NFL econ: How QB resources are allocated

March, 27, 2013
3/27/13
5:05
PM ET

A few thoughts in relation to how much 2013 salary-cap space NFL teams have committed to quarterbacks currently on their rosters:
  • Arizona Cardinals: The figure is a very manageable $4.9 million, but that doesn't count the $6 million in charges remaining from Kevin Kolb's terminated contract. The Cardinals would want to keep in mind the Kolb-related charges when determining how much to pay a veteran quarterback, should the team seek to add one.
  • St. Louis Rams: Having Sam Bradford signed under the previous labor agreement is costing the Rams much more than other teams are paying for highly drafted quarterbacks selected more recently. However, the Rams like Bradford, and if you're going to overpay for a position, quarterback isn't a bad one to single out.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Great situation. No team has less cap money tied up in quarterbacks. The deals for Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien count less than one-third what Kolb's contract is counting against the Cardinals' cap. Trading backup quarterback Alex Smith saved the 49ers more than $8 million in cap charges this year. The second-round choice San Francisco received in return for Smith will allow the 49ers to add a young, talented player at low cost.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Teams value players individually. They also budget for positions. The Seahawks can feel OK about Matt Flynn's salary, which is on the high side for backup quarterbacks, because Russell Wilson earns far less than most starters. Seattle is allocating $7,931,085 in 2013 cap space for quarterbacks, below the $11,271,900 average for NFL teams. So, while removing Flynn from the equation would make sense in some ways, his contract can fit in the bigger picture.
  • Brady situation:The contract for New England's Tom Brady contains $57 million in guaranteed money, most in the NFL. But because Brady was willing to push much of the guaranteed money into later years, his deal counts a relatively manageable $13.8 million against the cap this year. That is how the Patriots rank only 10th among teams in 2013 cap space allocated for quarterbacks.
  • Idzik's challenge: The New York Jets' situation at quarterback might be the worst in the NFL from a financial standpoint. Mark Sanchez has significant guaranteed money in his contract. As a result, the Jets rank sixth in cap space for quarterbacks after ranking 31st in Total QBR and 30th in NFL passer rating last season. The team hired John Idzik from the Seahawks to fix the cap mess and help rebuild the roster, but options are limited in the short term.
  • Structure key: The Baltimore Ravens rank only 24th in 2013 cap space for quarterbacks despite recently re-signing Joe Flacco to a big-money extension. The big cap charges are coming due in the future. The 49ers and Seahawks will eventually have to reward their young quarterbacks with richer deals. When that time comes, they'll have the option of structuring the contract to avoid large first-year charges.

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