The Growing Market for Quarterbacks

The one immutable truth of successful football teams is average to incredible quarterback play. In fact, the quarterback position is so important, a man who played in seven games this season, starting six of them, just signed a four year deal with the Houston Texans on March 9th, 2016. The deal was worth $72 million total, $37 million was fully guaranteed including a $12 million dollar signing bonus. In the first year of his deal, he will make $12 million dollars. After, the cap hit jumps sharply up to $19, $21, and $20 million through each respective year.

While the market for quarterbacks has always been inflated and growing, the origin of the sheer expense lays in 2012 when QB Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, signed a $100 million dollar, five year extension. That particular contract featured $60 million in guaranteed money with a $37 million signing bonus, placing the per year mark of his salary right around $20 million. Understandable, considering Drew Brees is an All-Pro QB with a Super Bowl ring, so why did Brock Osweiler get paid almost as much as Drew?

The answer is that nine more quarterbacks have signed contract extensions or deals since Drew Brees in 2012, every single one of those deals have been worth more than $20 million per year. You could chock it up to successful quarterbacks, except guys like Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, and Colin Kaepernick all make over $17 million dollars a year. Since Ryan Tannehill joined the Miami Dolphins in 2012, his team has yet to have a season over .500 in win percentage. Joe Flacco is the most successful of this group, winning the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers with the Baltimore Ravens and has several playoff appearances on his résumé; however he tore his ACL this season while his team struggled to a 5–11 record.. Colin Kaepernick has lead his team to one Super Bowl, lost, an NFC Championship game, lost, and has since not been on a team with a record over .500. The only QB who has started two or more seasons (and isn’t on a rookie deal) that makes less than $17 million is Tom Brady, and he’s won four Super Bowls.

If a QB who starts six games gets paid equal to an All-Pro QB, how much will the All-Pro demand? Well, it depends. Drew Brees would not be wrong nor misguided to demand $25 million or more a year. Brees is 37 years old and consistently putting up stats such as 68% completion percentage, 4,900 yards a season and 32 TD’s:11 INT’s. If he continues this production for three more years, he’s on pace to break the career record for passing touchdowns, currently held by (now retired) Peyton Manning. Coupled with the fact that the last time he had a defense above 25th in the league was 2013, he truly carries the New Orleans Saints and would be absolutely justified in wanting a payday.

The other, far less popular option, is taking a team friendly contract, such as the extension Brady took recently.

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Written by Jacob Snow


Originally published at on March 24, 2016.

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