Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Oct 2003

Guest Column: QB Salaries, Reconsidered

Guest column by Richie Wohlers

Last week, at the Football Project website, Dan Lewis published an article proposing that teams might be better off spending less money on their quarterbacks.  Rather than analyze the statistics for a comprehensive data sample, however, Lewis used a few examples of successful, inexpensive QBs to make his point.  What if you looked at all the quarterbacks in the NFL for 2002?  Would would the numbers say about expensive vs. inexpensive quarterbacks?

I decided to dig deeper, looking at the statistics for all quarterbacks during the the 2002 season in a few different ways. First, amongst all QBs who passed for at least 1000 yards in 2002, which ones gained the most yards per million dollars of salary?  Marc Bulger was the best value, passing for 1,826 yards with a salary cap value of just $320,000.  That worked out to 5,694 yards/$million. The worst bargain will come as no surprise: Kordell Stewart, gaining just 1,155 yards on almost $7 million salary (167 yards/$million). Five QBs passed for over 3,000 yards, while earning less than $2 million per year -- Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Trent Green, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culpepper and Chad Pennington.  Despite 4,200 passing yards, Peyton Manning finishes in 35th place.  It's very tough to justify that $10+ million salary.  Here's the whole list:


Player Team Cap Value Pass Yards Yds/Mil $
1 Bulger, Marc Rams $320,690 1826 5,694.0
2 Peete, Rodney Panthers $476,080 2630 5,524.3
3 Brees, Drew Chargers $710,740 3284 4,620.5
4 Blake, Jeff Ravens $451,350 2084 4,617.3
5 Maddox, Tommy Steelers $627,160 2836 4,522.0
6 Brady, Tom Patriots $1,091,613 3764 3,448.1
7 Green, Trent Chiefs $1,400,000 3690 2,635.7
8 Matthews, Shane Redskins $476,350 1251 2,626.2
9 Brooks, Aaron Saints $1,587,473 3572 2,250.1
10 Culpepper, Daunte Vikings $1,972,500 3853 1,953.4
11 Redman, Chris Ravens $533,240 1034 1,939.1
12 Martin, Jamie Rams $727,023 1216 1,672.6
13 Ramsey, Patrick Redskins $964,000 1539 1,596.5
14 Pennington, Chad Jets $1,964,407 3120 1,588.3
15 Hasselbeck, Matt Seahawks $2,003,960 3075 1,534.5
16 Garcia, Jeff 49ers $2,209,523 3344 1,513.4
17 Miller, Jim Bears $1,300,000 1944 1,495.4
18 Carter, Quincy Cowboys $983,893 1465 1,489.0
19 Lucas, Ray Dolphins $791,666 1045 1,320.0
20 Kitna, Jon Bengals $2,501,260 3178 1,270.6
21 Gannon, Rich Raiders $3,714,285 4689 1,262.4
22 Fiedler, Jay Dolphins $1,716,629 2024 1,179.1
23 Vick, Michael Falcons $2,550,000 2936 1,151.4
24 Griese, Brian Broncos $2,845,040 3214 1,129.7
25 Harrington, Joey Lions $2,300,000 2294 997.4
26 Carr, David Texans $2,600,000 2592 996.9
27 Chandler, Chris Bears $1,169,456 1023 874.8
28 Bledsoe, Drew Bills $5,001,530 4359 871.5
29 McNair, Steve Titans $4,868,196 3387 695.7
30 Dilfer, Trent Seahawks $1,751,800 1182 674.7
31 Favre, Brett Packers $5,957,706 3658 614.0
32 Collins, Kerry Giants $7,383,600 4073 551.6
33 Couch, Tim Browns $6,063,800 2842 468.7
34 Johnson, Brad Buccaneers $6,803,150 3049 448.2
35 Manning, Peyton Colts $10,334,483 4200 406.4
36 McNabb, Donovan Eagles $5,754,938 2289 397.7
37 Warner, Kurt Rams $3,990,000 1431 358.6
38 Plummer, J ake Cardinals $8,679,899 2972 342.4
39 Brunell, Mark Jaguars $8,253,690 2788 337.8
40 Stewart, Kordell Steelers $6,922,880 1155 166.8

Another way to look at these numbers is to compare an entire team's success to the money they spend on all QBs.  The Colts and Eagles are the only teams to spend over $10 million on QBs last season.  Both teams won at least 10 games, but they both finished in the bottom eight of the NFL in wins per million dollars of QB salary.  Philadelphia won 1.2 games per million QB dollars, and Indianapolis won 0.9 games/$million.  Six teams won at least nine games while spending less than $5 million on the QB position -- NWE, NOR, SFO, MIA, ATL, and DEN -- but only two of those made the playoffs. Here's the full list:



Team Total QB Salaries Wins Wins/$Million
1 Ravens $1,275,766 7 5.5
2 Panthers $1,598,790 7 4.4
3 Patriots $2,129,713 9 4.2
4 Saints $2,402,189 9 3.7
5 Cowboys $1,362,493 5 3.7
6 Redskins $1,992,060 7 3.5
7 49ers $3,061,509 10 3.3
8 Dolphins $2,808,295 9 3.2
9 Falcons $3,190,960 9.5 3.0
10 Chiefs $3,356,686 8 2.4
11 Raiders $4,745,135 11 2.3
12 Titans $5,248,236 11 2.1
13 Broncos $4,465,346 9 2.0
14 Vikings $2,990,063 6 2.0
15 Packers $6,668,272 12 1.8
16 Chargers $4,710,372 8 1.7


Team Total QB Salaries Wins Wins/$Million
17 Seahawks $4,179,289 7 1.7
18 Buccaneers $8,009,270 12 1.5
19 Bears $2,953,908 4 1.4
20 Rams $5,288,595 7 1.3
21 Steelers $8,000,040 10.5 1.3
22 Bills $6,278,600 8 1.3
23 Browns $7,127,490 9 1.3
24 Jets $7,384,192 9 1.2
25 Eagles $10,248,140 12 1.2
26 Giants $8,602,239 10 1.2
27 Texans $3,714,180 4 1.1
28 Colts $10,886,283 10 0.9
29 Lions $3,891,580 3 0.8
30 Jaguars $9,034,690 6 0.7
31 Cardinals $9,295,232 5 0.5
32 Bengals $6,285,970 2 0.3

Eight of last year's playoff teams fall in the bottom half of this table. The conclusion here is that, although the wins/$million value is not great, spending money on quarterbacks works, as far as getting your team to the playoffs is concerned. SFO, OAK, ATL, and TEN were the four playoff teams to rank in the top half of wins/$million.  I can't really pick out a common factor as to why they would rank up there.  Perhaps they just aren't paying their quarterbacks what they are worth.

Ffinally, here are the rankings of total offensive yards per team, and how much they spent at QB:


Team Total QB Salaries Yards Yards/$Million
1 Ravens $1,275,766 4639 3636.2
2 Cowboys $1,362,493 4375 3211.0
3 Panthers $1,598,790 4280 2677.0
4 Redskins $1,992,060 5143 2581.7
5 Patriots $2,129,713 5085 2387.6
6 Saints $2,402,189 5205 2166.8
7 Vikings $2,990,063 6192 2070.9
8 Dolphins $2,808,295 5392 1920.0
9 49ers $3,061,509 5701 1862.2
10 Chiefs $3,356,686 6000 1787.5
11 Falcons $3,190,960 5534 1734.3
12 Bears $2,953,908 4395 1487.9
13 Seahawks $4,179,289 5818 1392.1
14 Broncos $4,465,346 6090 1363.8
15 Raiders $4,745,135 6237 1314.4
16 Lions $3,891,580 4471 1148.9


Team Total QB Salaries Yards Yards/$Million

17

$4,710,372 5325 1130.5
18 Rams $5,288,595 5559 1051.1
19 Titans $5,248,236 5272 1004.5
20 Texans $3,714,180 3572 961.7
21 Bills $6,278,600 5591 890.5
22 Packers $6,668,272 5560 833.8
23 Bengals $6,285,970 5206 828.2
24 Steelers $8,000,040 5952 744.0
25 Browns $7,127,490 5027 705.3
26 Jets $7,384,192 5036 682.0
27 Giants $8,602,239 5826 677.3
28 Buccaneers $8,009,270 5002 624.5
29 Eagles $10,248,140 5604 546.8
30 Jaguars $9,034,690 4851 536.9
31 Colts $10,886,283 5616 515.9
32 Cardinals $9,295,232 4563 490.9

Comments?  Make them in our discussion thread, or contact Richie at richiewohlers @ hotmail.com.  If you are interested in writing a guest column, something that takes a new angle on the NFL, please email us your idea at info @ footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: admin on 20 Oct 2003

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