So in old news, NFL quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers for $137.5 million, with about $74 million of that guaranteed. In the quarterback “free agency” market, Garoppolo was the most attractive option (pun intended) because of his age and ceiling. The 49ers decided to tie up a big chunk of their money to the quarterback they believe is going to be the key to their success because that’s what you’re “supposed to do.”
Eh. Who knows really. In the case of Garoppolo, he went 5-0 in the five games he played. He also threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions in those five games – but, for what it’s worth – the 49ers were convinced that was their guy to give this massive contract too.
For the record, I like Garoppolo and hold no ill-regard toward the 49ers organization. I really don’t care what they do, and if Garoppolo can get paid – props to him. This isn’t even about Garoppolo, it’s about the quarterback position and how ridiculous the pay-grade is for that position.
Everyone will tell you until they are blue in the face – you need a quarterback in today’s league. Sure. Who can argue that? The league has changed in ways that they want you to throw the ball more. What has over-paying a quarterback really gotten anybody though?
Ask the Detroit Lions, who paid “their guy” Matthew Stafford a five-year deal amounting up to about $27 million a year. That contract was given to him in August of 2017 and in July of 2017 Stafford’s record against winning teams was 5-46. That’s not a typo – FIVE and FORTY-SIX. Stafford has been the starting quarterback for the Lions since 2009 and they’ve had three playoff games with three playoff game losses. Sure he puts up great garbage time stats for fantasy football geeks – but all in all, it hasn’t worked.
Ask the Seattle Seahawks, who were loving life when they found a diamond in the rough who they drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft. Most teams don’t find their starting QB in the third round. They did. They rode it out – made him a star, he performed well and they even won a championship out of it. After 2014 and a new contract the Seahawks realized they needed to trim corners. They couldn’t keep offensive linemen, secondary players etc — and because of that, the team has suffered.
Ask the Baltimore Ravens, who were the greatest victim of the “okie-doke” as Joe Flacco played the best stretch of games in his life when he was nearly perfect on the Ravens playoff / Super Bowl run in 2012. Lucky for him he was in a contract year and the Ravens “HAD TO” keep their Super Bowl QB. So they paid him $120 million over the next six years. That $120 million has gotten them average to below average play from the QB position since then. (Side Note: It’s difficult to even watch Ravens games with him at quarterback).
There is a whole list of others – just look around the league. Eli, Cutler, Romo, Cam, Luck, Matty Ice, Dalton – all aren’t terrible – some are actually the reason for any success that their team has had – BUT – was the money that was tied into that position really worth it for the teams mentioned? Eli kept getting paid when he was past his prime, Cam might’ve already peaked – as well as Matty Ice and Luck. . .
Folks, we just saw a backup quarterback, who was nearly done with the game of football – win the Super Bowl. And for all things considered – the injured starter, Carson Wentz, probably would’ve had the same results and he is in the second year of his rookie contract.
General managers have collectively shown that they do not care for long contracts with running backs. . . and often with wide-receivers and cornerbacks they tell the player “test the market and come back to us.” With quarterbacks though, it’s always “What do you want? Here it is. Sign this.” (Unless you’re Kirk Cousins, of course)
Maybe I’m old fashioned but these games are always won in the trenches. If you are not stocking up an above average offensive line, or an above average defensive line, then what are you – as a G.M. really doing?
Nick Foles showed in the Super Bowl, if you’re a competent quarterback who is comfortable with the system you’re in – you should be fine — especially if the pieces around the offense have bought into the system. This is what you see every year from the Saints, Patriots, Kansas City and L.A. (Rams) – we also saw it for two of the three years with Kirk Cousins in Washington.
The truth is until a general manager and coach have the “you-know-whats” to tell a “star” quarterback “no” and that they believe in their system and finding a player who can run the system as effectively – these ridiculous contracts will never stop. Fans will complain and you’ll get killed by the talking-heads on sports television but financially it’s a great move if you really know your job. Finding a starting quarterback is hard – yes – but these quarterbacks have to realize how fortunate they are to find systems that are working for them. Look at “great” wide receivers, cornerbacks, running backs – even linebackers – who leave for a pay-day, find themselves in a system that doesn’t fit into their skill set and are released. What usually happens to those players? They look to find the system that got them that big money deal and try to prove they are still “great.”
Quarterbacks are special, but not special enough to hamper a team moving forward, financially.