Nick Bosa Strikes Gold: NFL Contracts in the Hundred-Millions Might be Achievable for All Positions, Not Just Quarterbacks

By: Elisaveta Vesselinova

NFL players are not required to be represented by agents, but having one is often in the player’s best interest, and can sometimes lead to a large payday.[1]

Nick Bosa, the defensive edge of the San Francisco 49ers, made headlines recently when he scored a record-breaking extension with the 49ers for a $170 million five-year contract extension after a lengthy holdout.[2]

Nick Bosa’s agent, Brian Ayrault, works for WME Football.[3] Some notable NFL players that Ayrault represents are Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, and Joey Bosa, among others.[4] This offseason, Ayrault negotiated and finalized two record-breaking NFL contracts on back-to-back days: Nick Bosa’s and Joe Burrow’s.[5] Both players are amongst the top ten NFL players with the highest contract value of 2023, with Bosa becoming the highest paid defensive player.[6]

However, these contracts are only a few examples of Ayrault’s expert negotiating. In addition to negotiating contracts, agents, such as Ayrault, advocate for players in terms of their popularity, contracts, and bodily autonomy.[7] Agents ensure that the player stands out from others in both their draft class and position for good reasons, and also ensure that negative attributes aren’t highlighted by the media.[8] Additionally,  agents can assist with money management and negotiate deals when players make big purchases.[9]

Some players are easier to advocate and negotiate contracts for than others. Nick Bosa has been a strong player long before joining the NFL.[10] His collegiate success and athleticism led him to be picked second overall in the 2019 draft by the San Francisco 49ers.[11] In his rookie year, Nick Bosa earned Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019.[12] Last season, he was awarded AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.[13]

Winning the Super Bowl is the goal for each NFL team every season.  One strategy to achieve this goal is to have a well-rounded team with strong players on both offense and defense. Many teams desire to have a strong quarterback, which is why the top nine players with highest contract value of 2023 are all quarterbacks.[14] In the past four years since Nick Bosa was drafted, the 49ers have gone to one Super Bowl (2019) and three NFC championships (2019, 2021, and 2022).[15] Nick Bosa is one of the many strong players who have contributed to the team’s success.[16] In 2020 and 2021, the 49ers negotiated with many players and offered extensions to maintain the strength of the team as a whole.[17] These precedents allowed for Nick Bosa and his agent to successfully negotiate such a large and historical contract.

The salary caps that the NFL imposes per team have been steadily increasing.[18] The salary cap for 2022 was $208.2 million and in 2023, it is $224.8 million, an increase of $16.6 million.[19] If the yearly salary cap continues to grow, high paying contracts like Nick Bosa’s might become more common. A growth in salary cap could also allow teams to negotiate high salary contracts with multiple players and build a stronger and more well-rounded team, rather than focusing all their funds on retaining just one player, which has historically been their franchise quarterback.[20]

[1] Good Agents do a lot More than Negotiate Contracts, NbcSports (July 23, 2015, 7:01 AM), [].

[2] Josh Dubow, 49ers Sign Nick Bosa to a Record-Setting Contract Extension to End his Lengthy Holdout, APNews (Sept. 6, 2023, 4:29 PM), [].

[3] Jacob Camenker, Who is Brian Ayrault? Meet the Agent Who Negotiated Joe Burrow and Nick Bosa’s Record-Breaking Contracts, SportingNews (Sept. 8, 2023), [].

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] 2023 Contract Value Rankings, Spotrac, [].

[7] Good Agents do a lot More than Negotiate Contract, supra note 1.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Rob Goldberg, Nick Bosa’s $17.9M 5th-Year Option on Rookie Contract Exercised by 49ers, Bleacher Report (April 25, 2022), [].

[11] Goldberg, supra note 13.

[12] Id.

[13] Nick Shook, Niners Edge Nick Bosa Agrees to Terms on Record 5-year, $170M Extension, NFL (Sept. 6, 2023, 3:49 PM), [].

[14] 2023 Contract Value Rankings, supra note 8.

[15] Aaron Tolentino, How the 49ers Fared in Their Last 5 NFC Championship Games, KRON4 (Jan. 26, 2023, 5:13 PM), [].

[16] Joel Corry, Agent’s Take: Considerations for Nick Bosa’s Next Contract as 49ers Edge Rusher Looks to Reset the Market, CBSSports (July 26, 2023, 1:47 PM), [].

[17] Id.

[18] Anthony Holzman-Escareno, 2023 NFL Free Agency Explainer: Vital Information on Franchise Tags, Contract Terms, Salary Cap and More, NFL (Feb. 28, 2023, 4:05 PM), [].

[19] Id.

[20] Andrew Brandt, Big Quarterback Contracts are Not the Problem. Salary Cap Management Is, SI (Feb. 22, 2023), [].