Sam Darnold's new contract makes Steelers deal with Russell Wilson even sweeter

You don't have to be the biggest Russell Wilson fan to see that Pittsburgh got a steal of a deal when compared to other quarterbacks.

San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers
San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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Free agent quarterbacks are flying off the shelf as the NFL's legal tampering period continues. One day after the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to a contract with veteran QB Russell Wilson, there was a run on quarterbacks landing with new teams in free agency.

The biggest splash came from the top quarterback on the market: Kirk Cousins. As it was often speculated in the weeks leading up to free agency, Cousins will join the Atlanta Falcons on a lucrative four-year, $135 million contract with $100 million in guaranteed money and $50 million at signing, per NFL reporter Aaron Wilson.

Late at night after the NFL's legal tampering period was underway, the Minnesota Vikings agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract with Sam Darnold. Then on the day before free agency officially opens, the Cleveland Browns came to an agreement to sign veteran QB Jameis Winston to a one-year deal worth up to $8.7 million.

Steelers contract with Russell Wilson looks like the steal of free agency

While we knew that Cousins was going to sign a massive deal with his new team, other quarterback contracts proved to be pricey. Minnesota's deal with Sam Darnold is particularly interesting.

Despite the fact that Darnold has started just 7 games since 2021, the Vikings were willing to hand him $10 million for the 2024 season. This is over eight times more than the Pittsburgh Steelers gave Russell Wilson on his one-year, $1.2 million contract.

Though Darnold is much younger than Wilson, has a career completion percentage of 59.7 percent while nearly a one-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio. Somehow, his 78.3 career passer rating in six NFL seasons is slightly worse than Kenny Pickett's. During this time, Darnold has led his team to a record of just 21-35 as a starter while throwing for 182.8 yards per game, per Pro Football Reference.

As much as Russell Wilson has struggled in recent years, there's really no comparison between these two quarterbacks. Even if you take the three worst years of his career (2021 to 2023), Wilson still has 67 touchdowns and 25 interceptions while throwing for 7.3 yards per attempt and over 220 yards per game. Wilson also earned one of his nine Pro Bowl honors during this span.

Wilson is not the same quarterback he once was, but there's a very good chance that he's better than Sam Darnold (who may be forced into being a starting quarterback for the Vikings in 2024). The best part is that Wilson comes at just one-eighth of the cost.

Russell Wilson's contract is also less than what backups like Jameis Winston (Browns) and Mitch Trubisky (Bills) are earning in 2024. You don't have to be a fan of Wilson to know how good this contract looks... and it's even sweeter after seeing the deals that lesser quarterbacks are signing in 2024.

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