Joe Flacco

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QB Contracts Continue to Drain Teams' Salary Caps

May 14, 2018 - 5:42 pm

By Tim Barbalace

Death, taxes and quarterbacks draining NFL teams’ salary caps.  Matt Ryan signed a record-high five year 150 million dollar deal with 100 million guaranteed and that contract is expected to be surpassed when Aaron Rodgers signs an extension this offseason.  It is a tough position for teams to be in, but you almost have to pay up because having an established QB will always give teams a chance.

The issue with allocating so much money to one player is that the rest of the depth on the roster takes a hit.  Since 2000, only four times a team has won a Super Bowl when their quarterback has eaten up more than 10 percent of their cap space (Peyton Manning in 2006 and 2015, Eli Manning in 2011 and Tom Brady in 2014) and a team has never won it all when their QB takes up over 13.2 percent of their cap.  In 2018, nine quarterbacks have cap hits exceeding 13.2 percent of the 177.2 million dollar salary cap.

Several teams have been negatively affected since giving big deals to their franchise quarterbacks.  After advancing to the Super Bowl in back to back seasons in 2013 and 2014, the Seahawks have not reached the Conference Championship since paying Russell Wilson and are coming off their first season not making the playoffs in Wilson’s career.  Ben Roethlisberger made three Super Bowl appearances in his first eight years, but hasn’t reached the Big Game since holding cap hits of more than 10 percent of the Steelers’ cap.  

Similar situations have happened with the Chargers, Packers and, of course, the Ravens.  Joe Flacco made the playoffs his first five seasons while under his rookie deal.  Since signing his first big contract after the Super Bowl, Baltimore has missed the playoffs four of five years and their rosters have been weaker.

There is no bigger advantage in football than having a franchise quarterback on their rookie deal.  It gives teams far more flexibility to build around their signal caller.  

Look at the Rams and Eagles.  Both franchises have been extremely aggressive bringing in talented players this offseason.  The main reason that is possible is because Goff and Wentz are the 28th and 29th paid QBs respectively.  

The Ravens have the ability to build around Lamar Jackson if the team chooses to move on from Joe Flacco in 2019.  Jackson will not have a cap hit exceeding 3.1 million during the duration of his four year rookie deal.  Baltimore can only hope that Jackson can have similar success that Flacco had on his first contract.

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