When the Seahawks made the decision to make their QB one of the highest paid players in the NFL immediate consequences for the talent on the roster were inevitable.
$87.6 million over four years with a $31 million signing bonus and $60 million in guaranteed money. A bit of a bump from the $1.54 million he was scheduled to make this year. At an average of roughly $35 million a year, the Wilson family is set.
Wilson gave the Seahawks a date of the opening of the offseason program to get his “extension” done. After declaring the artificial deadline, he made it clear he would not sign and would force his way to free agency if a deal did not materialize. A masterful stroke by his agent in my opinion.
However, by deciding to make their QB financially elite, the Seattle Seahawks have placed themselves squarely in the company of other teams whose QB’s average over $20 million a year. This is not good company to keep if your goal is to win a Lombardi championship. What these teams all have in common is regular season excellence followed by an early playoff exit, unless their QB gets hurt in which case they implode. It seems in the modern NFL when your QB eats up over 20% of the salary cap GM’s don’t have the cap space to surround the QB with enough talent to compete at the elite level. Examples? Though you would never ask. Let’s look at the current pay chart for the highest paid (by yearly average) signal callers in the NFL.
|Seahawks||Russell Wilson||$35 million|
|Steelers||Ben Roethlisberger||$34 million|
|Packers||Aaron Rodgers||$33.5 million|
|Falcons||Matt Ryan||$30 million|
|Vikings||Kirk Cousins||$28 million|
|49ers||Jimmy Garoppolo||$27.5 million|
|Lions||Matthew Stafford||$27 million|
|Raiders||Derek Carr||$25 million|
|Saints||Drew Brees||$25 million|
|Colts||Andrew Luck||$24.6 million|
|Redskins||Alex Smith||$23.5 million|
|Patriots||Tom Brady||$15 million|
The above numbers leave teams approx $3 million per player (avg) to pay players entering their second contract. To be frank, that is not “All-Pro” money. It isn’t even in the ballpark and teams who are in this situation will lose talent to teams that can afford to pay them. And if you have a second guy, say a RB or WR who is getting around $10 million a season your GM only has around $1.5 million per player to spread around. Some rookie contracts cost more than that.
The Seahawks were one and done in the playoffs last season, then could not afford to pay edge rusher Frank Clark and had to trade him to the Chiefs. Pittsburgh sent two All-Pros packing so they could pay their QB and the missed the postseason. The Packers have been bleeding talent for years and had a horrible season then had to part ways with OLB Nick Perry, WR Randall Cobb, and OLB Clay Mathews due to cap issues. The Vikings had to let OLB Barr go. The Lions lose a few key guys each offseason. The Raiders sent their all-world LB to the Bears and their All-Pro WR to the Cowboys. They got replacements in the draft that are “good” players. The Saints lose key guys every year, this time it was at RB. The Colts are on the upswing for now but hit hard cap waters this offseason. The Redskins QB will get paid while his replacement is on the field after being drafted in the first round.
There is no doubting the talent of the above list of QB’s. With them on the roster you are almost guaranteed a solid regular season. However, the teams all share an amazing lack of surrounding talent and depth that is easy to see once the playoffs hit in the ultimate team sport.
So I read pundits who are lauding the Raiders Gruden for “replacing” the departed players with cheaper, rookie talent. Yep. He filled the positions, however, he did not replace the talent he shipped out. There is a world of difference between a “good” player and an All-Pro.
There is nothing wrong with trading away a talented piece that doesn’t fit your clubs financial setup under the cap. But unless you have a sold team to pick up the slack and a plan on what to do next the “we will do great in the draft” wish is not one that has a solid return rate.
It’s a comforting thing having a true “elite” QB on your team’s roster. But you may as well get used to the ‘Tony Romo Championships” otherwise known as a winning record in the regular season. Because the Lombardi, the real championship, will go to a “team,” not a club with 52 players all sacrificing their salaries so they can have a god sling the rock.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over