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25 Sep 2009
by J.I. Halsell
Over the course of the season "Under the Cap" will present a series analyzing the top ten starter contracts at each position. The metrics used to value these contracts are the same metrics that those who are familiar with "Under the Cap" are used to seeing: Total Guarantee, Average per Year and 3-Year Total, amongst others. To kickoff the series we'll start with the most lucrative position in the sport, quarterback.
As I look at the results of the contract analysis below, there are a few items that pop out at me. The fact that Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer remains the second highest paid quarterback on an Average per Year basis on a contract that is nearly four years old is most certainly striking, given that the market has certainly grown since 2005. The Palmer contract was signed nearly eight months after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady received a contract for $12.125 million per year. Despite not reaching the same level of team success under the leadership of Palmer, the Bengals valued Palmer $4 million more than Brady on a per year basis.
The quarterback class of 2004 (New York's Eli Manning, San Diego's Philip Rivers, and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger) account for three of the top four contracts at the position. This young group of quarterbacks have set the bar for elite quarterback contracts going forward. As a result of the contracts signed by this group and the contract signed by No. 1 overall pick, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, the next elite quarterback contracts signed will push total guaranteed money well in excess of $40 million and guaranteed money per year in excess of $7 million per year, not to mention Average per Year in the neighborhood of $17 million per year.
A glaring omission from this list is prolific Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who like Brady and Peyton Manning could be in line for a new contract in the near future. Brees's current contract ranks him 17th in Average per Year, a definite value for the Saints given his remarkable productivity. Since 2004, Brees has ranked in the top eight in DYAR, including his No. 1 ranking last year. Given this productivity, if Brees can lead his Saints to a run in the playoffs, then he has a strong argument for receiving a contract that makes him one of the highest paid players at his position.
The table above ranks quarterbacks based on the Average per Year metric; if one were to rank quarterbacks based upon Total Guarantee, then the top five would be Stafford ($41.7 million), Rivers ($38.15 million), Eli Manning ($35 million), Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan ($34.75 million), and Peyton Manning ($34.5 million).
Here are the top ten quarterback contracts in the league:
|Top Ten Starting Quarterback Contracts (in millions of dollars)|
Next week, we'll analyze the top ten starter contracts at running back.
Follow J.I. Halsell on Twitter: @SalaryCap101
23 comments, Last at 26 Sep 2009, 2:08am by Dice