Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Feb 2018

49ers Make Garoppolo Highest-Paid Player

The 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo have agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million contract, source says. The biggest deal in NFL history on a average-per-year basis, until Kirk Cousins signs his next contract. In case you were wondering why Handsome Jimmy G. did not want to stay in New England as Tom Brady's backup for the $17-$18 million they allegedly offered him in a contract extension, this is why.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 08 Feb 2018

161 comments, Last at 23 Feb 2018, 10:19pm by The Ninjalectual


by Cythammer :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 2:57pm

I think the Patriots should have held on to Garoppolo, cut loose Brady after the end of this most recent season, and go forward with Garoppolo as their QB of the future. At soon to be age 41, it's all downhill for Brady from here, which means Garoppolo is almost certainly the better option over the next three plus years. Moving on from the MVP might've seemed crazy, but when you're talking about a guy in his 40s, that's probably the exact right time to do so.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:11pm

Would have been tough to cut Brady after 2017. His dead cap hit would be something like $16 million. Cutting him after 2018 would have been much more manageable and I think that's what BB was trying to get done, but JG (rightly!) wasn't interested and then Kraft countermanded any such attempts anyways.

NE only has itself to blame. Brady's contract originally ended in 2017, same as JG's. But then a year or two ago they extended Brady to 2020 and put themselves in that mess.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:38pm

The last extension the Pats gave Brady meant that he only got paid a big bonus but only $1 million for the 2016 season. Which in turn meant he only lost about $236,000 for that four game suspension.

So you can put that down as another consequence of Deflategate;

by PatsFan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 5:01pm

The tentacles of Jimmy's nefarious plan continue to astound...

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:09pm

What about trading Brady? Optics-wise, would it have been any worse for the Patriots than just cutting him (I guess you could argue that cutting him gives him the option to sign wherever he wants); either way, they are proactively walking away from the greatest QB in franchise history. I don't know how much teams would have been willing to give up for age 40 Brady, but someone would give something.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:56pm

Some teams asked Belichick about trading Brady and he laughed at them.

The best way to understand what's going on in Foxboro is to first view the entire Wickersham story to be about as well-founded as yesterday's Ron Borges story about how Brady was going to hold out for more money. There are a lot of sportswriters in Boston and a lot of them are hacks.

Belichick, in turning down inquiries about whether Brady was available along the lines of "You think I'm going to trade the greatest QB of all time?"

The Patriots wanted Jimmy around in case Brady got injured and/or decided to retire. There was no plan to kick him out when he was playing as well as he did in 2017.

by bravehoptoad :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 9:32am

Belichick, in turning down inquiries about whether Brady was available along the lines of "You think I'm going to trade the greatest QB of all time?"

It's been done before, with good results.

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:26pm

Montana was traded after he lost the starting job.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 6:10pm

Not correct. He didn't start in 1992 because of injury, but at the start of 1993 it was not clear at all who the starter would be.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:52pm

"NE only has itself to blame.""

...for extending the contract of the current MVP for less money than Jimmy G just signed for.

This thread gets weirder and weirder.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:53am

Easy to say that now. The question is which one of them will be better in the stretch from 2020-2030

by anotherpatsfan :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 4:46am

If he keeps drinking all that water, I'll take Brady at age 52...

I imagine you are being sarcastic too, because that doesn't qualify as an actual non-rhetorical question.

The questions IMO is (1) who is better next year (and maybe the year after), and (2) can the Pats draft a Brady heir who can play in the JimmyG range from 2020-2030. Hard to know the answers to those questions now.

by amin purshottam :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:52pm

“Downhill” really?? That’s what people said last year. If downhill means torching a great defense like the Eagles for 500 yards, then I am good with downhill for a few more years.

by Cythammer :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:34pm

Of course it's all downhill for a guy who's 40 years old. It's essentially impossible, aging being what it is, for it to be otherwise. The only question is how steep the drop off will be. The thing is, it will be COMPLETELY unprecedented if Brady continues to play at a very high level for much longer. If you're betting on something completely unprecedented happening... Well, you probably aren't going to win that bet.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:11pm

Exactly. The fact that Brady has defied expectations for so long is not reason to believe that he will continue to do so; if anything, it's a reason to believe the opposite.

Now if you want to argue that the Patriots still made the right move in hindsight, sure. They did get to another Super Bowl, and they did not lose it because of Brady. But that's a different discussion than arguing that Brady isn't due for a steep decline very soon.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:58pm

"Of course it's all downhill for a guy who's 40 years old. "

Probably the same thing could have been said after 2016, when he was 39. Of course it's all downhill from here! And then he won the MVP.

Just as "data" isn't the plural of "anecdote", "individual path" isn't the singular of "data". You cannot expect Brady to follow the average path at this point. He's already proven himself to be an outlier.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:58am

Then I'm sure he'll be an outlier forever then! Yayyy!

I know I'm straw-manning a little bit here, but we've already seen straw-Manning and we'll see straw-Brady eventually too.

by Joshua Northey :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 2:49pm

There is a difference between "It will all be down hill from here". And "It will *likely* all be down hill from here". I don't think Rick is being a frequentist, just pointing out your certainty about the immediacy and noiselessness of his decline is misplaced.

A Bayesian is only as good as his data/assumptions.

by MJK :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 2:45am

You must be a frequentist. You have a bunch of data points that say, so far, Brady's age has not affected his skill, so you're suggesting that his age will continue to not affect his skill.

I think most of the rest of us here are taking a more Bayesian approach--we know that all QB's fall off a cliff at some age in their late 30's or, best case, their early 40's. We have some data that Brady's cliff will be later than that of many others, so we can update our expectation with the knowledge that Brady's skill is long lived, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't expect that it won't fall off the cliff at any time now. And it will probably happen in the next year or two.


by theslothook :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 3:43am

Conditional probability is not exclusive to Bayesians.

One doesn't have to be a Bayesian to view Brady's age related decline.

by TomC :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 12:40am

I cannot tell you how long I have waited for the opportunity to beg the site administrators for a separate Irrational Bayesian vs. Frequentist thread. The fact that it came when I was at the South Pole tending to "my" 10-meter telescope makes it even sweeter. Thanks guys!

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:29pm

"You must be a frequentist. You have a bunch of data points that say, so far, Brady's age has not affected his skill, so you're suggesting that his age will continue to not affect his skill."

No I'm not!

That's an absurd spin on what I said. Intellectually dishonest, even.

And no Bayesian would interpret my statement that way.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:50pm

"I think the Patriots should have cut the MVP."

Yes, I come to FO for hot takes like this.

by ncuba :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 9:51am

Well Jimmy's DVOA (on the niners!) was 10% higher than Brady's.

Good FO take might be that Bill should have sat Brady for Jimmy this season.

Brady's MVP season was pretty ho-hum as they go. Jimmy's resulting MVP would have been less of a reach.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 10:21pm

Eagles won the Super Bowl after sitting the MVP.

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:30pm

Eagles didn't have the MVP.

This stuff is just trolling at this point, right?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:00pm

Besides, who wants to be Malcolm Butlered?

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:59pm

Benched for not playing well? There's a way to avoid that.

by bravehoptoad :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 9:34am

That's why he was benched? He was playing worse than Eric Rowe and Johson Bademosi? Man, that's kind of hard to believe.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:37am

Exactly. He was good enough to play 97% of defensive snaps leading up to the Super Bowl, then suddenly so bad he couldn't play a single snap when his replacements were really bad? That isn't remotely plausible.

If it really was a football decision, the most charitable interpretation is that Belichick made an honest judgment call about Rowe and Bademosi vs. Butler and he was wrong. It's amazing how many Patriots fans can't acknowledge the possibility that the greatest coach of all time made a mistake.

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:45pm

"That isn't remotely plausible".

It's not remotely plausible that he was benched in favor of Eric Rowe? That's a very silly take. Belichick's defining trait is he benches players when hethinks they deserve to be benched, he cuts people when he thinks they deserve to be cut, and he trades people when he thinks they deserve to be traded.

Butler was a bad matchup for the Eagles. Not big enough to cover Jeffery, and not fast enough to cover Agholor. The fact that he'd played 97% of the regular season snaps isn't relevant.

I do love all the non-Pats fans lecturing Pats' fans about how well Butler was playing.

" It's amazing how many Patriots fans can't acknowledge the possibility that the greatest coach of all time made a mistake."

Clearly you don't spend much time at Pats' Pulpit.

The overwhelming majority opinion among Pats' fans is that Belichick "made a mistake". I trust Belichick to know better whether Butler or Rowe deserved to be the starting CB. And, first two drives notwithstanding, Rowe actually had a decent day.

Bademosi over Butler is harder to defend, but again, it's a judgment call. I also suspect Butler had some kind of emotional breakdown after he lost the starting job, and this led to the decision to not only not start him at outside CB, but also to not use him as nickel or dime CB.

The alternative theory is, what, Belichick benched the guy "to be a dick"? No, that's not how he works.

When Belichick says he was benched "for football reasons" and Butler says that his coach "lost trust in him", it sounds like it was a football decision.

Now whether it was the correct football decision or not in retrospect? That's how decisions work. Bademosi had a bad missed tackle that made people wish for Butler. But Butler had bad games vs. Tennessee and Jacksonville, and it's far from a guarantee that he was going to play as well as he had in prior years. The sad fact is that Butler did not play as well in 2017 as he had in the prior two seasons. He was definitely affected by the Gilmore contract and Rowe was challenging him for playing time.

Was this a "mistake"? Perhaps in the alternate reality Butler was repeatedly burned by Agholor, Jeffery, and Torrey Smith (another fast WR).

The focus on Butler distracts from the flaws that were all over the place in the defense that day. The run D was terrible and the short passing D was terrible. The deep passing defense really wasn't the problem. Yes, there was the one TD to Jeffery, but I don't think Butler would have been able to give better D on that play than Rowe did. That was a perfectly placed pass to a very big WR. The wheel route to Clement was just as damaging, if not worse. It put the Eagles in position to get a TD before halftime. That was on the short passing D - Jordan Richards plays safety, and not very well.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:13pm

NOW we know who was really behind Deflategate!

Well played, Jimmy. Well played indeed.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:27pm

Does anyone think the Pats would have paid JG anywhere near that much? I am sure his agent didn’t think so. We’ll see how it works out.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:51pm

I don't think they'd have paid him that much even if Brady had retired. They just don't invest that much money in any one position.

by ssereb :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 11:09pm

They don't invest that much in any one position because the only position you invest that much in is quarterback, and they currently have an excellent player taking team-friendly deals manning that position. Unless Brady never retires, they'll be in the same boat as everyone else eventually.

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:47pm

Could be. When Brady and Belichick retire, everything about the current era will be over. And my guess is at most two more years there.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:27pm

I'll be interested to see what the guarantee is. I like my prediction that Foles could get himself at least 50 million guaranteed, if he wanted to make that a priority. I also stand by my assertion that Luck's failure to force himself out of the Colts organization in 2016 could end up costing him more than 200 million dollars. I really wish more guys would take the Revis/Cousins approach to managing their careers.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:32pm

I saw one report that it was $74mil guaranteed.

by PatsFan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:49pm

Schefter is reporting "three-year cash total of $90 million".

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:00pm

Yeah, Foles can get himself 60 million pretty much guaranteed, if getting the cash is a priority. I just can't imagine taking those physical risks, without making getting the cash the highest priority.

by Richie :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 2:10pm

I have nothing against any player trying to get as much money as he can.

But on the other side, I don't think there's anything wrong with a player staying in a place he's comfortable. Luck has earned $79M and is under contract for another $80M. Does anybody really need more than $79M?

Personally, I have passed up better job opportunities because I wasn't interested in having to commute 90 minutes each way to go to the job.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:03pm

People should live their lives as they wish. I just wish more people had greater vision than "If I had another 60 million, I'd buy more houses and cars".

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 8:46am

Well, it's not nearly enough for a decent personal space programme, let alone a secret volcano base to operate it out of...

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 9:17am

The decorative pool filled with man-eating piranhas is also surprisingly expensive to build and maintain.

by MJK :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 6:24pm

That’s why you go with sea bass. They’re much cheaper.



They are *mutated* sea bass.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 6:43pm

You should probably go back to calling them Patagonian Toothfish

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 2:57pm

Mutated, yes, but regrettably ill-tempered.

by Bryan Knowles :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:35pm

We don't know all the details yet, but rumors have his guaranteed share at $74 million, which would be the third-highest (behind Stafford and Luck).

I mean... if you're going to give this deal to someone with 272 career pass attempts, it's probably the right guy, but man, that's betting a lot on a small sample size. That's what it is -- a total bet. If he continues playing like he did at the end of last season, it's only a minor overpay at the moment (and probably won't be considered as such when the Cousins deal/Rodgers extension happens and when we get the new salary cap figures). But hoah boy.

It's almost like a pre-2011 #1 pick -- a huge deal given to a player with all the potential in the world, and you just cross your figures it's a Peyton Manning and not a JaMarcus Russell. With 272 pass attempts, we know more about Garoppolo's true ability than a rookie, but phew, that's still so little to go on.

by Yu Narukami :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:37pm

272 attempts plus half of a season having worked with him on practices, film room, press conferences, etc..

They know him way more than a random college talent.

by Bryan Knowles :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:55pm

Yeah, it's not a perfect analogy -- and 272 is infinity times more information than 0.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 12:15pm

And they're paying him way more than a random college talent, too. Top of the draft is around $7M/year. This is 27.5M/year. The draft pick's contract is usually pretty much fully guaranteed, so it's not a totally fair comparison, but the 3-year money here is ~$90M, so it might not be that different.

This is still a much bigger risk than drafting a QB, and for less reward.

by jtr :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:35pm

Bryan was talking about the pre-2011 draft, when rookies could negotiate their salary rather than simply get put in a slot based on draft position. Matt Stafford's rookie deal was 6yr/$72M with $42M guaranteed, which at the time was the all-time record for guaranteed money in an NFL contract. It was an entirely different ballgame, which carried a huge amount of risk.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:46pm

Sorry, my post wasn't very clear: I was trying to point out the fact that they're taking a big risk (for not a ton of reward) that they really don't have to make anymore. Before 2011, you *had* to take those risks to get a franchise QB. Nowadays... you don't. There wasn't a "cheap draft" option.

So it's not a great comparison because before 2011, you *didn't have* a cheaper option than drafting a QB at the top of the draft (other than drafting low and praying, I guess). So taking that risk is just the game you have to play.

Nowadays, taking a risk like that is a much bigger gamble, because you're choosing to not go after the cheaper option of a draft QB.

by Richie :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 2:25pm

Yeah, it was pretty easy for Cleveland to find their franchise QB.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 2:28pm

Cleveland had plenty of options to find their franchise QB. They just didn't take them, because they're bad at talent evaluation. That doesn't mean they should go after a free agent QB - it means they should get better at talent evaluation.

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:48pm

It helps if you take off the blindfold.

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:57pm

For not a ton of reward? Hasn't Garoppolo been one of the best passers in the league on one of its worst teams, even considering only 7 games of experience? What's his upside? "Not a ton"?

What's the success rate on QBs taken in the first half of the first round? 50-50 that they become better than average? On the other hand, how would you rate Garoppolo's chances at being better than average?

Gambling on a QB isn't just about dollars, it's also about opportunity cost. (Darn it, there goes my dream of writing an entire post in nothing but questions.) How long does it take to evaluate a QB?

A way to think of what the 49ers are paying for is this: if you could evaluate all the QBs in the 2018 incoming draft class for six months in the NFL, how much would the good ones be worth on the open market? You're not taking out all the risk, of course, but you're taking out a LOT of it. There's no chance you end up with a Ponder or a Gabbert or a Bortles or a Manziel. What's that worth? Apparently about $27.5m per year.

I'll take it. Really good QBs are always underpaid.

by Pat :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 4:36pm

"Gambling on a QB isn't just about dollars,"

It also isn't *just* about ability, either. The cost difference between a top of the draft QB and Garoppolo's contract is pretty big. I mean, for comparison, Philly had something like $10-15M extra relative to New England just based on how much was paid to the quarterbacks. Dallas has like a $20M advantage relative to other teams. That's big (and honestly, makes their failure in 2017 more glaring).

It's not exactly an easy question - it's not that far off from the idea that you'd be better off tanking completely rather than be middling-to-average. If your goal is to be one of the best teams in the league, I'm not sure the right tactic isn't to just churn through draft QBs until you find one.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 1:32am

How often does a team draft more than one QB? Washington did in 2012, the Broncos did in the mid-2000s with two 7th round picks (Matt Mauck and Bradlee Van Pelt). Both were Shanahan teams, both worked out for the team.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:36am

How long are you giving each draft QB to evaluate them? If they're high first rounders, then 2-3 years? 1-2 years? If you're lucky, you hit on the first one, hallelujah. If it takes you 4 or 5 tries, you're talking about 10 years of "churning" before you get a good QB, all for what? To have a 4-5 year window on a rookie contract?

Sounds like what the Cleveland Browns have been trying.

I guess what's at the root of your assumptions are that you can't build for sustained success in the NFL, that what you can hope to do is get lucky in the QB lottery and be good for a few years, then have to pay your QB and fall back to mediocrity. But that just doesn't seem to be the way the league works. Some teams are good because of cheap QBs, but that's not why most good teams are good.

by Pat :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 1:39pm

"If it takes you 4 or 5 tries, you're talking about 10 years of "churning" before you get a good QB, all for what? To have a 4-5 year window on a rookie contract?"


"Sounds like what the Cleveland Browns have been trying."

Yeah, um, no. It's like, the *opposite* of what the Browns have been trying. The Browns haven't drafted a quarterback with their first pick since 1999.

"Some teams are good because of cheap QBs, but that's not why most good teams are good."

Yeah, I dunno. The best teams in the league have consistently been the ones with middle-to-low cap hits from the QB.

2018 Super Bowl QB cap ranks: 20, 26 (26 won)
2017 Super Bowl QB cap ranks: 2, 18 (18 won)
2016 Super Bowl QB cap ranks: 7, 14 (7 won)
2015 Super Bowl QB cap ranks: 13, 32 (13 won)
2014 Super Bowl QB cap ranks: 3, 30 (30 won)

So in that list, in the 4 times a below-average QB cap hit team played an above-average team, the below-average QB cap hit won 3/4 times, with the 4th being a freaking miracle that they didn't win. No team in the top 5 QB cap hits has won in the past 5 Super Bowls, and you'd have to go back to before the restrictions in rookie salaries to find one.

Winning QB average rank: 18.8. Losing QB average rank: 14.2.

Even if you look at the 2016 Super Bowl (Denver vs Carolina), while Manning was a high-paid quarterback that year, obviously they won due to defense, and the *defense* was dramatically underpaid that year.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/15/2018 - 4:26pm

If only there were a better method of evaluating which teams are good. Then we wouldn't be forced to rely on such small sample sizes as "teams that made the Super Bowl for the last five years."

by Pat :: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 4:29pm

Playoffs are a different animal than the regular season. The Falcons can have great success in the regular season spending tons of money on Matt Ryan and still having a good enough team to get into the playoffs.

Once you get into the playoffs, though, you don't get to play easy teams anymore, so different factors come into play. And you've only got the past ~5 years or so to gauge it on, because before that point, the top drafted QBs were frequently the ones with huge cap hits, so everything's muddled. Yeah, they cost a ton, but it was the only way to get a franchise QB at all.

Now you've got Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins at the top, and Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz down at the bottom, and there's a *huge* gap between them. And it's hard not to stare at that $15-20M gap in spending between the two and realize that's a *big* advantage to drafting a QB nowadays.

Yes, of course it's a small sample size, which is why I said I'm not sure. But it really makes me unsure about getting a free agent QB.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 6:18pm

Well, then, why not look at all playoff teams rather than just SB teams?

I suspect your take is too pessimistic. Carry your argument to its logical conclusion: teams with serious ambitions should only ever play QBs on their rookie contracts. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Russel Wilson, Roethlisberger, all should be released so that these teams can gamble on a QB in the draft and save dollars.

You don't seem to recognize that a premium QB is always underpaid, relative to the value they're contributing.

by ssereb :: Tue, 02/20/2018 - 8:30pm

Teams with serious ambitions (and by serious I mean those with a roster capable of competing for a Super Bowl) frequently use their championship prospects to convince good QBs to take team-friendly deals. If the Patriots cut Tom Brady tomorrow, I doubt he'd play for the Browns on the same kind of below-market deal simply because Tom Brady does not instantly turn the Browns into a title contender.

by Pat :: Wed, 02/21/2018 - 1:38pm

I'd say that's true for QBs who *start off* on the team. Then you're just convincing them to stay - like an incumbent advantage. The Broncos didn't really get a team friendly deal with Manning.

And it's not like Brady's going to take a pay *cut* just because the team's doing well (regardless of what the media likes to report). So the only way you end up with a championship roster with a below-market QB is to start off with a below-market QB. Which means drafting one.

by Pat :: Wed, 02/21/2018 - 1:35pm

Because I'm not saying teams that get into the playoffs don't overpay for QBs. I'm saying teams in the playoffs that go far in the playoffs don't overpay for QBs.

It's not an easy thing to show, because you've got lots of issues - you only get the teams you get (so if everyone who makes it into the playoffs overpays, obviously the best teams will still overpay) and you only play the teams you play (so if a team who overpays plays a team who overplays, *one* of them has to win).

"Carry your argument to its logical conclusion: teams with serious ambitions should only ever play QBs on their rookie contracts. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Russel Wilson, Roethlisberger, all should be released so that these teams can gamble on a QB in the draft and save dollars."

No, of course not. You just don't overpay QBs relative to what everyone else is. In the *earliest* years of having a draft QB, you're obviously going to be worse than an average team, since it takes everyone a few years. Then when the draft QB starts ramping up, you extend his contract to make sure that you stay average/cheap compared to the other teams in the league, and stay proactive to make sure your QB's cost is manageable.

The Patriots, for instance, haven't ranked over 8th in the league in relative QB cap contribution over those 5 years. Seahawks haven't ranked higher than 16th. Both the Saints and the Steelers have, and, well, neither of those teams have made it to the Super Bowl over that same 5 year span, and the Saints haven't even made it past the divisional round.

"You don't seem to recognize that a premium QB is always underpaid, relative to the value they're contributing."

I don't agree. I don't think a team out there could reasonably offer Cousins $40M/year and still build a viable team around him. I think there's plenty of evidence that spending $30M+ per year on a QB limits the team that you can build around him significantly.

I mean, basically, the problem is that the most consistent team in the NFL is the Patriots. They have the top QB in the league. They *also* have him at a league-average cost. So is the reason they're winning the value of the QB, or the value per dollar? Value-wise, Brady is pretty much better than everyone, but it's close. But he's also pretty much better than every non-rookie QB in value per dollar, too. So... no real way to tell.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 02/23/2018 - 9:59pm

You're one of those "overthatcap.com" truthers aren't you? God I hate the ideas they're spreading, such as the notion that one way to build a team is better than other ways. How arrogant!

by Dan :: Thu, 02/22/2018 - 4:59am

Philly actually had more of their 2017 cap devoted to QB than New England, $19.7M vs. $15.4M (if I'm reading Sportrac correctly).

For the Patriots the bulk of that was for Brady ($14M). For the Eagles the bulk of it was divided roughly evenly between Chase Daniel ($6.1M), Carson Wentz ($6.1M), and Sam Bradford ($5.5M).

by Pat :: Thu, 02/22/2018 - 11:43am

Daniel and Bradford were dead cap, though. They didn't contribute to the team in 2017. The fact that their salaries got allocated to 2017 is just cap management stuff, not "positional spending." To put it another way, the Eagles and Patriots both had about $153M to dedicate to active and injured players in 2017, and the Eagles allocated about $15M and the Patriots about $22M, both of which were either below-average or average. This is in comparison to a team like the Dolphins, spending $32M, or the Redskins, spending $27.5M, or the Falcons, spending $27.2M.

I agree that if a team had a huge dead cap hit due to a QB (and here you're talking about $10M, so that's pretty big) and that resulted in them having way less money available for active+injured (which *didn't* happen this time) that you'd want to say that was "positional spending." But that wasn't the case this time.

But anyway, dealing with crap like that with spotrac is nearly impossible anyway, so "full cap" spending it is.

by Dan :: Thu, 02/22/2018 - 3:10pm

My main point is that the Eagles' approach to the QB position in recent years hasn't freed up much money to spend on other positions. Starting with the 2015 season, the Eagles have had contracts with Carson Wentz (they're scheduled to pay him $26.7M in total through 2019), Sam Bradford (they paid him $23.0M), Nick Foles (scheduled for $11.1M through 2018), Chase Daniel (paid $11.1M), Mark Sanchez (paid $4.8M), and some other little ones. That all counts against the cap at some point, although it is just a matter of accounting to determine precisely when it does. I'd sum it up as $17.8M/yr for their 2015-18 QBs (assuming they stick with the QBs currently on their roster), and then they get Wentz for only $8.5M in 2019. Below average QB spending, on the whole, but not by that much.

The Eagles and Patriots managed to avoid having much dead cap mainly by staying healthy, and also by avoiding bad contracts at other positions. That seems unrelated to their approaches to QB spending.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/23/2018 - 11:39am

Well, the Eagles haven't had a consistent approach since 2015. That was Kelly. 2016-17 was Roseman, and 2016 of course was mostly cleaning up Kelly's mess, so obviously there's going to be a high outlay for QBs in 2016, since they got rid of Sanchez and Bradford (and Bradford spilled into 2017 since they held onto him as Wentz insurance for a while). But really, that's beside the point. Every team has to deal with old contract stuff like that, and every team basically ends up with a pretty similar active + injured salary total. In fact, I'd have to imagine that most teams *plan* contract structures to make sure they don't vary too much from the typical league amounts.

This is, of course, ignoring the teams that are actively tanking or rebuilding, like the Browns, Jets, 49ers and Bills.

"My main point is that the Eagles' approach to the QB position in recent years hasn't freed up much money to spend on other positions."

But I still don't get this argument at all. In 2017, they basically had ~$155M to spend on player salaries. That was decided basically before the year, because Bradford was already gone and they weren't planning on keeping Daniel at his current salary. So *part* of your argument is true in that signing Daniel last year turned out to be an overspend that leaked into this year. I'd kinda buy that it might make sense to count Daniel's $6.1M hit against the QB spending for 2017, but even in that case, it's still low/average compared to the league, which was the point.

And in any case, even then, the point is that in 2017, the low cap hits of Wentz, Foles, and Sudfeld left them with $145M to spend on the remaining players (which they *used* to pick up quite a bit of free agent talent). Compare that to, say, the Falcons, who had only $130M to spend on the remaining players. Or the Ravens, who had only $116.8M. Or the Dolphins, who had only $119.4M.

(Which honestly makes the Cutler signing by Miami even more questionable, considering they basically spent up to the cap to get Cutler. Why the hell would they do that unless they thought they could actually make a real run this year? And if they thought they could make a real run, why didn't they spend that $10M on someone before Tannehill got hurt?)

by Will Allen :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:57pm

Well, unlike getting JaMarcussed, getting Garrapoloed will not entail making a blind bet on a guy's work ethic, after getting a well above median income for this society. That's not trivia. Shanahan has actually seen where the guy is at, in terms of game preparation.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 12:22pm

No, but it does entail making a blind bet on his ability to stay healthy. He didn't make it past week 2 with the Patriots before getting a six-week injury, and he's only played 5 games for the 49ers. At this point if that was a continuous season for 1 team, he would've missed almost 50% of his starts.

Plus with the rookie wage scale at this point, making a bad bet on a top quarterback really barely costs you anything except a bit of time, whereas making a good bet also gets you a few years of a cheap QB.

Even if they nailed the Garappolo choice they've really just put themselves among the "teams with good QBs but hamstrung by large contracts," and squarely behind the "teams with good QBs with favorable contracts."

by ssereb :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:00pm

I wouldn't call "over $80 million in cap space even after paying the QB" hamstrung, exactly. They can't go out and pay the top free agent at every position of need, perhaps, but that's not a good team-building strategy anyway. They have a top 10 pick without a need to draft a QB in a draft where 4 QBs might go in the top 10, and an extra 3rd round pick. They are in pretty good shape.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:14pm

Oh, I agree, it is a risk, paying market value for such limited sample size. It's just not a JaMarcus level risk, as faint of praise as that may be.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:21pm

My point is that really, you can't make a JaMarcus level risk anymore since the rookie wage scale was implemented. Wentz's contract, for instance, was like $25M over 4 years. That's a totally and completely negligible risk at this point.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:34pm

Again, you're right. The rookie wage scale has really bailed the owners out. I'm really curious to observe the dynamics of the NFLPA in the next CBA negotiations. Obviously, when careers are so short, there are a huge number of players who are harmed by not being able to seek market value for 4 or 5 years. Some veterans no doubt benefit, and it seems unlikely that there ever will be constituency of existing players who will make any effort to protect the interests of guys who are now in college. Pity the 21 year old running back who will be mostly used up by age 27.

by Pat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:48pm

"Obviously, when careers are so short, there are a huge number of players who are harmed by not being able to seek market value for 4 or 5 years."

Sure. But those players don't become eligible to be a rep for the NFLPA, now do they?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:06pm


by Richie :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 2:27pm

It bailed the owners out. But it also helps shift the money from unproven rookies to proven veterans. I think that works out better for the players who are worthy of being in the NFL.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:08pm

A guy can have a pretty darned good 5 year career right now, which is longer than average, and get completely screwed.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:10pm

The solution, of course, is to limit rookie contracts to one or two years.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:54pm

That would be a lot fairer to rookie players, of course, but that would radically change the league. Draft picks would become almost worthless, and players deemed to require a bit more seasoning before making an impact would be truly worthless as draft assets.

I could get behind a hybrid approach where teams could exercise control over players for the first four years like they do now, but with the provision that salary could be adjusted upward after the first year or two based on production. That way a mid to late round pick who turns out to be really good could start to get paid more than a pittance before free agency, but teams could still plan around having a player for a few years. (Although, how would the cap factor in? Would teams have to allocate space to their future cap based on the minimum a player could earn, the maximum, or something in between?)

by theslothook :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 5:30pm

Would it radically change the demand for picks? A pick is still a blank slate that the coach/organization gets to mold. And by the way, I suspect most coaches and gms operate on a 2 year timeline anyways so I don't think the length of 2 years is a huge deterrent. I might be talked into a 3 year contract but certainly not 4 with a 5th option. That gives teams all the leverage. As is, the current situation is pretty regressive. Stars soak up all the draft savings.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:32am

If contracts were cut down to 2 years or less, I think it would. Especially at the higher paid positions, QB being the most obvious, part of the value of a draft pick is the cost control over multiple years. (To your point, though, I guess there would still be an opportunity to mold your own draft picks. A guy who didn't do much on the field his first year or two wouldn't be in high demand on the open market, so a team that still liked his potential could sign him for a relatively low price).

Playing devil's advocate, the only players with 5th year options are the ones taken in the first round where more money is guaranteed, plus that 5th year is a lot closer to market value than the first 4 are. I do agree that certain positions get screwed - running backs have such short careers anyway, and QBs have a market that is so crazy that the few million a year they're guaranteed as first-round rookies is still a small fraction of what they'd get on the open market. To me the best way to address it is performance-based increases so that a 6th round pick who becomes a top player at his position can't be paid only a few hundred thousand.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 1:32pm

Id be in favor of minimum 3 year contracts. Anymore and it's up to the player and the team. Running backs are royally screwed in this setup.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 3:32pm

For the life of me, I cannot understand how getting "a lot closer to market value" in year 5, compared to the previous 4, is considered as anything but damning with the faintest praise imaginable, especially since even for 1st rounders, the average career length is only 9.3 years.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 5:10pm

Median is a better stat than mean for that comparison.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 8:03pm

I couldn't find it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:00am

I did a review of players, not by draft round but just in general, and found that players who started at least one season (so guys who weren't just special teamers or backups) ended up with 3-4 seasons as a starter, on median.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 5:49pm

Being fair to the people who have earned snaps would seem to be the entire point.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 5:10pm

Presuming $74 million guaranteed is correct, he's earned a bit over $272,000 guaranteed for every career pass attempt.

I believe this may be somewhat higher than my hourly earnings rate.

by Richie :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 2:12pm

The other downside compared to a pre-2011 pick is that Garoppolo is ~5 years older than a rookie would be.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 3:07pm

Is it really betting that much, though? (I mean in the relative sense; obviously $74 million is a ton of money).

It sounds like this is basically a 3-year commitment based on the amount that's guaranteed. Short of Garoppolo completely playing like garbage a la Brock Osweiler, or having some bizarre off-the-field issue, I can't see the 49ers wanting to cut him loose much sooner than that. If he regresses in 2018 and finishes as the 20th-best QB or something, they're still going to want to see if he can live up to his potential. And it's not like free agent QBs are easy to find.

Meanwhile, if Garoppolo establishes himself as a great QB, then they've locked him up for 5 years at an expensive contract but one that won't be the most expensive in the league for more than a year or two, if that.

by ssereb :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:19pm

I don't think it's going to be the most expensive in the league for more than a few months. Cousins and Rodgers should both be getting new deals, and barring Rodgers taking some funky team-friendly contract structure, Garoppolo will be, at most, the third most expensive QB by the start of the season.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 4:43pm

Speaking of Cousins, he's probably going to get more than Garoppolo and I don't necessarily think that makes sense. Yes, he has a longer track record of moderate success, but at this point it looks like he is conclusively not a great QB. Garoppolo, on the other hand, could ultimately be a flop or he could be a franchise-defining, top-5-in-the-NFL-for-the-next-ten-years kind of QB.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 1:16am

HE WAS #3 IN THE NFL IN DYAR ONE YEAR AGO! But people even on FO say he's "conclusively not a great QB." What the hell are you talking about?

by ssereb :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 11:17pm

That stat isn't independent of context, though. Washington receivers also had a pretty excellent season last year. All things considered, I would probably rather pay Garoppolo $27.5 million a year than Cousins $30 million. But GMs are fairly risk averse and Cousins has a pretty high floor and a high (though not transcendent) ceiling. I think he can consistently post top-10 finishes but I have a hard time seeing him #1 in the league. If you can put a good team around him without going into cap hell, you can find consistent success and maybe even win a Super Bowl.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 1:58am

I'll buy the context argument, to an extent, but I don't think it necessarily works against him like you're thinking. From my observations--I've followed Cousins's career closely, as he's been a favorite of mine from draft day 2012 on--Cousins can elevate his WRs around him, but to do so he needs good protection from his OL. Another interesting fact about 2016 was that Cousins had THE #1 BEST DVOA (or DYAR? I forget) in the NFL on plays where there was no pressure. And knowing what I do about his work ethic, and looking at how he took 2x as many sacks this year compared to his previous average, I bet dealing with pressure is a point of focus for him this offseason. I bet that sack rate is what killed his advanced stats this year as well. Has any QB done more in a season with such an injured OL that the team played something like 20+ different OL combos?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 9:26am

The Vikings o-line situation last year was worse, really historically bad (they played 5 guys just at left tackle, for instance) receivers were injured, and Bradford managed to rank 16th in DYAR, 17yh in DVOA. It was a tremendous performance by Bradford and Schurmur.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:19am

I actually didn't realize he was ranked that high in 2016. Then again, in 2017 he was 16th and ended up slightly below Blake Bortles, a guy who many people insist Jacksonville needs to replace at the earliest opportunity.

When I say "not a great QB" I don't mean that he can't be solidly in the top half of the league, and occasionally have a season that's even better than that like he did in 2016. But I mean at this point I am pretty sure he is not Rodgers, Brady, Brees, etc. And my opinion is that if you're going to dedicate a sixth of your cap space to one guy, you should at least have a reasonable hope that he might be truly great.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 1:57pm

At this point, he's not markedly different than Brees was at this point.

And Brees spent 2004-2005 playing with peak Tomlinson and Gates.

by Chuckc :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 3:50pm

When you're as bad as the 49ers have been recently, you have to pay a premium to keep/acquire good talent.

by Pat :: Wed, 02/14/2018 - 11:54am

If only there was some way that each team could be handed an opportunity to acquire top talent for basically peanuts...

Maybe, to encourage parity, you could even have the worst teams in the league get the first choice!

by Sixknots :: Thu, 02/15/2018 - 11:37pm

"Maybe, to encourage parity, you could even have the worst teams in the league get the first choice!"

Yes, but to have that really work, you would have to also flip GMs and scouting staff and in some cases owners (see Snyder, Dan, Irsay, Bob and who the hell is the Cleveland owner).

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 02/23/2018 - 10:10pm

ENCOURAGE parity, not necessarily achieve it. With guys like Dan Snyder competing against guys like Belichick, Snyder will always be a loser. Hell, he'd be always be a loser competing against the staff at the stadium McFonalds.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:08pm

Everyone welcome to their own opinion on the keep/dump Brady/JimmyG question, but I would be interested in seeing a Venn diagram of people saying Pats should have dumped Brady/kept JimmyG and people who have argued Brady-is-a-system-guy-anyone-could-do-it, based on the Cassel (and to a small extent JimmyG) experience...

If the system argument has merit, draft another dude this year and not worry about paying him for three years.

by MJK :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:19pm

I am in the set of people that think the Pats should have traded Brady and gone with Garoppolo either this year or next year.

I am not in the set that thinks Brady is a system guy.

I am in the set that thinks, with the right raw material, Belichick and McDaniels can make a good QB. It's OK to think that both Brady and Garoppolo had the right raw material, but not that many guys do.

(Matt Cassel did not have the right raw material--i.e. his ceiling was too low--but he looked good for a season with the Pats because of clever coaching to hide his flaws, the insane amount of talent around him, and one of the easiest schedules that Pats have had in the last 20 years).

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 9:33am

Cassel did take the Chiefs to the playoffs in a Pro Bowl season. He wasn't great, but he also wasn't bad.

by dryheat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 9:45am

I think he's still an above-average short-term backup QB. When you look at some of the guys holding clipboards in the NFL, there's not many I'd trust more than Cassel not to f things up with putrid decisions.

/faint praise damning.

by Mike B. In Va :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:21am

Clearly you did not watch his time in Buffalo. He got beat out by EJ-freakin'-Manuel.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:46am

Exhibit B is when he came in for an injured Marcus Mariota against Houston early this past season. In relatively few drop backs, he contributed quite a bit to the Titans 43 point loss.

by Shylo :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:41pm

Oh hell no. You didn't watch him in Tennessee. Granted, the offense managed to make MARCUS MARIOTA look mediocre, but Cassel was hot garbage.

by jtr :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:21pm

I don't think I've seen anyone on these boards argue that Brady is a system guy who has been replaceable his whole career. The closest to that that I've seen has just been that he's had a better supporting cast than most others (usually in comparison to Peyton Manning), which I think I don't think is a very controversial opinion. The Cassel experience in particular came when in 2008, when the Pats were coming off their all-time peak in 2007. Cassel got plugged into one of the best teams ever assembled, so naturally he performed better than a JAG like him would in ordinary circumstances.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:52pm

I don't have the energy to look it up but I know people here have made the argument or implied that Brady (media-anointed)GOAT status way overblown as many QBs could have accomplished what he did in the Pats system/under BB (which seems arguable from 2001-2006 but no so much after). And people of course are free to make that argument, as they don't have to worship at the temple of Brady or drink a lot of water.

As for supporting cast, IMO saying that Brady had a better/steadier/more consistent WR supporting cast than PM seems pretty controversial. 2007 seems to be the first year Pats WRs were arguably better. No opinion on the O lines which would be another big issue in comparing the two.

Not wanting to start that thread, but any comparison of the two statistically would have to account for the supporting casts and I don't know if I've seen that done. Raw QB stats, PM blows TB away through 2006, after that Brady much improved statistically so stat battle gets more even.

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 7:24pm

The issue here is that both qbs have played such a long time that its hard to really compare supporting casts. Its doubly hard when you can't separate accurately between qb and skill players. Some incontrovertible facts - Manning absolutely had a better set of skill players from 1998 to 2006. Brady had an absolutely better supporting cast from 2007 to 2011. From 2012 onward? That largely depends on what you think of DT, Edleman, Hernandez, Amendola, Decker, and Sanders.

Even the system player thing requires some nuance. It is absolutely without merit to say that Brady is JAG. But does the Pats system help their qbs? I think most people, even pats fans, think so. And given the success with Bill Obrien, I'm not convinced its a McDaniels thing either.

Greg Cosell once was asked - how is that the Patriots are able to get their primary read open so many times so quickly? He answered - with every trick in the book. Spread formations, speed no huddle, bunch concepts, motion, traps, misdirection. I have to think that such a complex set of presnap stuff is a testament to proper coaching. The anti example would be Malarky.

This is where I think it becomes a discussion about Jimmy G vs Brady. Its not that people truly believe Brady is worse than Jimmy G. Its just - NE's system probably reduces the risk that Jimmy G falls flat and probably recreates some of the highs that Brady would deliver, albeit not quite as high as what Brady himself could do. Are the years on Jimmy G worth that tradeoff in ceiling is the relevant question. Moot now, but its a really interesting question in a vacuum.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 7:54pm

Hernandez was a killer matchup... sorry, couldn't resist.

Agree it is an interesting moot question. Just not sure with the JG rookie contract timing and Brady's 2017 performance and the likely Pats reluctance to pay JG 70MM guaranteed that it ever could have (even if it should have) turned out differently.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 9:55am

The Brady argument goes as such:
From 2001 to 2006, he was a good QB who got carried by a stellar defense and a sufficient offense.

Go back and look at that 2003 team. They didn't throw a ton, but you couldn't pass on them. 29 INTs to 11 TDs.

Brady had Blake Bortles numbers. About the same number of yards, about the same TD/INT ratio and count. He was less prone to self-destructing in big situations and was trusted more, but that era of New England was like Jacksonville today.

In 2007, Modern Brady appears. Brady goes from a 3600 yd, 26-13 guy to 4800 yards, 50-8. He goes from a Maroney-Dillon based offense to the Welker-Moss Death Star. This is his Babe Ruth in 1920 season.

New England had taken the 199th pick and turned him into the MVP. Then 2008 happens. Brady blows his knee out in game 1, and in comes Matt Cassel. Cassel is a 230th pick. He hasn't started a game since high school (he backed up Palmer and Leinart at USC). He goes 11-5, with 2001-2006 Brady-like numbers: 3600 yards, 21-11. In 2009, Brady returns and goes 10-6, with a 4200 yd 28-13 season. More pass-oriented, but similar to his non-2007 seasons.

Thus the perception becomes New England can plug in any stooge and get a 3600 yd, 22-11 season out of them. Even undrafted guys become above-average starters. This perception increases as Cassel flames out shortly after leaving, and other departed backups (Hoyer, Mallett, etc) underwhelm in outside contexts. Many New England departees seem to experience this.

Since then, from 2010-2017, Brady rejoins the Brees/Manning/Marino tier of high-performance chuckers, and we start to see him elevating inferior talent around him. Brady basically has two career eras, divded by an exchange period from 2007-2009, where 2009 belongs to the earlier era and 2007 to the latter. Early Brady was a game-manager, carried by his defense. He compares to late Elway and late Manning, or a more-restrained McMahon. He went 3-0 in Super Bowls. Late Brady put the offense on his back and carried a surprisingly sub-par defense. He was peak Brees/Manning/Elway/Marino. He went 2-3 in Super Bowls.

Brady had a Benjamin Button career; he lived it backwards.

He started his career with a middling offensive talent and a (Pittsburghian) power running game, buoyed by a stellar defense. He's ending his career playing with hall of fame receivers, with arguable GOATs at WR and TE, and the best-coached line in NFL history -- all while carrying a struggling no-name defense. So has he played with a bunch of nobodies? Yes. Has he been surrounded by stars? Yes. It's been a long career. Similarly, Manning played with two Hall RBs and two Hall WRs. Arguably, he made two of them. Arguably. He also won with Damnit Donald and a 1-second offensive line. Thing change over time.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 8:57am

I honestly think 2005 and 2006 were two of Brady's most impressive seasons. He went from being a good but unremarkable QB in a very favourable situation to a great QB in a fairly poor situation, so the numbers stayed pretty similar in spite of a significant improvement in his play. 2007 was the start of his elite production, but 2005 was the start of his elite performance.

by Cythammer :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:24pm

What on earth are you talking about? You're aware that what Garoppolo did last year was for the 49ers, not the Patriots, right? He's not in the Patriots system anymore, and did very well even after coming over in mid-season and only having a few weeks of preparation.

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:12pm

I wonder if it would not have been wiser to franchise tag Jimmy G just to ensure that he's a for sure thing. He's looked dynamite so far, but its still a risk when you don't have a full season of film. Hell, they could even sign him mid season if he looks great. Given the contract, I doubt it would have cost much more anyways.

I guess the downside is the way the Kirk Cousins thing played out, but even there - I bet if they offered him a massive extension mid season he would have taken it.

by serutan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:12pm

I suspect that last was a big influence - the Niners decided that giving him
the money now and having a happy QB was a better risk/reward proposition than
a West Coast version of the Cousins fiasco.
Was wr

by Never Surrender :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:16pm

And this is why the Redskins traded for Smith. Cousins is sitting at home thinking about how he's going to spend $150 million right now.

by Megamanic :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 11:58pm

and Cousins' agent should be working very hard for his $15m+

by serutan :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 12:24am

Not sure I'd call "Answer his phone" working hard...
Was wr

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 11:05pm

The Redskins might still tag Cousins. Do not underestimate their ability to create a clusterf*ck.

by dryheat :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 10:22am

The Alex Smith contract isn't official yet, is it? If I'm Smith, I'm not signing with Washington unless and until Cousins is set free. Make Washington choose.

I understand Washington trying to get an asset, but 1) Cousins is under no obligation to sign the tag and be sent to a team not of his choosing, and 2) They can't trade him until he does. I don't see a situation where this works out well for Washington. Dan Snyder and his minions have an amazing capacity for doing stupid things, but even they can see this, right? Right?

by apk3000 :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 8:18am

Well a transition tag just gives a team a chance to match, right? No team will believe a Redskins' threat to match and if they're dumb enough to franchise him, Cousins will sign it and every team will simply wait until they release him (because even the Redskins aren't dumb enough to actually let him attend camp and potentially show up Alex Smith... well, maybe they aren't that dumb).

by RickD :: Sun, 02/18/2018 - 7:58pm

I doubt Cousins would hesitate to sign a franchise tag tender. Since it would be the third tag in a row, the number would bump up to $34M per year. I don't see how this works out poorly for Cousins. Let's say the Redskins try to trade him to a team he doesn't want to go to. He just says "I won't sign a long term deal with Team X". Then either Team X or the Redskins is stuck paying him $34 M for one year of QBing.

Now since Team X = the Browns, I could also see them doing this to themselves.

$34 million is a lot of money to trade for one year of continued servitude. And I think Cousins actually likes the Redskins - it's just the management that gets on his nerves.

I don't think a tag would be worth it for the Redskins.

There are other issues. Cousins' agent could file a grievance if he were tagged, since it's clear from the Smith trade that the Redskins don't really want him, and the franchise tag is, by the CBA, only supposed to be used on players that the team really wants to keep. I know there's historically been a lot of winking at that clause, but the trade for Smith really puts the lie to any pretense here.

by theslothook :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:19pm

I have been thinking about the decision by NE to trade Jimmy G. Its a pretty impossible situation. You could franchise Jimmy G - but that is an awful lot of money to be tied into two qbs. At the same time, there is 0 current succession path once Brady is gone. Unless you think Brady's timetable is two seasons from now, Ne was backed into a real corner.

I think, given all of that information, they made the right decision to trade Jimmy G given the information they had at the time.

Put it this way - knowing what we know now, would Pat fans prefer to sign Jimmy G and cut Brady or stick with Brady for two more years?

by PatsFan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:30pm

The decision was not in Belichick's hands.

In an interview with NFL Network a day or two before SB52, Kraft said fully on the record that Brady had "earned the right to decide when he would leave the team".

That said, unless JG would agree to some bridge deal (and why would he?), NE had to trade JG unless Brady suffered some career-ending injury before the trade deadline.

by dryheat :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 9:42am

Kraft also said that Belichick makes all football-related decisions without interference, and flat out said that he and Belichick hadn't discussed Garoppolo whatsoever since the summer.

The comment you paraphrase was in reference to retirement rumors.

What I empirically know is that Brady, during the 2017 season, was named the league MVP, named first team All-Pro, brought the Patriots to the Super Bowl, had one of the finest performances in the game's history, engineered a potential game-winning drive, and has his team entrenched as the favorite for 2018.

I'm not seeing evidence of this drop-off people say is right around the bend. Given the financial realities in play, it's hard for me to take seriously the notion that the Patriots traded the wrong guy.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 10:03am

The rebuttal is Peyton Manning in 2013 and Brett Favre in 2009.

Manning was still really good in 2014, but they lost a playoff game because his body had faded over the course of that year. By 2015, someone was walking around in a body that looked like Peyton but threw like Cooper.

In 2009, Favre goes 4200 yards, 33-7. He's ageless. Minnesota goes to the NFC Championship game. In 2010, Favre struggles badly and Chicago drives the stake through his career in week 13, sending out football's immortal man with a career-ending injury.

If New England can keep clean pockets for three more years, Brady might last that long. If they can't, you might see a huge regression next year.

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:55pm

What I empirically know is that Brady, during the 2017 season, was named the league MVP, named first team All-Pro, brought the Patriots to the Super Bowl, had one of the finest performances in the game's history, engineered a potential game-winning drive, and has his team entrenched as the favorite for 2018.

Great! His trade value will never be higher.

The Garoppolo trade makes me admire the way the 49ers had the courage to trade Joe Montana when he was still Joe Freakin' Montana. I'd have thought...if anyone in the modern NFL would have similar courage, it'd be Belichick.

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 11:12pm

Steve Young had already won the starting job from Montana when Montana was traded. That's why he was traded. He missed all of the '91 and '92 seasons (except the final half of the final game in 1992) due to an elbow injury. Young won the job. He was first team All-Pro in 1992.

It's really a poor analogy to the Brady/Jimmy G situation. Even when Brady was suspended, Jimmy only had 2 starts before he got injured.

by bravehoptoad :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 9:58am

It's an analogy, not a poor one, not a precise one. Young-Montana was much messier, for sure, but Young didn't "win" the job--as you point out, he got his break because Montana was injured. I'm actually giving the 49ers too much credit because they finally bumbled their way to trading Montana; it wasn't a clear-cut decision.

But Montana-Young, Manning-Luck, Favre-Rodgers, all cases where an arguable GOAT was let go for a super-talented younger QB. The 49ers, the Colts, the Packers, each could have eked out another few runs with their GOAT, all of whom still had great play left in them, but it was in retrospect the right decision each time.

Brady-Garoppolo? I know where I'm putting my money.

by Shattenjager :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 11:28am

Are we really sure Manning-Luck was right? Manning was still better than Luck for the next three years. Luck was better in 2015, but both were actually pretty bad and unhealthy. Then Luck had a pretty good season in 2016 (and this time only missed one game) while Manning was retired. Since then, Luck has provided the exact same on-field value as the retired Manning. With all of the whispers and secrecy around Luck's shoulder, it's really difficult to guess what to expect of him in the future.

It's possible that the Colts would have been better off sticking with Manning. If Luck comes back healthy and plays lights-out for several years, which I think most of us expect, it was the right decision, but I'm not sure we know that yet.

I don't think it really changes your overall point. Brady now is five years older than Manning was then, so I would put my money on the younger QB, too. But I don't really think we know that the Manning-Luck transition was a success story yet.

by bravehoptoad :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 10:30am

I guess that's right: given what we know now, would the Clots be better off trading Manning three years ago and drafting Luck, or keeping Manning and trading the #1 overall for a boatload of draft picks? You could make arguments either way.

by duh :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 6:15pm

The Montana/Young situation is far more analogous to the Bledsoe/Brady situation than the Brady/Garappolo situation.

by bravehoptoad :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 10:27am

Montana = Bledsoe in this situation? By what possible measure was Bledsoe ever on the short list for greatest QB of all time?

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 1:41am

Kind of straw-manning that argument, aren't you?

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:42am

I don't think so. He's literally saying Montana/Young is analogous to Bledsoe/Brady. I'm pointing out there's a bit of quality difference between Montana and Bledsoe. What straw man am I raising?

by anotherpatsfan :: Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:37pm

Montana/Young nothing like Bledsoe/Brady. Neither situation remotely resembles Brady/Jimmy G. Luck/Manning arguably the closest comparison mentioned. The question of whether the right choice was made simply can't be answered at this point, absent knowledge of how the next year or two goes for both QBs, and who the Pats draft.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 02/23/2018 - 10:19pm

I'm not sure. I don't think I intended to reply to your comment, that must have been aimed elsewhere.

by anotherpatsfan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 4:36pm

I would always vote for more Brady - until he goes all late-stage Peyton Manning, which will happen eventually but that time doesn't yet (IMO) seem to be at hand.

Draft the next guy and hope. In Bill we trust (except for that Butler thing...)

With hindsight -- if JimmyG is stud next two years -- once could make the argument something different should have happened. Hard (IMO, as a Pats fan) to make that argument now.

Although Scott K probably working on that argument as we speak...

by serutan :: Thu, 02/08/2018 - 6:14pm

"I would always vote for more Brady - until he goes all late-stage Peyton Manning, which will happen eventually but that time doesn't yet (IMO) seem to be at hand."

Don't forget it was pretty sudden with Manning.
Was wr

by Ben :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 11:52am

That’s the problem with this theory. It doesn’t seem like it’s a gradual decline where it’s obvious when to cut a first ballot HoF QB. It’s more like the coyote running off a cliff and all the sudden looking down. It’s a little late at that point.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 5:25pm

QBs are very similar to pitchers.

They don't really age gradually, they just get old very quick.

For pitchers too, many of the great ones are great into their mid-30's until they suddenly fall off a cliff (usually injury related), take the recently deceased Roy Halladay.

With great QBs, the end is usually startlingly sudden. With Peyton, it happened literally mid-season.

by anotherpatsfan :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:08pm

Patspulpit does some "analysis" on when we will know if Brady falls off the cliff (arguing he's not there yet, based on passer rating data for Manning, Favre, and Brady - graphs!). Worth a look IMO.


by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:31pm

Interesting article. Wish they didn't include so many years on Brady's graph; it was hard to see any kind of pattern at all. Thanks for the link.

by MJK :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:44am

The observation that Brady declines at the end of every season is interesting. The author is obviously suggesting some kind of fatigue (claiming that the seasonal decline is less pronounced earlier in his career), but I wonder if it is just due to the fact that, as the season progresses, it get's cold and windy and starts snowing in New England (and in two of their three division rivals' home cities).

by RickD :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 11:15pm

"It was pretty sudden with Manning."

He missed the entire 2011 season with neck surgery that left him with no arm strength and threatened to end his career. After that he managed to play four more seasons, with noticeable decline in the third leading to a collapse in the fourth.

I don't see that as sudden.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 1:38am

He also had arguably the best season of his career in 2013 (one of the best seasons of ANYBODY'S career). So yes, the decline ONE YEAR AFTER that record-breaking season is pretty sudden.

by dmstorm22 :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 2:51am

Midway through the 2014 season, he was having a season basically as good (and by rate stats better) than his 2013 season.

Say what you want, the end was completely unexpected.

by jackiel :: Sun, 02/11/2018 - 5:15pm

Yep. He was perfectly fine until he got hurt in St. Louis. All downhill after that.

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 2:18pm

Seven years ago I had fusion surgery at the same location (4th cervical) as Manning's. I'd had severe loss of strength/coordination, and post-op regained nearly all strength and maybe 2/3 coordination. Manning is 30 yr younger and a far better athlete, but 100% restoration almost never is the outcome, and continued violent impacts can't help. I see his post-op career as having been extremely vulnerable to again losing function, maybe not obviously neck-related but part of a cascade that begins there.

by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:26pm

Paying a quarterback this high a percentage of the cap makes it unlikely to field a championship team. Trading Jimmy G once the Pats knew they weren't going to get a hometown discount makes perfect sense. It's trading Jacoby Brissett that I question, but even then, it worked out fine for the Pats as long as they draft Brady's heir soon.

The Patriots drafting Baker Mayfield, Mike White or Kyle Lauletta is my second worst nightmare right now. They won't have the chance to take Darnold or Rosen unless the entire league turns stupid. Lamar Jackson could do well, but he would be a major shift in offensive style from Brady. I also like Mason Rudolph, but he has enough issues with short range accuracy to not terrify me completely. There's a couple of other quarterback prospects who have a chance of becoming good NFL qbs, so it's quite possible the Patriots get Brady's successor in this draft.

My number one nightmare is that the Jets draft Josh Allen. I'll probably stop watching them if that happens.

by jtr :: Fri, 02/09/2018 - 7:47pm

>Paying a quarterback this high a percentage of the cap makes it unlikely to field a championship team

Doing ANYTHING is highly unlikely to field a championship team. Only 1 out of 32 teams wins the championship, so your odds are only 3% of being a championship team any given year.

If the NFL were truly an efficient market, then the price of high-end QB play would be set such that spending a big chunk of your salary cap on a high-end QB would give you the exact same chance to win a championship as spending that same amount of cash on other players and taking your chances on drafting a QB. I kind of suspect that based on that criteria, QB's are still underpaid in this league. I really doubt the Niners would be in better shape for 2018 with $27M worth of defensive ends or offensive tackles or whatever and a rookie QB than they are with Jimmy G and the second overall pick to give him some help. YMMV.

by mehllageman56 :: Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:30pm

I was going to refute your argument, but then I read this article on Over the Cap that disproves my opinion: https://overthecap.com/thoughts-jimmy-garoppolos-137-5-million-contract-...

Basically, the 49ers front-loaded the contract with a 37 million dollar cap hit this year. Next year, he costs 20 million against the cap, so his cap percentage will probably fall around 11%. Obviously, we don't know the 2019 cap number yet, I just used the 2018 cap estimate, so his percentage of the cap may be even less. His cap number goes up to 27 million the next couple of years, but the cap hit for cutting Jimmy G after year 2 is minimal. By the time DeForest Buckner and Reuben Foster hit free agency, the 49ers will have the cap room to keep them.

The team that signs Cousins should consider a structure like this contract, although only the Jets and Browns may have the cap room to make it work. The Browns should offer him a contract even more front-loaded, so they can hang on to their valuable front seven pieces in a couple of years.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 02/12/2018 - 2:03pm

The real question now is - what super rich Super model will SF try to fix Jimmy G up with? Gotta keep the cap number down on the next extension!