NFL: Analyzing Contracts Among Elite Quarterbacks
Over the past few NFL seasons, solid quarterback play was a consistent quality that almost every playoff team possessed. If a team won the Super Bowl, its quarterback played at an elite level.
In today’s NFL, elite quarterbacks are receiving elite contracts. These contracts offer absurd amounts of guaranteed money. It has gotten to the point where some teams’ hands seem financially tied because they are paying their quarterback more than $20 million per season. That scenario does not seem to be favorable regarding an NFL team’s ultimate goal, which is hopefully building a Super Bowl contender.
Despite that, some contracts are worth the initial financial issues. It all depends on how a team is built and how good the quarterback of that particular team is. If that quarterback gives a team the best chance to win a Super Bowl, that team should invest their money and cap room accordingly.
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In 2012, Peyton Manning was paid a whopping $18 million, according to ESPN. He was worth every penny. The Denver Broncos went from being a circus that happened to make the postseason in 2011 to a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2012.
What was the difference between the 2011 Broncos and the 2012 Broncos? It was mostly the addition of Peyton Manning. Manning brought a consistent and winning culture that was previously absent from Denver. The Broncos were a young and talented team, but Peyton Manning was the missing link.
Now, is Peyton Manning worth all of the money Denver paid him? Some will say yes and some will say no, but no one can argue against Manning’s impact. The Broncos paid him to put them in a position to contend for Super Bowls. They’re getting a solid return for their investment.
Whatever is argued for Peyton Manning, the same can be said for Tom Brady.
Brady and the New England Patriots are a model of consistency. Year in and year out, they are in a position to contend for a Super Bowl. Brady, with his spectacular play and leadership, is a big reason for that. He deserves to be paid among the top quarterbacks at around $20 million per season, which is where he was in the past.
This season, Brady will make a lot less money after he decided to restructure his current contract. He is scheduled to make $27 million over the next three seasons, far less than a quarterback of his level deserves.
Despite that, Brady always provides a good return for the Patriots, especially now. If Tom Brady were the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL next season, nobody would dispute it.
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After all he did regarding the revival of New Orleans and winning Super Bowl XLIV, he deserved a mega-deal. No player means more to the city and the New Orleans Saints than Drew Brees. His contract was appropriate almost solely because of his previous accomplishments, which included breaking the regular-season passing-yardage record.
However, Drew Brees is getting paid this huge contract to play at an elite level for the next four years, not for what he already did. In 2012, he had one of his worst seasons with a 63 percent completion rate and 19 interceptions. Those numbers are not bad, but they do not warrant the contract the Saints gave him last summer. He will have to improve during his 2013 campaign to justify his huge deal.
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The Super Bowl XLVII MVP recently signed a six-year, $120.6 million contract that currently makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player. Flacco’s contract is the biggest gamble of any elite quarterback’s because of the resulting roster turnover. Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin and Paul Kruger will not return to Baltimore in 2013. Flacco will have to prove he can handle major and immediate roster turnover, and there is room for skepticism.
Despite all of that, Joe Flacco wins games. The rest of the team playing well helped, but Flacco is the common denominator in every victory for the Baltimore Ravens. If the Ravens continue to win and compete for Super Bowls, his contract may be justified despite his average statistics. Wins ultimately make more money than impressive stat sheets.
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Aaron Rodgers does not have a huge contract—not yet at least. Whatever he gets he deserves. Rodgers put up five impressive statistical seasons in Green Bay that also featured a 55-27 record, a regular-season MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. As of today, Rodgers is also the all-time career leader in passer rating at 104.9.
Very few current players have a resume as impressive as Aaron Rodgers. The only two players that come to mind are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. However, the difference between Aaron Rodgers and the other two is time. Rodgers is 29 years old. Therefore, it is not out of the question that he can help the Green Bay Packers contend for a Super Bowl in the next five to 10 seasons.
Rodgers and the Packers are reportedly closing in on an agreement. When that deal occurs, Rodgers will possibly be the NFL’s highest-paid player. He will deserve every penny of that deal because he has the track record, and the window of opportunity for him and the Packers is still wide open.