The nature of the National Football League is a cruel, merciless sport in which players can be swapped from one team to another or outright released at any given time.
Job security is never what it seems; a six-year deal can in all actuality be a one- or two-year contract allowing the organization an easy out at any time should they so choose. Just look at the contracts Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick signed. Both seemingly agreed to $100-plus million deals but can be released after just one to two seasons at little cap penalty.
That’s the way it works in this league, though. A contract is worth only what the guaranteed money entails, and sometimes not even. Quarterback is by far the most important position on the field, and often a team will only go as far as its quarterback.
That’s why teams will shell out big money for the best in the business, and a failed first-round draft pick may only get a year or two to prove his worth before he’s gone. The new collective bargaining agreement doesn’t overpay young quarterbacks as used to be the case (see Sam Bradford), so a team like the Cleveland Browns isn’t set back for years because of a failed first-rounder like Brandon Weeden.
Veteran quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are all considered old by NFL standards, but they’re playing at such a high level that they will continue to reign supreme as long as they’re productive. Meanwhile, up-and-coming stars like Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck will soon receive contract extensions, which will lock them up for the long term with their current franchise.
This list looks at how comfortable a quarterback should be with his long-term job status. Obviously a player like Brees won’t still be the starter in 10 years because of his age (35), but how confident should New Orleans Saints fans be that he will be around in three seasons? A three-year window is a fair marker of long-term security.
Rankings are based on a quarterback’s talent level, his salary, age, injury history and any potential backups who may threaten his future status as the team’s starter. Is there a backup on the team threatening the starter's job or is the backup a washed-up veteran clinging onto his NFL career? All will be strongly considered when evaluating the quarterbacks.
The first players on the list are quarterbacks who probably won’t even make it through 2014 as starters, while the ones ranked in the top five can confidently assume they’ll still be starting three seasons from now.
*Contract figures are per Spotrac.com.