Jalen Hurts officially became the highest-paid player in NFL history this past week after signing a $255M contract extension. While there is plenty of debate as to how good the contract is, it should be a unanimous decision that he deserves every penny.
Jalen Hurts: The player
We don’t need to go into immense detail here because the proof is in the pudding. After being drafted by the Eagles moments before a total implosion, Hurts got to work. His debut in 2020 flashed plenty of promise and the games that followed reinforced the decision to select the Oklahoma standout in the second-round of that year draft. But there was work that needed to be done.
Hurts struggled on deep passes, didn’t have a ton of zip on short passes over the middle, and would often default to sprinting out of the pocket if his first read was taken away. These were all valid concerns and if he was to ever going step up and become the guy, they’d need improving.
Fast forward one year. Jalen’s first year as a starter is under a new Head Coach and involves learning a new system. He leads the Eagles to a playoff berth, bumping his completion percentage up to 61%, and ending the year with a 16-9 TD-INT ratio. Oh, and he rushed for nearly 800 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns. Jalen Hurt was here to stay and made a huge leap forward, showing that he can not only be a productive quarterback, but that he could be THE quarterback.
2022 saw an aggressive offseason from Howie Roseman that saw him tune in to Jalen.FM and listen to every word he said. Friends, former teammates, and high-character guys were brought in to create the dream environment for Hurts to thrive in…and the season that followed saw a jump in development like no other.
Hurts put together an MVP-worthy campaign and helped old pal A.J Brown push past the 1,000 yard mark along with DeVonta Smith. His passing was precise, his composure was unparalleled, and his trust in wideouts deep down the field was capitalized on again and again. It was a phenomenal season that not only showed how good he is, but how good he can still be.
His loss in Super Bowl LVII also showed Jalen Hurts‘ overall importance to the team. The quarterback accounted for 375 of the 415 yards of offense: over 80% of the offensive production for the birds in the Super Bowl.
Have you ever seen a quarterback develop as quickly as Jalen Hurts? Not one that puts up better numbers or is elevated by his team, but a quarterback that addresses every criticism or weakness in his game and makes it better. If there’s a flaw, it’ll be worked on. If there’s a weakness, it’ll be strengthened.
His desire to get better is inspiring and the results speak for themselves. His physical abilities on the field were always there, they just needed harnessing. The good news is that there is arguably no better mind in football suited to squeeze every last drop of that fruit than Jalen himself.
Jalen Hurts: The leader
If you’re going to pay someone $255M, they have to be fully bought into the franchise. Complacence won’t do. Hurts ensured that a no-trade clause was implemented into his five-year extension, showing his commitment to the team and the players around him for the next half-decade.
Was that really a surprise after everything we’ve seen? How he was able to take a broken locker room and bring it back together. How the fractures throughout the team magically healed once Hurts got into the huddle. How his postgame conferences were full of accountability and calmness rather than confusion and a lack of responsibility.
Players want to play with Jalen Hurts. We saw that last year and it’s not like the signs of stars wanting to fly to Philly have slowed down. His demeanor off the field and attitudes to life and football have helped cultivate an environment for those who share the same beliefs. And with a flurry of former team captains being drafted who all share that mentality, Hurts has become the unquestioned leader of this franchise, with everyone in that locker room looking up to him, a wise head on young shoulders.
His story off the field is well documented. From the adversity faced at Alabama to the hiring of his agent, Nicole Lynn, and the successes they continue to share together, breaking down boundaries and opening up the floodgates for a new generation who want to do the same, empowering black men, women, and children across the world.
Hurts is the kind of role model you want your kids to look up to, the kind of player you wish your team had, and the kind of person we can all aspire to be.
Yes, he’s worth every penny of that $255M contract.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke