Thanks to numerous rule changes to make the game safer, the National Football League developed an offensive-minded game where defenses rarely have the upper-hand. With high-powered offenses taking over the league, teams are beginning to prioritize average NFL quarterbacks over elite young talents at other positions because they don’t really have a choice.
From 2000 to 2018, 12 quarterbacks were named Super Bowl MVP. Franchises drank the Kool-Aid and now firmly believe if you don’t have one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL, you aren’t going to contend. Then again, a lot of quarterbacks making millions of dollars are committing highway robbery on NFL franchises because most of them actually kind of suck.
The prime example to back this up is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. After an improbable run to win Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens broke the bank and gave Flacco a six-year, $120.6 million contract, then followed that up by giving him a three-year extension worth another $66.4 million in 2016.
Since Flacco signed that first part of his deal in 2013, he went 52-41 as Baltimore’s starting quarterback. Not only is his record less than stellar, he’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in a season since that Super Bowl, and he tossed 80 interceptions across 83 games before being replaced by 31st-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Flacco isn’t the only high-paid quarterback to be an absolutely dud with his franchise invested millions in him either.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr inked a five-year, $125 million deal in 2017 despite having a losing record as a starter through his first three seasons (22-25), but a monster 2016 season still earned him the massive payday. Since then, Carr is 9-19 leading the Raiders.
Just like we’re currently watching with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose three-year, $84 million deal is fully-guaranteed, the return on investment is absolutely unacceptable. Cousins might put up decent numbers in the NFL, but one stat is the most alarming of them all — Cousins is 4-24 against teams with a winning record.
Here are some other quarterbacks whose massive deals make absolutely no sense:
— Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers: $137.5 million, 10 career starts
— Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: $135 million, 65-73 career record
— Eli Manning, New York Giants: $84 million, 116-111 career record
— Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins: $77 million, 42-43 career record
— Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars: $54 million, 74 INTs in 73 games
It’s one thing to pay a player like the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan $150 million for eight-straight 4,000-yard passing seasons. Even the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers $134 million makes total sense for his 103.4 career passer rating. Even 39-year-old Drew Brees is worth $50 million over two seasons for the New Orleans Saints.
These guys, while they’re not the best quarterbacks in NFL history, have at least made their team’s investment worth it:
— Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: $122.97 million
— Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: $103.8 million
— Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: $87.6 million
— Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: $87.4 million
— Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers: $83.25 million
NFL teams are trying to break the bank and nab a rising star in the making, but these absurd deals are crippling their teams in the process, and they’re not getting anything close to their money’s worth.
Franchises can keep making average passers some of the highest paid quarterbacks in NFL history, and fans will just have to grin and bear watching them continue to, well, suck.