If I could use one word to describe NFL contracts: outrageous. These contracts will only continue to grow as time goes on.
It does not matter whether a quarterback won a Super Bowl, a playoff game or if they’ve had success in the regular season. Quarterbacks seem to be demanding more money than ever, and they end up getting what they want.
Most recently, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hit the jackpot Monday morning in a six-year deal worth $96 million with a possibility to earn $115 million if the Bengals win playoff games. Is Dalton worth $115 million? I will break it down for you.
Let’s get one thing straight; Dalton has been impressive for the Bengals since being drafted out of TCU in 2011. In three years, he’s thrown for 80 touchdowns and 49 interceptions with more than 11,000 passing yards under his belt. Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs each season.
Throughout all of my time covering the Chiefs and the NFL with podcasting, blogging and traditional media since 2007, I learned there is one important factor you must consider when judging a football player. How does that player do in the biggest games, or more importantly, in the postseason? Can they consistently do well in big moments?
Dalton is 0-3 in the postseason as he’s thrown one touchdown, six interceptions and has been sacked nine times in all three games combined.
As a fan and someone who has covered football, I believe a player must earn a big contract by proving he can shine in the biggest games. Dalton has yet to do that. That is not to say he can’t ever do it, but at this moment, many fans are left scratching their heads over this.
Colin Kaepernick signed a six-year contract earlier this summer in which he can earn up to $126 million with at least $61 million in guaranteed money.
One month after helping the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl in 2013, Joe Flacco scored big. He signed a six-year contract in which he can earn $120.60 million, including a $29 million bonus plus $30 million guaranteed. In the four postseason games the Ravens played throughout the 2013 playoffs, Flacco committed just one turnover, a fumble.
Sure, to go through a four-game postseason and commit only one turnover is imposing. But is that enough to throw a ton of money at a player? That is how it seems to be. Flacco’s contract was the biggest in NFL history until a month later.
It did not take long for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to steal that record after he landed a $110 million contract over the next five years.
Rodgers was not labeled as a greedy guy, because he proved he deserves a big contract. He had a 5-3 postseason record (now 5-4) including a Super Bowl win.
The fact is, NFL players, mostly quarterbacks, are expensive and their price seems to go up each year, even if they don’t stand out in big games.
I want to post a couple of contracts your way and explore possible outcomes in the future.
1. Ryan Tannehill has a 15-17 record as a starter for the Miami Dolphins while making $12.67 million throughout four years from his rookie contract, which he is halfway through.
2. Matt Cassel had one good season filling in for Tom Brady in New England. The Kansas City Chiefs trade a second-round pick for him. A few months before training camp, Cassel signs a six-year $63 million deal, but only got through four years with the Chiefs. He finished with a 19-28 record as a starter in Kansas City.
3. The Detroit Lions gave Matthew Stafford more money last year after extending him for three more years, adding $53 million. He is under contract through the 2017 season and will receive $41.5 million in guaranteed money. Stafford is 24-37 as a starter and has played in only one postseason game.
- Ryan Tannehill – $12.67 in 4 years
- Matt Cassel – $63 million in 6 years
- Matthew Stafford – $53 million in 3 years
Let’s fast forward to 10 years later, in 2024. How much money could a player similar to the caliber of Tannehill make? Same question for Cassel and Stafford.
General managers need to be more aggressive when considering how much money they want to pay a quarterback (or any player) for a long period of time. If the quarterback can’t live up to expectations, the team’s success will be limited, and all the blame goes on the general manager for giving millions of dollars to a quarterback for underperforming.
Every athlete who makes millions of dollars is capable of feeding their wife and kids, but also people outside of their immediate family. Many players simply demand a lot of money so they can take care of their own family members. Many people criticize players for wanting a lot of money for that reason.
However, anyone in their position would do the same thing. But making money in the nine figures through six years or less is too much and that’s honestly not necessary to take care of your family and members through an extended family.
I don’t know what the solution is to stopping players from earning a ridiculous amount, but there are people more qualified than me who can come up with one. What I do know is, the price of a quarterback will only grow each year. A college football freshman with a promising future has to feel good about the amount of money he could make one day.