Out of the remaining four teams in the NFL playoffs, three teams are quarterbacked by players that no one would consider elite with Tom Brady being the one exception. Blake Bortles, Nick Foles and Case Keenum each led their team to the conference championship round without their owners having to break the bank to roster them.
That begs the question, is it worth it for teams to sign quarterbacks to expensive contracts or should that money be spent elsewhere? Teams such as the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders have committed to their quarterbacks for a pretty penny, but is that the best formula for success?
On the fifth episode of The Debatable podcast, we discussed this issue:
Jimmy: When it comes to paying quarterbacks, where do you fall in this debate?
Peick: I think you absolutely have to pay quarterbacks. If you have a guy that you believe in, you have to keep him around. The quarterback position is the least expendable position in the league. You can have a backup running back do well after a starting running back gets hurt. Just look at Minnesota with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon after Dalvin Cook got hurt. The elite list of wide receivers is a much longer list than the elite list of quarterbacks. If you have a quarterback you believe in, you have to make sure he sticks around. If he leaves, you’re starting from zero.
Greco: It’s not that I would never pay a quarterback the max amount, but there is a very small list of players I would give that money to. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are two guys that come to mind. I can maybe make a case for Drew Brees.
J: Before you continue, those are three Hall of Fame quarterbacks you just spit out. So you would only give max deals to Hall of Fame quarterbacks?
G: When you put it that way in the case of those three, then yes. But I am talking about guys like Stafford, who has done all that he could on his own. However, has that led to results in not necessarily a Super Bowl, but being a competitive team year in and year out. While Rodgers is a guy that has proven he can win with the pieces around him, why you give a guy that much money in Stafford if the rest of the team is not built around him? How would you build that team around him when you now don’t have the allocation of funds.
P: I think there is an argument to signing your non-elite quarterbacks. Of the three elite quarterbacks (Rodgers, Brady, Brees), there are seven combined Super Bowl wins. If you include Peyton Manning in that list for the past 20 years, that’s nine rings. Of the second-tier guys, there are a number of Super Bowl winners and guys who have had success in the playoffs. Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco combine for six Super Bowls. Guys like Matt Ryan and Cam Newton both have Super Bowl appearances while it is believed Carson Wentz would have had success this season if it wasn’t for his season-ending injury. You have a chance to win with some of these second-tier guys, and I think it’s worth paying them.
J: If you are the Washington Redskins, do you sign Kirk Cousins. He was a guy that was tagged for a second year in a row this year earning him $24 million. If you’re the Redskins, do you resign Cousins and if so, are you keeping him in the top-10 in terms of salary among quarterbacks?
G: We can all agree they aren’t going to tag him again. In terms of talent, I think he is at the same level as Stafford. When you look at the Redskins as a whole, I think they are further back than the Lions as a whole. I don’t even know what the strength of the team is besides Cousins. If you’re going to pay him that much money and look at their recent success, you’re in purgatory if you resign him for a lot of money. But if you don’t and let him walk, you’re kind of in the same spot but maybe then you can allocate your money to add some difference makers elsewhere.
Listen to the podcast to hear the full debate.
(Main photo credit:Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)