Now, let’s start looking at some individual players to determine whether or not they deserve their contract. I think the best example to start with is Jay Cutler, QB for the Bears. Cutler’s cap hit and cash earnings more than doubled from the year before. He has the highest cap hit among QBs in the league at $22.5 million. This honestly doesn’t make any sense at all. Once again, Cutler was unable to finish a season after getting injured and missing 5 games. He was just 5-6 in the games that he played in with 19 TDs and 12 INTs. Those are pretty sub-par stats for a guy getting the most money in the league for his position. The Bears were in a good spot to make the playoffs last year, but Cutler lost two of the last three games of the season and the Bears were eliminated from playoff contention. That leaves Cutler with still just one playoff win. Verdict: he does not deserve his contract.
The second highest paid QB this year (and the only other one getting a $20+ million paycheck) is Eli Manning of the Giants. Sure, there was definitely a time when Manning was a great QB; he had three 4,000+ yard seasons in a row, including one that was almost 5,000 yards, and won two Super Bowls. That’s a pretty successful career I’d say. Only four other QBs have more playoff wins. But both times the Giants won the Super Bowl under Manning, they were a wild card team, meaning they needed to win four games per year to win it all. Manning only has eight total playoff wins. He may have gotten it done then, but he’s either all wins or nothing. Manning led the league in INTs last year as well with 27, a career high. Manning’s career projection in the next year or two is fighting for a starting job for the Raiders…basically he’s done. Verdict: he does not deserve his contract.
That rounds out the small list of QBs getting $20 million or more, but there are still a lot of guys getting in the high teens in millions who don’t deserve it. The first of these is Sam Bradford. It’s definitely a shame that he tore his ACL for the second year in a row and will miss the entire season, but it’s time the Rams move on from him anyway. His cap hit is $17.61 million this year, which is definitely one of the higher totals in the league. He was actually having a very solid season last year with 14 TDs and 4 INTs in 7 games until he got hurt. This would’ve been just his fifth year in the league, and he’s already making serious bucks though. Is he really worth it? While some of these guys have the curse of winning just one playoff game, Bradford has never even been to a playoff game. So what exactly is he getting paid for then? Bradford actually has one of the worst contracts in the position because of how much his contract is guaranteed (64.1%). The only guys with higher guaranteed percentages of their contract are either under one year deals or rookie contracts (and one other guy I’ll mention later). Verdict: he does not deserve his contract.
Matt Ryan is a tricky one. He always provides the yards and a lot of TDs, and until last year, relatively few INTs. Last season I don’t know if he had both Roddy White and Julio Jones on the field at the same time (and healthy) for a single game, which is not fair to him. Their injuries were one of the biggest problems for Atlanta last year. But Matty Ice has not exactly been rock solid in the playoffs. He’s made the postseason four times and has a combined one playoff win. That’s not really what a team is looking for in a franchise QB. I expect his regular season to improve this year with White and Jones back, but will his playoff record also improve? Probably not enough to deserve $17.5 million, his cap hit this year. Sorry, Matt. Verdict: he does not deserve his contract.
If there’s any QB that definitely has the stats aspect of QB greatness, it’s Matthew Stafford. He threw the ball a whole lot less last year and they still struggled. I guess his 19 INTs didn’t help much either. Now, he seems to have overcome his injury problems after playing his third full season in a row last year, all of which he accumulated over 4,500 passing yards. Well, like Bradford, he hasn’t won a single playoff game in his five years in the league. He’s been to one, but that’s not enough to justify his $15.82 million cap hit this year. But what’s worse than Bradford is his contract details; his guaranteed money is the highest among people not under one year deals or rookie contracts (78.3% of his contract is guaranteed). How does the franchise benefit if there’s no incentive for the QB to perform well to get his money? Plus, Stafford has the best receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson…anyone can throw to him. Stafford is overrated and likely won’t accomplish anything in the playoffs, if he ever gets there again. Verdict: he doesn’t deserve his contract.