clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Russell Wilson projected to be lowest-paid starting quarterback in the NFL next season

The new CBA in 2011 protects teams from paying too much for a bad investment. But pretty soon they'll have to start paying up for those good investments, and there have been a lot of those.






I don't think a lot of surprises will be unfurthed below. Mostly because I am pretty sure I just made up the word unfurthed. We all know that Russell Wilson was a relatively low draft pick for being a starting quarterback. We know that the new CBA protects teams from overpaying bad investments. Vis-a-vis: Wilson is cheap and likely the best value in the league.

I guess it just never hit me how good of a value he is... for now.

New deals popping up recently for Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, and Tony Romo go to show that you that inflation is still a thing and in some cases that being average can also be a really good thing apparently. The expense at quarterback is probably one reason why many teams have turned to post-2011 rookies to lead them, but also because the post-2011 rookie classes have been pretty damn good.

As of now, a project 37.5-percent of starting NFL quarterbacks will be players that were drafted since 2011. That's 12 out of 32 starting NFL QBs that were enrolled in college in 2011.

After this season, a handful of quarterbacks will be able to renegotiate their four-year rookie contracts that were signed in 2011, including three that have had a high-level of NFL success. That's going to set a bar for players like Wilson when their time comes as well.

I came across an article on the Detroit Free Press that outlined the deals of all 32 NFL starting quarterbacks. Here are some breakdowns:

$100 Million Men

Name Team Total Value Guaranteed 2013 Cash Year Signed
Aaron Rodgers Packers 7 years, $130.75M $54M $40M 2013
Joe Flacco Ravens 6 years, $120.6M $51M $30M 2013
Tony Romo Cowboys 7 years, $119.5M $55M $26.5M 2013
Eli Manning Giants 7 years, $106.9M $35M $13.5M 2009
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers 8 years, $100.12M $33.2M $11.6M 2008
Drew Brees Saints 5 years, $100M $60.5M $10M 2012

Next 5

Name Team Total Value Guaranteed 2013 Cash Year Signed
Philip Rivers Chargers 7 years, $98.31M $38.15M $12M 2009
Peyton Manning Broncos 5 years, $96M $58M $20M 2012
Sam Bradford Rams 6 years, $78M $50M $9M 2010 (Rookie)
Matthew Stafford Lions 5 years, $76.5M $41.5M $31.5M 2013
Matt Ryan Falcons 6 years, $72M $34.75M $10M 2008 (Rookie)

Highest Average Annual Values

Name Team AAV
Joe Flacco Ravens $20.1M
Drew Brees Saints $20M
Peyton Manning Broncos $19.2M
Aaron Rodgers Packers $18.68M
Tony Romo Cowboys $17.07M

Projected starting quarterbacks that signed rookie deals after the new CBA

Name Team Total Value 2013 Cash Overall Pick Free agency year
Cam Newton Panthers 4 years, $22M $2.38M 1 2015
Andrew Luck Colts 4 years, $22.11M $1.39M 1 2016
Robert Griffin III Redskins 4 years, $21.12M $1.35M 2 2016
Jake Locker Titans 4 years, $12.59M $1.52M 8 2015
Ryan Tannehill Dolphins 4 years, $12.67M $965k 8 2016
Blaine Gabbert Jaguars 4 years, $12.01M $1.47M 10 2015
Christian Ponder Vikings 4 years, $10.16M $1.3M 12 2015
E.J. Manuel Bills 4 years, $8.89M $5.25M 16 2017
Brandon Weeden Browns 4 years, $8.08M $757k 22 2016
Andy Dalton Bengals 4 years, $5.22M $849k 35 2015
Colin Kaepernick 49ers 4 years, $5.13M $840k 36 2015
Russell Wilson Seahawks 4 years, $3M $526k 75 2016

Players on new CBA rookie deals that don't have a million dollar guarantee:

Name Team Guaranteed money Reaction
Russell Wilson Seahawks $619k Say whaaaaatttttt

That's right. The lowest-paid starting quarterback of 2013 is also the only quarterback to win his teams starting job and not have a contract that at least guarantees him a million dollars. The next lowest-guarantee is Kaepernick's $3.8M. Players that are drafted in the first round get a full guarantee on their rookie deals, meaning that Cam Newton is guaranteed to be paid $22 million but Wilson only earns what he manages to make --

That is to say that if something terrible happened, he would still only be a player that signed a 4 year deal for $3 million and less than $700,000 guaranteed. By comparison, Tony Romo would make his first $3 million this year about halfway through Week 2.

Romo and Wilson have the same number of career playoff victories.

My understanding is that players can start to renegotiate their deals after three years have passed. That means that next offseason you will be hearing talk about new deals for Newton, Dalton, and Kaepernick. You may or may not be hearing about deals for Locker, Gabbert, and Ponder. Those deals will set the bar for when the Seahawks can negotiate with Wilson after 2015.

At that time they will have to decide what is the true value of a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and MVP.

The deals for Stafford and Romo prove without a doubt that NFL franchises are more concerned with having any capable starting quarterback rather than taking the chance of losing a guy that you at least know is slightly above average. Of course, I think that Stafford is going to be just fine and that Romo isn't the biggest problem in Dallas, but deals of that magnitude are still quite revealing.

There also won't be any rush for a team like the Jaguars to extend Gabbert, even if he has a decent season. The Ravens and Flacco couldn't come to an agreement before his contract year, but even after winning the Super Bowl they knew that a simple franchise tag would prevent him from leaving. In some ways, there's almost no incentive to extending your franchise quarterback, though how much money could they possibly have saved by overpaying Flacco to start the year? Would they have still won a Super Bowl? (You know, because of the butterflies in China.)

Before the new deal, you could sign Bradford to a $78 million contract before he had ever even practiced in the NFL. What's going to be the standard for a player like Newton? A 24-year-old, 6'5 former number one pick that's set some NFL standards for throwing and rushing the ball with 7,920 yards passing and 1,447 yards rushing in his first two years? Or Dalton, a player that has already made one Pro Bowl and two playoff appearances for the Bengals.

The Bengals.

Or Kaepernick, a one-time NFC champion already that had 444 total yards against the Packers in the playoffs, and 302 yards passing against the Ravens in the Super Bowl?

Saved by the Bell: The New Class might have been a disaster, but "New CBA: The First Class" could be amazing. We aren't just testing the waters of a few quarterbacks and one star, but really we are talking about the next generation of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Aaron Rodgers. What would their teams have paid them after only three years?

Roethlisberger signed a 6-year, $22.26 million rookie contract after being the 11th overall pick in 2004. He was the Offensive Rookie of the Year that season and a Super Bowl champion the next. Five years ago, he signed an 8-year, $102 million contract. Those numbers look almost silly now.

With a playoff victory in each one of his five seasons and now a championship, Flacco signed a 6 year deal for a little more than $120 million. Without very many wins, but a lot of potential, Stafford is now currently on a 5 year, $76.5 million deal and $41.5 million guaranteed. If Newton plays well again next year but doesn't make the playoffs, is he on the Stafford plan? Is Kaepernick more valuable because of playoff success on a much better team?

Besides the $50 million that goes to Bradford, nothing in this world is guaranteed, including what Wilson's value will be in 2015 or 2016. However, it seems very likely that based on prior deals, that even just an above average Russell Wilson is going to get paid. The Wilson we expect to show up over the next two seasons is going to be paid a lot.

The Wilson of 2013 is going to be paid... less than any starting quarterback in the NFL.

Go Hawks?

Follow Kenneth on Twitter