With Deshaun Watson’s $177M Deal, Black QBs are the Face of the NFL

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Illustration: Eric Barrow/Deadspin

Pat Mahomes received his bank-breaking contract earlier this summer, so we knew it was a matter of time before Houston’s Deshaun Watson had the Brinks trucks rolled out for him.

Watson signed a four-year, $177.54 million deal with over $111 million of it guaranteed on Saturday, making the Houston Texans’ quarterback the highest-paid player in the NFL over those four years. Watson still has at least one more season on his rookie deal before a club option in 2021.


The 24-year-old’s blockbuster deal came two months after Mahomes’ record-breaking 10-year extension with the Chiefs worth over $477 million, though only $141 million of that is guaranteed. Mahomes still has two seasons on his rookie deal before the extension kicks in.

With Watson’s deal, the three highest-paid players in the NFL beginning in 2022 will be Black quarterbacks: Watson, Mahomes, and Russell Wilson. Which means this could set the tone for how the NFL speaks and pushes for racial equality in the future.


With the PSA’s that the NFL ran during the Super Bowl and the donation of over $250 million dollars the performative gestures have been taken up a notch. Most of that likely is because Pat Mahomes and other Black stars in the NFL spoke up in a video about systemic racism to league leadership. The players could have been one of the victims in the video.

But there is still the elephant in the room, Colin Kaepernick, the Black quarterback who started all this in the NFL, is still not on a roster. And neither is Eric Reid — who took a knee alongside Kaepernick when they were teammates in San Francisco — despite being a corner piece of the Panthers’ secondary last season.

As I’ve stated previously, there will need to be labor consequences for the NFL by its biggest stars to deliver tangible change. I’m sure if these players dig deep they can move forward with putting up a stand.


The Texans locking up Watson for at least the next five years shows that they trust in Watson’s potential of being a future league MVP and Super Bowl champion.

“We obviously have stated that we have so much belief in Deshaun,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said this spring. “We love Deshaun. We want him here for a long time.”


Mahomes and Watson were drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. They have both proven that they were the best quarterbacks to come out of that draft even if the Chicago Bears moved heaven and earth to get Mitch Trubisky before them.

We wouldn’t blame folks in Chicago for deciding to not to tune in to the NFL’s 2020 NFL season kickoff Thursday Night when the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans face off in a rematch of last season’ Divisional playoff.