How do rookie QB contracts compare to high-paid veterans in the Super Bowl?
MAJOR Seahawks top-10 visit update, WR body types, and SURVIVOR update! 4/6/2023
Among the unanswerable questions, i.e. the meaning of life, what happens when you die, and are we in a simulation, is a query just as frustrating: What’s the best joke from The Simpsons? I’ve always been partial to this one from Springfield lawyer Lionel Hutz, a gag so simple it can be summed up in two pictures:
Lionel Hutz: “Oh, they got this all screwed up!” /writes on the card…
A fact of life as old as society itself and something we can all relate to: reel people in with the prospect of “FREE!” and once they’re in the door, ask for the credit card.
This cautionary tale can be applied just as easily to the allure of a “rookie contract quarterback” with a relatively low cap hit, allowing teams to fit stars at other positions on the team during a premium window of at least four or five years. Joe Burrow, Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes. Seems fool proof?
But as I wrote six weeks ago, there are sudden financial dangers attached to what can be called the NFL’s “newest trap door” for many teams. It’s not that I’m in any way opposed to the Seattle Seahawks falling backwards into the next Jalen Hurts, I just feel like we need to talk about these situations in a way that involves no emotion and is at least attempting to be skeptical.
Hurts has made 34 career starts and there was talk of the Eagles trading for Wilson only a year ago. Just three years after he was the 53rd overall pick, Hurts is in position to sign a contract this offseason that could go above the six-year, $258 million deal signed by Josh Allen in 2021. Burrow and Justin Herbert will by all accounts be along for the ride to start making $45-$50 million per season in the near future.
It’s well and good to draft and pay a good quarterback if that’s what you feel you’re doing, I just want to be clear about one thing: “Works on contingency?” “Free consultation?” “No money down”? Give me a break.
“No, money down!”
I will say, like Wilson from 2012-2015, Hurts has given the Eagles a lot of freedom in the beginning of his career thanks to quality play and low cap hits. He made $1.6 million in 2022 and his next contract should not dramatically lift his $4.8 million cap hit in 2023, at least nowhere near the $45 million mark. That comes in the future.
I just wanted us to run through a revision together and then I won’t say much more about rookie QB contracts, but I will add a ton of interesting Shore Things notes for members of the premium club. It’s not free, but it is the best bargain in the NFL universe.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a rookie pay scale during the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, making Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and the 2011 draft class the first set of players to be “discounts” at their positions. So from 2011-2021, I counted every quarterback drafted in the top-20 (31) because I think that’s the area where teams are really expecting to get a franchise-alterting starter. Then I counted how many of those teams made the playoffs during this alleged five-year window to take advantage of their contracts.
You make the decision for yourselves.
2011-2021, top-20 QB picks: 31
Out of 31 QBs, appeared in playoffs by 5th season: 16
Had multiple postseason trips in first 5 years:
Josh Allen (4x), Patrick Mahomes (4x), Cam Newton (3x), Andrew Luck (3x), Jared Goff (3x), Joe Burrow (2x), Deshaun Watson (2x), Mitchell Trubisky (2x), Marcus Mariota, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones, Justin Herbert, RGIII, Blake Bortles
Reached Super Bowl:
Joe Burrow (2021), Cam Newton (2015), Patrick Mahomes (2019, 2020, 2022), Jared Goff (2018)
*The Eagles won the Super Bowl in Carson Wentz’s second season, but Wentz missed last three games of season and all three playoff games; there’s an argument for his contract savings and a counter-argument that Philadelphia won thir most important games with Nick Foles at the helm.
Championship Game Appearances
Mahomes (2021), Burrow (2022), Allen (2020), Bortles (2017), Luck (2014)
Best players not on this list:
Ryan Tannehill, Carson Wentz, Tua Tagovailoa, Jameis Winston, Sam Darnold, Justin Fields
Blaine Gabbert, Dwayne Haskins, Trey Lance, Jake Locker, E.J. Manuel, Christian Ponder, Josh Rosen, Zach Wilson
One reasonable but off-base response to this is, “You’re leaving out Russ! You’re leaving out Hurts! You’re leaving out Foles!” Well, nobody gets into heated debates about whether the Seahawks should spend a day two pick on a quarterback. We’re talking about the high-risk decisions and whether a team needs to take those early draft shots at quarterback in order to find savings that could help a team fill out a roster and pay others.
Now, we also know there is a lot of risk with paying a quarterback an exorbitant salary with 2022’s extensions for Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford, and Kyler Murray as prime examples. Ultimately what I think we can all agree on is: Good quarterback=Good quarterback. We saw that with who won the Super Bowl…
In fact, eight of the last 10 Super Bowls have pitted a rookie contract QB against a veteran contract QB, with veterans winning seven of the last nine Super Bowls. The caveat being: Tom Brady always came at a rookie discount.
Super Bowl QBs on post-rookie contracts:
2022-Patrick Mahomes ($29m salary) / Jalen Hurts^
2021-Matthew Stafford ($20m base salary*) / Burrow^
2020-Tom Brady ($25m) / Mahomes^
2019-Mahomes^ / Jimmy Garoppolo ($17m)
2018-Brady ($22m) / Goff^
2017-Nick Foles&Wentz^ / Brady ($14m)
2016-Brady ($14m) / Matt Ryan ($24m)
2015-Peyton Manning ($17m) / Cam Newton^
2014-Brady ($15m) / Russell Wilson^
2013-Russell Wilson^ / Manning ($17m)
2012-Joe Flacco^ / Colin Kaepernick^
2011-Eli Manning ($14m) / Brady ($13m)
I covered why Geno Smith should take a discount like Brady back in January and then he kinda went out and did it. The Seahawks may choose to invest in a rookie quarterback this year, but what I will keep reminding folks of—and why I will continue to mock one to Seattle on day two—is that they don’t have to do it with their first pick.
Draft a quarterback early, no? Big savings?
Sorry, they screwed that up…
Draft a quarterback early?! No big savings!
I like to make sure that all of the premium Regular Joes club members are getting their MONEY’S worth by providing as much Seahawks bonus content as possible and that will continue ALL YEAR. No days missed. Join the club to read the following after the jump:
I was wrong about Zay Flowers???
More Seattle pre-draft visits
The most interesting top-10 prospect that the Seahawks have now been linked to
Brandon Cottom on Survivor—why I haven’t updated
The Grape Choice in Kirkland—Go for your next bottle or glass of wine and tell ‘em Seaside Joe sent you!