The Catch-22 of A Superstar Quarterback

The Holy Grail for any GM and front office is to find the “mythical” franchise quarterback.  Whether it’s by draft or trade, finding a quarterback that can be the face of a franchise is the top priority of every team save the ones that already have one, and there aren’t many out there that can say they have one.  A GM can essentially make a name for himself just by finding a franchise quarterback; Bill Polian picked Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf, Ron Wolf perhaps made the best trade in Packers history by getting Brett Favre and Ted Thompson had the foresight to not pass over Aaron Rodgers even when 23 other teams did.  Sure each GM had their fair share of mistakes (cough cough, Justin Harrell) but when it comes down to it, Polian and Wolf are in the Hall of Fame and Thompson may join them because they were able to find a franchise quarterback and then build a team around him.

The franchise quarterback is such a rare breed that they are in their own conversation when it comes to money; while Ndamukong Suh’s $19 million yearly contract was labeled perhaps the worse in all history since there’s no way he’ll ever be able to live up to his contract, Ryan Tanehill was given a $19 million yearly contract right afterwards as well and most observers noted what a “team-friendly” deal it was.  Naturally there is more to the Dolphins respective contracts than just yearly value, but the point is teams negotiate with quarterbacks one way and the rest of the players another way.

However, while I’m sure the Green Bay Packers were more than happy to make Aaron Rodger the highest paid player in history, recent history has suggested that this in actually a poor move.  In the last 20 years, only 1 quarterback has eaten up more salary cap and won a Super Bowl, which is Steve Young in 1994.  The average salary cap percentage of the winning Super Bowl quarterback is 6% while Aaron Rodgers last year was closer to double that.  It should be mentioned that Aaron Rodgers in 2014 was a markedly superior player than Aaron Rodgers in 2010, but in 2010 Rodgers only took up 5% of the salary cap (projected since there was no salary cap that year) and won a Super Bowl.

Further research has shown that NFL teams that follow a “super star” approach (meaning spending heavily on a few players who are the best at their position and rounding out the team with lower priced, less talented players) tend to do worse than their more balanced counterparts and this is exemplified by the quarterback position, which typically is the most contract skewed position on the team.  A couple of reasons have been raised, one being that lower priced players are unhappy with the inequity (which I don’t agree on), injuries can be more devastating if it happens to occur on a “super star” team (see the 2013 Packers), but perhaps most likely is that spending so much on one player is a detriment to the rest of the team in terms of fielding a balanced team.

Now what is a NFL team supposed to do?  NFL front offices work tirelessly to find a franchise quarterback, then draft players to fit his play style and in a stroke of luck all that actually happens the way you want, you are never going to let him go until his arm falls off (even maybe not then as the Colts showed with Peyton Manning in 2011).  NFL teams have proven that they will basically pay any price for a franchise quarterback and will even lavishly overspend for quarterbacks that are only average.

For the Packers specifically, Aaron Rodgers is perhaps a generational talent and worth every penny that he signed for, but having Rodgers on the team is a historically distinct disadvantage when it comes to winning a Super Bowl.  Having Rodgers at $22 million yearly means that other parts of the team can’t be as strong; to Thompson’s credit, he’s fielded a competitive team every year with Rodgers, Matthews, Nelson and Cobb all on premium contracts by balancing out the rest of the roster with “undervalued” players, namely draft picks who outplay their contracts (i.e. Linsley, Daniels and Lacy).

And to be honest, it could be a lot worse.  There are plenty of teams who are paying way more than they probably should for quarterbacks who are only good enough, Andy Dalton perhaps exemplifies a quarterback that is good enough to win you game but isn’t one that will inspire a team to follow him.  The league is starting to correct itself with average quarterbacks as well; going back to Ryan Tanehill, the contract he signed with the Dolphins functions a lot like Colin Kaepernick’s where it’s somewhat structured to be a “pay as you go” agreement where every year more and more money becomes guaranteed.

The absolute worst situation is thinking you have a true franchise quarterback when in reality you don’t; Jay Cutler is the poster child for a GMs nightmare, on one hand Cutler possess every physical and mental trait required for a franchise quarterback but you almost know he’ll never put it all together and he certainly can’t inspire his team to play for him.  You have to pay Cutler like a franchise quarterback because if you don’t someone else will and when he flops, you can’t cut him or find his replacement since you’ve already invested so much money into Cutler.

Perhaps one can file this as a “good problem to have” but as with all things in life, there are two sides of a coin.  In the end Ted Thompson would be insane to let Rodgers go, but by proving his sanity by letting Rodgers go would only go to prove his insanity.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • aaronqb

    The Packers were a 3-minute collapse away from a Super Bowl appearance – even with Rodgers at 50%. I think the Packer model is fine. You can’t win without a franchise QB. You need to pay them market value to retain them and keep them happy.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I’m not arguing that you don’t need good play to win a Super Bowl, I’m arguing that the market value for franchise quarterbacks is exaggerated beyond what actually makes sense from an economic standpoint.

      • Dan Stodola

        Actually from an economical standpoint a franchise QB makes a lot of sense and pays for himself via franchise value, jersey and other similar sales. Its from a competitive standpoint that it may not make sense.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          That is a very valid point; Johnny Manziel probably made the Browns more money that Rodgers from all that you mentioned above. However, I’m mostly concerning myself with the competitive standpoint since the salary cap is finite and optimizing the salary cap is probably the most probable way of winning a Super Bowl.

          • Dan Stodola

            Of course you can’t win or get to a SB w/o a franchise QB, and in some ways you can’t win one w/ a franchise QB. Its from the salary cap perspective its become more difficult to win one. Would that be micro-economics vs macro-economics?
            It does get to be a bit of a catch-22 if you have a franchise QB.

            • Thomas Hobbes

              I’d guess micro-economics since this issue is only applicable to maybe 4-5 teams.

      • I am willing to be persuaded that elite QBs are overpaid. I’d suggest instead that decent starting QBs are grossly overpaid. Until Tannenhill, Dalton, etc., make $8-$10 million or so, which might allow a GM to buy two to 4 pretty good players and/or retain several, I don’t see the other model as being viable, long term.

        BTW, the $5 million fund being raised by Seattle fans and which is meant to be paid directly to Wilson in return for a cap friendly deal IMO could well mean the end of GB as a viable franchise. It is a dangerous development.

        • Ed Schoenfeld

          If the Seattle fans are actually allowed to do that, the league will be forced to allow Green Bay to use stock sale money for salaries. (There may be a court case intervening.)

          *No* other NFL owner wants to give the Packers that kind of advantage.

          The other alternative is that it just counts toward the salary cap like any other player money, and changes nothing.

          • Thomas Hobbes

            As far as I know, there’s no way for the NFL to actually stop fans from paying players directly, since it’s individuals giving money to another individual. But in the grand scheme of things, unless they are planning on raising $5 million every year no matter how well the Seahawks do, $5 million out of a $100+ million contract is a drop in the bucket.

            • I am not really sure how to stop it. The NCAA manages to stop (for the most part?) boosters from giving gifts to players. I’d imagine the NFL would have to penalize the team rather than the player. I also think cap space is precious, and that $5 million every so often would be a big help. I suppose the promise of a lucrative endorsement package if the player will sign with the home team would be nigh on impossible to police.

            • Nikhil

              They wont try to stop it, they will just account for it in the cap and hold the Seahawks organization to the same net salary cap. The cap isnt meant to protect the teams (which fans paying players protects), its meant to protect the league (which fans paying players hurts). It will be capped.

              • Thomas Hobbes

                What would they do if for instance, they took the money they raised, and then paid Wilson an endorsement contract (say for a hospital or something)? Obviously you’d have to go on good faith that Wilson would lower his contract by an equal amount but there are loopholes

  • mark gast

    How much of NE’s cap does Brady take up? How much did Manning take up in 2006 and how much does he take up now?

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Brady took up 9.5% this year and Manning took up 10.4%. With Rodgers taking something like 12%, that 3% difference between Brady and Rodgers in salary cap spending is akin to signing another Jordy Nelson.

      I will say that one of the reasons why many people have postulated that Brady has won so many Super Bowls is that he’s willing to play for below market value in order to make his team more competitive. Maybe he has the freedom since he’s one of the few players whose wife actually makes more than him.

      • Dan Stodola

        IIRC Brady won 3 of his SB rings before his rookie contract ended. He was one of the highest paid QB’s in the game the next 8+ yrs till last year before which I believe he decided to take a lower salary. He had made more money, along w/ his model wife than they could possibly spend and was in the final few years of being an elite QB. He wanted a chance to win another SB. Wonder if Rodgers will do the same if/when it comes to that and if it’ll work like it did for Brady.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          As far as I can remember, Brady is the first to take a significantly team friendly contract in order to keep the team competitive. Whether or not Rodgers would do the same is up in the air; on one hand he’s already won SB and if he keeps up his current pace, I think he’s a hall of famer already. On the other hand, if he really wants to separate himself from Favre (which might not be such a big deal any more), then he might reduce his salary near the end of his career to get another shot.

          • TedTomsin

            If Olivia becomes a giant star and her earnings continue to soar than Rodgers could very well take the pay cut. Of course he has to get married first. She doesn’t come close to what Brady’s wife earns but she’s in the right career for it to happen. You just never know. One blockbuster movie she stars in and she’s gold. Rodgers takes the pay cut and the Packers win multiple super bowls. So I guess the entire future of the Packers depends on Olivia Munn. Crazy I know.
            Ted

            • Dan Stodola

              I wouldn’t go to that extent. And I don’t think Olivia will ever be the star that Brady’s wife is. Either way Rodgers will probably earn in excess of $200M for his football career. I was just wondering aloud If at some point in 6 or 7 yrs, Rodgers might do something similar. He very well could, IDK.

            • Thomas Hobbes

              I’m pretty sure Gisele Bundchen is pretty much out of the league in terms of net worth. Estimates put her at about $320 million while Munn is worth around $10 million. On the other side, Rodgers is getting paid more than enough to take a pay cut and still live a very comfortable life, so it’s really up to him.

            • Nikhil

              Rodgers doesnt need Olivia to become a star. He has enough money.

          • NemoOutis

            Without doing an in-depth analysis of both Brady’s and Rodgers’ finances, perhaps Brady — by winning more SBs — augments his salary with more outside money from endorsements, speaking engagements, etc. IMO, Rodgers would be unwise to take a pay cut even if he finishes his career with just 1 SB. Until “deflategate,” Brady was much more marketable commercially. Perhaps he still is. To be brutally honest, Rodgers lacks Brady’s charisma, doesn’t have a super model wife, and his team represents a much smaller market economically.

            • Dan Stodola

              The Packers represent a national market. They have fans thoughout the country. Brady might actually be more localized that Rodgers is. Don’t discount the Packer Nation. 🙂 I also don’t necessarily agree that Rodgers lack Brady’s charisma.

            • Thomas Hobbes

              This is all true, but if we are talking about living a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of his life, Rodgers I’m sure has that covered unless he turns into the next Vince Young in terms of wasting money. I think he could definitely take a pay cut in the future to help the team if he wanted.

            • Nikhil

              Not sure how you come to that conclusion. I dont think Ive ever seen Brady on a nationally televised commercial. Not saying it hasnt happened, but if it did it didnt get much attention. Gronk gets more national attention; Brady is regional.

              • Thomas Hobbes

                I think he’s a spokesperson for UGGs and a watch company at least.

      • 3% of the salary cap difference is akin to signing Mike Neal, not Jordy Nelson.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          Nelson and Neal are both have cap numbers of roughly 3% of the cap.

          • Tsk, tsk, you’re cherry-picking the year, bending the facts to fit your argument. Nelson’s cap hits are $4.6, $8.8, $11.55, $12.55 million. Mike Neal signed a rookie deal worth 4 yrs. $3.1 million, and was re-signed for 2 yrs, $8 million. Mike Neal isn’t going to earn much more than $4m/yr. It is like asserting that the cost of my newly leased vehicle is $1, the cost of the first month, ignoring the $450/month price tag for the next 38 months.

            • Thomas Hobbes

              Fair enough, then perhaps TJ Lang represents the upper end of 3% while Neal represents the lower end.

  • Taryn Miller

    As long as the salary cap rises yearly,teams with true franchise QB’s will be fine to keep the other(s) of high quality as like the Packers with Nelson,Cobb,Bulaga etc,when necessary.If the salary cap hadn’t or doesn’t rise than retaining even the élite QB may offer no better a guarantee of team success as those who haven’t an élite QB,as retaining the other(s) is more unlikely.This yearly expected and hoped for rise in cap is the main, if not the only thing other than poor spending, that keeps teams from actually being true mirror images of each other or at least allow a couple to reach beyond the competitive equality that was bally hoed as the NFL’s goal .

    • Thomas Hobbes

      At this point I can’t imagine the salary cap not rising based on the popularity of the game but there will be a point where the market hits saturation (hence why the NFL is hell bent on getting more female and European viewers).

      I think the turning point is going to be Andrew Luck; if he follows the old model and breaks the bank then quarterback spending will continue to rise. If he follows a contract structure more like Kaepernick and Tanehill, then you could see the QB market take a fall. My feeling is that the Colts will pay through the nose since they’ve did something similar with Manning and Luck is the next coming of Manning at least in the eyes of the Colts. Of course, if Wilson does do a fully guaranteed contract that would throw everything out the window.

  • TedTomsin

    ” In the end Ted Thompson would be insane to let Rodgers go, but by proving his sanity by letting Rodgers go would only go to prove his insanity.”
    I’m trying to figure this one out yet. Read it three times. You had me up to this point. Why am I having a hard time with this?
    Ted

    • Thomas Hobbes

      That was my poor attempt to summarize Catch-22; for those who don’t know Catch-22 was a book about bomber pilot in WWII who felt like his superiors were sending him out on suicide missions. The only way to get out of flying suicidal missions was to claim you were mentally insane. However, you had to fill out a form claiming that you were mentally insane, but by filling out the form you actually proved you were sane (i.e. sane enough to fill out the form correctly).

      Going back to Thompson, if he comes to realize that paying Rodgers so much is a detriment to the rest of the team, he can cut Rodgers to prove he’s sane. However, cutting Rodgers is in fact a ridiculous idea and Thompson would only prove to everyone that he is in fact insane.

      • TedTomsin

        Thanks for the explanation Mr. Hobbes. I never read the book but now it makes sense and funny too. Yes, I agree now.
        Ted

  • TedTomsin

    As far as qb’s and salary cap issues go, it’s time for Seattle to pay Russell Wilson. Now let’s see how the great John Schneider is now that he’s not paying Wilson minimum wage.
    Ted

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I agree, Russell is an interesting case since he’s won a Super Bowl but I don’t think anyone outside of his agent is convinced that the Seahawks are built around him. I would argue if anything, Russell is built around the defense and the running game and not the other way around.

      I seriously hope that the Seahawks don’t destroy precedent and give Wilson a fully guaranteed contract. Living in Canada, the NHL is king and for some reason they use fully guaranteed contracts that actually increase as players get older. There have been several occasions where both the players and team hate the contract but neither can terminate it since it’s fully guaranteed. It’s kind of funny to watch as players get more disgruntled, teams get more exacerbated and the money paid out actually goes up.

      • TedTomsin

        I agree Seattle is built around that defense and the running game at this point in time. I do think Wilson is a borderline elite qb. He’s not Rodgers numbers wise but I think of him more like Bart Starr, a winner. I think his leadership and his work ethic are just as valuable. I loved him coming out of college and was hoping TT would pick him up just to keep him off the market.
        Now that he’s on Seattle I only hope bad things for that team. I actually hope they do destroy precedent and give Wilson a fully guaranteed. Anything that is bad for Seattle is good for the Packers is how I see it. Excellent article by the way.
        Ted

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I think the same question that Rodgers ran into early on in his career applies to Wilson now; namely is his production because of his teammates or him. In 2008 Rodgers had an average/slightly above average season and many were quick to point out that the 2007 squad almost made it to the Super Bowl so Rodgers supporting cast was good enough to carry him into the playoffs (which of course they didn’t make in 2008). However since then, its become pretty obvious that Rodgers has been carrying the team for the last couple years.

          At this point Wilson hasn’t been through that test. I think when Lynch finally retires and the defense takes some bigger hits then we’ll finally know if Wilson is an elite QB.

  • marpag

    I’m not sure what to call it. Call it a “catch 22” if you want to, or call it “the reality of doing business in today’s NFL.” Call it “highway robbery” or anything else you like. But whatever you call it, the opposite of that is called “losing,” and I don’t think any of us are OK with that.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Fans are understandably OK with paying over market value for franchise quarterbacks, but it is inherently inefficient to pay more than what you get back. A lot of players have contracts “that they can never live up to”; ones that come to mind like Albert Haynesworth and Suh pretty much guarantee some sort of modification to the contract down the road. I would argue QBs are the same except teams are afraid to re-negotiate with QBs since their status has been inflated to the point where they are in essence untouchable. Look at Jay Cutler, I don’t think even the most hard core Bears fans can say that Cutler is performing to his contract and yet the Bears haven’t done anything because they can’t.

      • marpag

        Clearly, no one is arguing in defense of stupidity. Jay Cutler has never accomplished anything of note, except that he is a first class coach killer. ARod is a two-time MVP, a Superbowl winner and the owner of the highest career passer rating in history. Are we really saying that Cutler’s unbelievably stupid contract ought to teach us that we shouldn’t pay a similar amount to Rodgers??

        That’s like saying, “Albert Haynesworth’s contract proves that no one should ever give similar money to JJ Watt.” Is that apples to apples…. or even close to it?

        • Thomas Hobbes

          The argument is basically, if Cutler is worth $126 million, then Rodgers must be that much more expensive right? The problem is that Cutler isn’t worth $26 million at this point and the Bears shouldn’t have paid him to start out with. One possible reason that franchise quarterbacks have being paid above market value is that teams, hoping they have found a franchise quarterback are grossly overpaying largely average guys, which then drives up the price of actual franchise quarterbacks.

      • I get what you’re saying. I don’t agree with the premise, precisely. I don’t think Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Luck and Peyton (before his apparent decline) are overpaid. I do agree that mid level QBs, guys you can win with but don’t help you win, and worse, guys that you can’t win with, are grossly overpaid.

        GMs have egos, and also once they have made the decision to pay big for a QB, even if they pay based on potential rather than production, if they admit that the QB is a bust by asking for a pay cut, they lose their jobs. GMs are thus understandably reluctant to throw their high-priced QB under the bus. Just in March of 2014, Cutler converted $5 million of salary to a signing bonus (to free up $4 million in cap space), thus making him harder to cut for a longer period of time.

        Emory didn’t renegotiate because Cutler was his baby. The new Chi GM hasn’t renegotiated Cutler’s contract not because of his status as a QB but because Cutler has $29 million in dead money. If I were Cutler and the GM asked me to forego my $29 million guaranteed money, I’d simply say no. After this season the dead $ goes down to $13 million with a $4 million cap savings. The new GM will cut or re-negotiate before March of 2016, when yet more of Cutler’s money becomes fully guaranteed.

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    I’d want to see the actual ‘pay inequity’ numbers in that study and exactly what makes anyone think the Packers have more ‘inequity’ in their pay structure than other teams.

    As far as i can see, every one of the so-called ‘cheap’ players on the Packers are on their rookie contracts, which are equally inequitable across the entire league. Every rookie through 4th year player knows that their contract is slotted by their draft position. The only ‘unfairness’ would happen when players are extended.

    Meanwhile, ever player who is on a subsequent contract was signed for a market level amount — whether like Jordy Nelson it was an extension, or like Cobb, Bulaga, and players down to Neal and Raji who were allowed to test the market, find their value and then agreed to a contract that kept them with Green Bay. Players who sign for more $ than the value their play will provide are allowed to walk (Tramon Williams, Davon House this year) or cut when their play doesn’t match (Hawk and Brad Jones, also this year- and in their play clearly declined over the course of 2014). If you look at earlier years there are as many examples either way.

    Focussing on a single contract number (Aaron Rodgers’) is really insufficient information. The better number to look at would be the median contract value, both for starters (12th salary if you include the K and P) and then for the whole team (where the 26th and 27th salaries). You might then also look at any non-starters who are higher in the pay rate than non-rookie contract starters — right now the only one I can think of is Mike Neal.

    Is having one player paid at a higher rate than playing time suggests — and that player having a major rotational role — really enough to poison the well for everyone else in the locker room? More so than for other teams in the league who have a bigger legacy of free-agency busts still getting overpaid than Tightwad Ted has ever let on the team?

    I think if you look at the Packers whole salary structure for ‘fairness;’ you will find that we are in outstanding shape compared to the rest of the league.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I think you are thinking only in terms of the Packers while I was thinking more in terms of the entire league. The bigger question to ask is can a franchise quarterback with a gigantic cap number ever live up to his contract? I would say we are starting to see an active push back towards more pay-performance equitable contracts as more and more teams are going for incentive-based and “pay as you go” agreements. Now to be sure, the quarterbacks that have been signing contracts recently haven’t been the same caliber as Rodgers but it will be interesting to see what kind of deal Luck gets.

      • Ed Schoenfeld

        You are right that I was critiquing your premise as it applies to the Packers. But I think my comments also apply to many other teams in the league.

        You state elsewhere that Brady took less than 10% of the Pats cap. But that is still a huge chunk of the revenue tied up in one guy. The difference between 10% (Brady) and 12% (Rodgers) is about one middle of the road veteran (maybe not even a starter.)

        For every team the biggest ‘inequity’ is that guys on their rookie contracts make way less than guys doing the same job who are on their second contracts — and every rookie knows that going in, so the ‘dissatisfaction’ factor seems fairly evenly spread out across the league to me.

        The fact is its tough to win championships period. If QB contract amount had a determinative effect on being able to win championships, teams like Jacksonville and Houston would play in the Superbowl every year (I mean Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick were seriously cheap acquisitions at QB 🙂 So there has to be something else involved in those franchises failures to thrive 🙂

        What I will agree with is the more general point that cap efficiency is an important part of building a winner. But that includes a lot more numbers than just one player’s contract, however large the money being paid to QBs is getting. Not just the ‘median’ numbers I mentioned but stuff like dead cap and wasted opportunities to keep core players because you blew your budget on an overpriced UFA would go into the mix.

        More and more even the high-powered QBs are getting contracts that spread the cap hit fairly evenly throughout the life of the deal — Rodgers’ deal was one of the first of those (sorry, but the Pack is what I keep myself the most informed about), and Brady’s famous extension was not about taking less money (he never took less than market value) but about spreading the cap hit more evenly.

        So while the academic paper you referenced makes some interesting points, the scope of the research is just too narrow to mean much.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          To be honest, I’m not sure if rookies are dissatisfied on their rookie deals. Most if not all rookies come into the league making exactly $0 as “student-athletes” (well according to the rules at least) and getting a contract in the rounds 1-3 is still nothing to laugh at.

          Secondly, having a high priced quarterback win the Super Bowl is still the exception rather than the norm; only 4 quarterbacks have won a Super Bowl while taking up over 10% of the cap, Brady and Manning are two of those. As you mentioned, obviously not paying quarterbacks is also not a way to win a Super Bowl or Chad Henne would be a Super Bowl winner; as I mentioned above 6% is the average and that seems like a fairly logical place to start when determining a break even point for production versus salary.

      • You might be right about Luck, but he is expected to be truly a generational talent, so I expect the blow back to arise from the significant contract Miami just gave Tannenhill, and QBs like him.

  • I suspect that I was predisposed to agree with your premise, but upon reflection, I essentially disagree. I see having a very good to elite QB as a prerequisite to winning a Super Bowl. The list of winning QBs supports my view. Since 1994, the winning SB QBs were: Young, Aikman, Favre, Elway x2, Warner, Dilfer, Brady x4, Brad Johnson, Roethlisberger x2, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning x2, Flacco, Wilson and Rodgers.

    Not an average QB in the bunch, arguably, except I suppose, Dilfer, who probably was average (76.6 rating, reg. season and 83.7 during the playoffs, but coupled with Baltimore’s #1 defense), essentially the model espoused by the article. Brad Johnson in 2002 had a QB rating for the season of 92.9. Elway is remembered as having been on his last legs, but his ratings in 1997 and 1998 were 87.5 and 93, respectively. Wilson’s rating in 2013 was 101.2. Flacco’s rating was 87.7. Some might point to Eli Manning, but his rating in 2011 was 92.9. In 2007, it was only 73.9, but his 9-7 team got some stars back and got hot at the right time, and was perhaps built for the playoffs (very physical team).

    The difference between a QB with a $19 million cap versus one with a $15 million cap buys you Mike Neal. Of course, being so fortunate as to get a QB playing well on a rookie contract (say $19 mill versus < $1 million) will allow a GM to buy 3 or 4 pretty good players, or 2 excellent players, but this is not sustainable. As long as mediocre QB who only by a stretch of the imagination can get a team to the SB still earns $14, $16 million, the model has to be to get the best one possible, and pay him if need be.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I’m not arguing that good or great QB isn’t required to win a Super Bowl, I’m arguing that having a good to great QB on a below market value contract is more likely to win a Super Bowl. Of course if you have a franchise quarterback you will eventually have to pay them above market value, hence the catch-22.

      You keep bringing up Mike Neal and I bring up Jordy Nelson, both are valid, and it’s more circumstance that actual value. Neal is probably overpaid while Nelson is probably underpaid. Let’s just agree that at 3% of the salary cap, teams can expect at least a solid starter, which is a significant addition.

      Finally, I would argue that mediocre QBs is probably the reason why the equity in QB contracts is so skewed. The moment Joe Flacco basically won the lottery as a average quarterback, all other QBs started licking their chops. Would you agree that a mediocre QB is worth $14-16 million? I don’t.

      • We have reached agreement! The Daltons, Tannehills, Wilsons, Palmers and Alex Smiths, are not worth $14-$16 mill.

        I have not thought through how much they are worth, though. A couple of them are guys who do make the defense respect the pass, and with whom a team can win a super bowl, ala Brad Johnson. I’ll throw out a figure – 10th highest WR $: about $9 to $10 million/yr.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          One interesting point you bring up is how much is a quarterback valued? It’s a pretty hard figure to work out since quarterback is essentially tied directly to every aspect of the offense and some parts of the defense. If you take a kicker, you can pretty much calculate his value based on the number of points he scores, his accuracy, how far he can kick the ball etc. I don’t know where I would begin to look at quarterback value outside of his personal statistics.

  • Archie

    No player should make more than 10% of the cap. Problem solved.

  • mark

    roflma, Jay Cutler loves this. It’s not him, its the rest of the team.