Like Colts’ Andrew Luck, Raiders’ Derek Carr elevates QB salary bar


Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates a win over the Baltimore Ravens at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 20, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In the numbers-centric NFL, Andrew Luck wears No. 12 for the Indianapolis Colts, but now is No. 2 on the league’s financial landscape.

The one-time highest-paid player in league history – a per-year average of $24.594 million after signing his extension 12 months ago – fell a step behind Derek Carr Thursday. The Oakland quarterback moved to the head of the class after signing a five-year, $125 million contract.

That’s a best-ever $25 million per season, and we suggest Carr enjoy the distinction while he can. Waiting to surpass him are Washington’s Kirk Cousins and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford.

Cousins is operating under the $23.9 million franchise tag, but the Redskins are attempting to sign him to a long-term deal prior to the July 16 deadline for signing tagged players.

Stafford is in the final year of a three-year, $53 million extension, but negotiations are underway for what undoubtedly will be another bar-nudging extension.

“We’re working toward that, and hopefully we have some news later in the summer,’’ Lions general manager Bob Quinn told SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Lest you’ve forgotten, the NFL is a quarterback-driven endeavor.

Exhibit A: In terms of per-season average contract value, the top 14 players are quarterbacks. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill checks in at No. 14 ($19.25 million). Never mind he’s 37-40 as a starter in his five-year career and has yet to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs.

Need further proof teams will invest whatever it takes to retain a QB they deem franchise-level? Cousins, like Luck and Tannehill a member of the 2012 draft class, is 19-21-1 in the regular season and winless in two playoff games. Stafford, 29, is one of five QBs to throw for at least 5,000 yards in a season, but is 51-58 as a starter, including 5-46 against teams with winning records. He’s 0-3 in the postseason.

Look, a quarterback’s win-loss record might be one of the NFL’s most deceiving stats. A quality QB can be easily sabotaged by a deficient supporting cast while a good-but-hardly-great-one can excel if he’s aided by a stellar defense and special teams.

The fact remains virtually every owner/GM won’t hesitate to break the bank if he believes he’s got that guy.

Exhibit B: The oddsmakers at Bovada released their early favorites for MVP. The top seven and 10 of the top 11 are quarterbacks.

New England’s Tom Brady is the front-runner at 4/1 followed by Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (7/1), Carr (9/1), Dallas’ Dak Prescott (12/1), Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (12/1), Seattle’s Russell Wilson (12/1) and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (16/1).

Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is the first non-QB at 20/1.

Luck, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Carolina’s Cam Newton are next at 25/1.

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