Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford Carry on the Tradition of Grossly Overpaid Quarterbacks
Another year, another slew of ungodly lucrative contracts thrown at quarterbacks who simply have not earned them. I don’t get it anymore. It’s all been downhill since Joe Flacco (who, by the way, just signed an extension with a $40 million signing bonus) signed that mega deal after leading the Baltimore Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. At that point, players like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers were also cashing in.
All of those, in my opinion, at least, were (somewhat) justified. There’s one key feature shared by that group of players—a Super Bowl victory. Even with the hardware, however, I have a hard time saying Flacco is worth his paycheck.
It was a slippery slope from there. Players like Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, and Jay Cutler started to sign even bigger deals—deals that made the Mannings, Rodgers, and Brees look underpaid—and before anyone knew what was happening, $120 million became the going rate for a starting quarterback in the NFL. Super Bowl victory don’t matter. Playoff victories don’t get taken into account. Hell, victories in general just aren’t used as a basis of salary anymore.
Now, the once undesirables are reaping the benefits.
The Washington Redskins have franchise-tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins, guaranteeing him a base salary of nearly $20 million for 2016. That’s right, Kirk Cousins, once backup to Robert Griffin III, who had to fight with RGIII for the starting job, losing it a few times as the team went back and forth, will be making about $20 million this season.
Just let that sink in.
The only 2016 base salary in the NFL that’s higher than Cousins’ is that of Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, who has a staggering $23.5 million on the table. The craziest part is, Suh will most likely be restructuring his contract this offseason, leaving Cousins as the top base earner for 2016.
Cousins must be ecstatic. After winning the dismal NFC East, Kirk will now either get a long-term deal with the Redskins, get a $24 million franchise tag next season, or test the waters in free agency at the end of 2016. Currently, the two sides are trying to work out a long-term deal, but while the Redskins don’t want to offer more than $16 million annually, Cousins and team are holding out for something closer to $20 million. But, of course, just like Kaepernick, Cutler, and company, don’t expect Cousins’ massive deal to translate to considerably improved performance.
Similarly, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford recently put his John Hancock on 2-year contract worth around $36 million with $22 million fully guaranteed, an $11 million signing bonus, a $4 million roster bonus for next season, and at least $2 million in additional money that Bradford would receive for certain playoff accomplishments. At least, the Eagles will save that $2 million.
If you ask me, the craziest part of the contract isn’t even the out-of-proportion millions-to-wins ratio, it’s the guaranteed money. The Eagles are really playing with fire by ponying up $20 million, except the fire, in this case, is Bradford’s glass knee.
Only time will tell what two more blockbuster contracts will do to the current state of quarterback relations in the NFL. Maybe Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the next of the unproven quarterbacks to receive the payday of a lifetime.
A special shout out to the Denver Broncos, however, for denying Brock Osweiler’s initial requests for something close to $16 million a season. Maybe I’m outdated in saying this, but simply starting in the NFL shouldn’t be enough to land you on the Forbes list.