The Curse Of a Salary Cap Eating Quarterback

Background- Paying quarterbacks a hefty amount of money over the last few years of the NFL has been incredibly common. None of the five highest-paid quarterbacks in 2018 by average salary—Rodgers, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo, and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford—made the playoffs. Only Cousins came close. New Orleans’s Drew Brees, Indianapolis’s Andrew Luck, and Seattle’s Russell Wilson each make over $20 million a year. Although what might be a small sample size since 2018, neither of those quarterbacks have appeared in a superbowl since then and Luck and Brees even retired. : The more you give to a quarterback, the less you give to everyone else. It’s pretty simple. This era of salary growth came after changes to the value of rookie contracts. In 2010, no. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford received about $50 million guaranteed. A year later, after the new collective bargaining agreement, no. 1 pick Cam Newton signed for $22 million guaranteed. The two highest-paid players on the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning team last year combined for 11.6 percent of the cap. The only team ever to win the Super Bowl while having its two highest-paid players make more than 21.6 percent of the salary cap is the 49ers in 1994 with Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Overall, paying your defense and offensive players money is more beneficial than paying almost half to a quarterback.

How I Used it– I used this source not only to start my argument first in my definition argument, but also to gain more insight into the cons of having a “salary cap eating qb.” This article overall helped me kick start my whole essay into gear. 

Do Massive Quarterback Contracts Limit Teams in the Long Run?

Despite quarterbacks being so important in the modern game, there has been a thought culminating throughout the NFL that “market-rate contracts” for quarterbacks actively hurt their teams. The idea is that even though a quarterback is valuable, the contract tied to the signal-caller can hold back the team because they, theoretically, run out of money that should be allocated elsewhere. During the last nine years, there have been a good amount of quarterbacks to make the championship game on their rookie deal. Luck, Wilson, Kaepernick, Mahomes, Goff, Wentz, and Bortles all gave their team an advantage at the quarterback position in relation to what other quarterbacks were paid in the NFL. For these teams, that meant that the team could invest more money in the rest of the roster. There have only been a total of 12 instances of a quarterback’s salary cap hit exceeding 15% of the year’s salary cap in the last 10 years. It has been happening more recently, but it still doesn’t happen routinely. In 2023, Mahomes’ salary cap hit is $42.45 million. If we apply the general rule of championship quarterbacks not taking up more than 15% of the team’s cap, then the salary cap in 2023 would have to be at least $283 million for the Chiefs to have little issues.

How I used it- I used this source only a couple times I believe. This source provided good numbers however about the quarterback’s salary cap effects. Also, it highlighted the fact how rookie contracts for quarterbacks can be essential to making a contender.

Who is the Highest Paid Quarterback?

Background– This website simply lists the highest paid quarterbacks in the league. Simple enough at first glance, however 6 of out of the top 10 quarterbacks have never made a superbowl in their career. The list has changed a little bit since I’ve started writing on this topic, however it is still useful to me. 

How I used it– The constant changing of the top 10 highest quarterbacks I feel almost helped me in my argument. The new number 1, Deshaun Watson is set to make 50 million dollars a year fresh off a year he didn’t play a single game. In my arguments I always referred to this source to formulate a stronger argument on the qb’s who haven’t had the greatest success in their career. 

Legion of Boom

Background– This article touches on the dynasty of one of greatest defenses of all time. “The Legion on Boom.” They consisted of all pro corner Richard Sherman, all pro safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, along with a lot of other solid players. Defenses are essential to a team’s success in the long run. They were able to win a superbowl in 2013. With a young Russel Wilson, and a stout defense they destroyed the Denver Broncos. Their unique scheme and defense carried their team to a Superbowl Victory. 

How I used it– I was able to use this source by showing that paying a quarterback a lot of money and relying on him for you to win a superbowl isn’t that way to go. The great Legion of Boom Defense from the Seattle Seahawks was a great example. They won a superbowl with the number one defense in the league with qb on a rookie contract. A great support article for my argument about rookie qb contracts. 

Ideal Cap Hit For SuperBowl Winning Quarterback is Lower Than You Think

Background- This article lists the ideal cap hit for a superbowl winning quarterback. The average cap number for title-winning signal-callers in that time is $9.81 million. In terms of share of the cap spent on a quarterback, 7.47 percent is the sweet spot across the past two decades, with just seven Super Bowl champions using at least 10 percent of their cap on the man under center. In other words teams made due with a reasonable deal for a quarterback and built a great team around him. Even super Bowl runners-up since 2001 have spent an average of 7.17 percent of their cap on the quarterback. So to get to the big game you must spend wisely on your quarterback. 

How I used it– This article made for an ideal salary cap hit for superbowl winning quarterbacks. The average for each superbowl winning qbs over the past two decades was 7.47 percent. Helping me in my definition argument makes an ideal payroll for an NFL roster. This source was most important helping me understand the average salary for a quarterback that wins the superbowl. And as the article says, it’s lower than people think. 


Background– Spotrac simply lists the average salary cap hit for each position in the NFL. I used this information mostly in my definition argument. I based my average cap hit for each position mostly off this sight. I can even look up individual players from superbowl teams to see how much money they made in that season. Finally, it lists every team’s payroll for any season dating back to 2000. 

How I used it– I was able to reference this source by looking at superbowl teams payrolls for certain seasons. Also, seeing the average salary cap hit for each position, also helping me forum my ideal payroll for NFL teams in my definition argument. 

The Art of Positional Spending NFL

Background– It gives analytics and stats about each and every position in the NFL. Based on regular season success, who was the worst with money, and who was the best. It lists every average salary for each position as well. Even superbowl stats were listed with average spending at positions for superbowl winners and losers. 

How I used it– This source Also helped me formulate my definition argument. It mentions average payroll for Superbowl winning teams position players as well. So, I was able to figure which position was most important to least important. 

Browns Release Statement After Deshaun Watson Acquisition

Background– Deshaun Watson, formerly quarterback for the Houston Texans, was traded to Cleveland Browns for a hefty amount of draft picks. Watson is fresh off 21 civil charges of sexual harrsement, in which he was found innocent. The trade for Watson included 3 first round picks. The Browns signed him to a 5 years 230 million dollar contract, all guaranteed money. The Browns owners and general manager then left their statements about their newest quarterback. 

How I used it– This source was used in my rebuttal argument. I was able to use quotes from the owners of the Browns about why they felt this was a great move. I refuted their quotes I chose, and defended my argument as to why paying him was a bad idea and won’t work.

Chiefs Lock up Patrick Mahomes through 2031 with Massive Extension

Background- Fresh off a Superbowl victory, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to lock up their quarterback for 10 years. The contract was half a billion dollars over the 10 years. Once again this signing was backed up by owners and general manager of the Chiefs. There were various quotes on them defending the singing and why they felt it was the right choice moving forward. 

How I used it- Making half a billion dollars over 10 years and signing a deal very early in your career, this source was a prime example of I believe my argument to be right. Using this source in my rebuttal, I used various quotes coming from the Chiefs organization about their singing of the young quarterback. I was able to refute those quotes defending my argument once again.

Aaron Rodgers’ extension with Green Bay Packers includes $150 million over first three years

Background- Aaron Rodgers’ newly signed three year 150 million dollar contract now makes him the highest paid quarterback in the league. The reigning two-time league MVP will make $41.95 million this season, which is fully guaranteed. Rodgers had an uncertain future with the team, and most thought he was not going to be returning to the team. However, getting this amount of money he could not resist and ultimately returned to the team. Once again quotes from the Packers organization were used in this article to defend their new contract with the quarterback. 

How I used it- Another good source for my rebuttal argument, Rodgers status with the team for the future was unknown. There were even reports saying that he would never play for the Packers again after this year. Rodgers looked like the Ultimate diva. I was able to use this information along with the quotes from the team to strengthen my rebuttal argument. 

Christian McCaffrey is the poster child for why NFL teams shouldn’t pay running backs

Background– The running back position is seeing a dip from what it normally was back in the day. Running backs nowadays have seen an increase in injuries like never before. A big name like Christain McCaffery is a prime example on why NFL teams should not pay running backs. McCaffery came into the league hot, posting great numbers, received a big contract, and proceeded to play 10 games in the last 2 seasons. He can’t stay healthy. Other running backs have also seen injuries already plague their career. Names such as Ezekiel Elliot, and Saquon Barkley highlight the list. 

How I used it- I used this source in my definition argument, when forming my ideal payroll. I wanted to highlight the fact that the running back position is a position a team should never pay. I agreed with this article 100 percent. The position is too injury filled, and I was able to back up my argument with this source.

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