an anomaly. While the two obviously left their respective teams for different reasons, neither got a chance to start for the team that signed their mega-deal for longer than two years. However, Vick returned to the Eagles five seasons later and succeeded, so the Falcons signing him to a 10-year deal doesn't seem too far-fetched. 

It's unlikely that Luck's deal actually hits double-digits, but there is a precedent to a contract of this length, both good and bad. 


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