2014: Do NFL QBs really deserve their contracts? (part four)

Joe Flacco is one of the most consistent QBs in the league. He’s never missed a game in his career and has almost always thrown between 3,600 and 3,900 yards in a season. He throws an average of 20 TDs per season and, until last year, about 11 picks per season. Consistency is usually good because you know what’s expected. He has an excellent playoff record and has already won a Super Bowl ring. But the thing about Flacco is very similar to Manning: they don’t do much in the regular season, but explode in the postseason. This isn’t a terrible thing because Super Bowls should be a team effort, but Flacco really doesn’t do enough good to be considered a top QB. Yet when he signed his new deal before last year, it made him the highest-paid QB in NFL history. What? Flacco is not a bad QB to have at all, but there’s no way he deserves that kind of money. Plus, he threw 22 INTs last year and only 19 TDs. That’s awful, and it was his first year under his new contract. His cap hit this year is $14.8 million. He has what I call contract complacency, which is a franchise’s worst nightmare. Good luck figuring him out, Baltimore. Verdict: he doesn’t deserve his contract.

A QB knows that when he ends up in Oakland as the starter, his career is pretty much over. Matt Schaub has that title this year as he enters his first year with the team. He’s had ten seasons in the league already, so he’s already done a lot. Well…sort of. He had a few really good seasons, but he was a backup for the first three years of his career and completely dropped off in his 10 games with Houston last year. Somehow though, the Raiders are willing to pay him $14.13 million this year. He’s only won one playoff game in his entire career and had a trio of 4,000+ yard seasons. Other than that, he hasn’t done much. He’s way overpaid and will continue the long list of Oakland QBs that have gone there to see their career die. Verdict: he doesn’t deserve his contract.

Continuing on the trend of QBs getting over $10 million this year, it brings me to Carson Palmer. Somehow, Palmer ended up having a good season on another team after a stint with the Raiders, something that I can’t remember ever happening in NFL history (that may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point). Well, I guess “good” is a relative term. He threw for over 4,000 yards and almost helped bring them to the playoffs, but they just missed despite being 10-6. The catch to this good season was that he threw 24 TDs and 22 INTs…that’s way too many INTs for a team to have to deal with. Palmer is a solid option at QB even with the picks, but he’s not worth $12 million in one year. He’s still never won a playoff game despite playing in the league for 10 years. He’s starter material, but not big money material. Verdict: he doesn’t deserve his contract.

Many people would disagree with this selection, but I’m going with it anyway. Ben Roethlisberger has moved into the overpaid section. He’s still a great QB and had a very good season last year, managing to play in all 16 games for just the second time in his career. He has an excellent winning percentage in the playoffs and has won two Super Bowls. Only a few guys in the league have better credentials than he does. But, I wouldn’t quite call him elite anymore. He doesn’t put up stats to the level of the other obvious elite guys and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2010. He definitely deserves a lot of money, but he has the third highest cap hit among QBs in the league. While he’s actually better than the two guys who are getting more money, he’s not good enough to deserve a paycheck that large. Verdict: he doesn’t quite deserve his contract.

While this list of guys sums up the people who are overpaid and getting a ton of money, there are also guys who aren’t starters (or who shouldn’t be starters) who are getting overpaid. The first person I want to mention is Alex Smith of the Chiefs. He’s had eight seasons in the NFL and eclipsed the 3,000 yard mark for just his second time last year. While he’s only had two seasons where he started every single game (and one year where he missed the entire year due to injury), he seems to be much more reliable nowadays. Now, “reliable” and “franchise QB” are two totally different things. Smith is the perfect QB to have for a team that has a great defense and running game, much like what Flacco was to the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl. But just because he happens to be the QB on a team that’s always very successful doesn’t mean he deserves big money. He’s already getting $8 million this year and wants a new big contract for the future. For a guy that does as little for the offense as he does, it doesn’t make sense to give him a massive contract. He’s a good player to have as a starter, but he’s too old to just be declared a franchise QB. Verdict: he doesn’t deserve his contract.

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