This is the NFL in 2014. In order to win, having a really good quarterback is a virtual necessity. And recent results indicate that a league with 32 teams has fewer than 32 really good quarterbacks. Thus, you'd be certifiably insane to even flirt with the idea of letting a franchise-caliber pivot leave town.
Now we're left with a situation in which seven young starting quarterbacks, each with two years left on their respective rookie deals, will jockey for extensions between now and 2016. Those signal-callers:
|Quarterbacks with two years left on their rookie deals|
|Sam Bradford||Rams||Making $13M/year|
|Cam Newton||Panthers||2015 option exercised|
|Robert Griffin III||Redskins||2016 team option|
|Andrew Luck||Colts||2016 team option|
|Ryan Tannehill||Dolphins||2016 team option|
|Nick Foles||Eagles||No 2016 option|
|Russell Wilson||Seahawks||No 2016 option|
Bradford signed the last monster rookie deal before the new collective bargaining agreement reeled in contracts for first-round picks, so he's making big-time cash. And considering that he's yet to fully establish himself as a franchise quarterback, it's probably fair to assume that he'll have to wait at least a year, and probably more, before landing a new contract.
Newton entered the league a year later than Bradford and a year earlier than Luck, Griffin, Tannehill, Foles and Wilson, but the team has already picked up his fifth-year option, and ESPN.com's David Newton reports that "a new deal is not imminent" for the 2011 No. 1 overall selection.
Griffin, Luck and Tannehill were all first-round picks in 2012, and so their respective teams have options for a fifth year. Because Foles and Wilson weren't first-rounders, that rule doesn't apply to them.
As a result, if we're thinking in terms of urgency, Foles, Wilson and Newton are probably the next three star quarterbacks in line for new deals.
Of course, Foles will tell you that he isn't thinking about his next deal. When asked Tuesday about Dalton's nine-figure extension, here was the cliche-riddled, boilerplate answer he gave CSN Philly's Geoff Mosher:
"...I'm really happy for Andy, I think he's a great quarterback and well-deserved. But I don't worry about it. When I’m on the field, that doesn't matter. My job is to do what I can to help us be a successful football team, so at the end of the day we'll see what happens."
But the deals given to Kaepernick and Dalton, neither of whom were first-round picks and both of whom were entering contract years, have laid the groundwork for what the Eagles and Seahawks might want to do with their 25-year-old Pro Bowl pivots.
Both of those guys signed "pay as you go" deals, giving the team the ability to bail beyond the first year or two, but both Foles and Wilson could be in for much more guaranteed and annual cash when they become eligible to renegotiate their deals next offseason.
That's because Foles has already put together a better single season than any of his young peers by leading the league in 2013 in passer rating, yards per attempt and touchdown-to-interception ratio, while Wilson has posted two triple-digit passer ratings and is a Super Bowl champion.
So it really is a toss-up between those two, with Newton also factoring in. But we're thinking Foles could have a solid shot at being the next guy in line simply because Philadelphia's front office has been so enthusiastic about retaining its homegrown talent without leaving any doubts.
General manager Howie Roseman told Bleacher Report earlier this offseason that a potential extension for the Arizona product "is part of our thought process," which isn't surprising when you consider that almost every key player on the roster is currently signed through 2015.
|Eagles: Recent contract extensions|
|Player||Extension||Under contract through|
"When you talk about the quarterback," Roseman told us in June, "that's a big part of your football team. I'd be disingenuous to say that we're not thinking about it."
The Eagles currently possess more cap space than all but three other teams, according to OvertheCap.com. Carolina, on the other hand, was tight for cash this offseason. And the Seahawks will also have Cliff Avril, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Okung, Brandon Mebane, Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner to take care of in the next two years.
|Current salary cap space|
So when the next batch of young quarterbacks starts getting new deals next spring, don't be surprised if Foles leads the charge.
Brad Gagnon has covered the NFC East for Bleacher Report since 2012.