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Romo, Cutler Contracts Make Playoffs Harder To Reach

Jeff Cavanaugh for 105.3 The Fan | CBSDFW.COM
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(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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Tony Romo’s contract isn’t good for the Cowboys. Jay Cutler’s new one with the Bears is even worse.  Reportedly over $120 million for seven years.

That doesn’t mean that either team shouldn’t have signed them, but this year’s playoffs illustrate quite well a theory that’s been banging around in my brain for a while.

If you have a transcendent QB that can carry your team to double digit wins (when healthy) pretty much every year, you can pay him whatever you like.  To me there are only four guys that fall into that category:  Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees (missed the playoffs last year, but didn’t have his head coach) and Aaron Rodgers (would have won double digits again this year if not for injury).

Their contracts in the simplest form are below with just the years and total value according to spotrac.com

Manning:  5 years, $96 million.  

Brady:  5 years, $70 million.

Brees  5 years, $100 million.

Rodgers:  7 years, $130 million.

If you are one of those unfortunate teams that doesn’t have a “carry the team” sort of QB, and there’s 28 of them in the NFL according to my calculations, paying your QB massive money makes it really hard to make the postseason with regularity.

The other teams that made the postseason this year paint the picture.  Here are the teams, QB’s, and contracts of said QB’s.

Bengals:  Andy Dalton:  4 years, $5.22 million

Colts:  Andrew Luck:  4 years, $22 million

Chiefs:  Alex Smith:  3 years, $25 million

Chargers:  Philip Rivers:  7 years, $98 million

Eagles:  Nick Foles:  4 years, $2.7 million

Panthers:  Cam Newton:  4 years, $22 million

Seahawks:  Russell Wilson:  4 years, $3 million

49ers:  Colin Kaepernick:  4 years, $5 million

Philip Rivers is the one outlier to my theory, and his team just snuck in and is a very long shot to do in damage in the postseason.

The rest of these guys are young, haven’t reached that second NFL contract where the big money comes in, and therefore their teams have the money to surround them with more talent than teams who are paying their very good guys on their second contract the big dollars.

I don’t think I’ll be breaking news with this statement, but obviously in a world with salary cap, investing huge money into a single player, even at the most important position on the field, means you don’t have as much money to invest in the rest of the team.

The Ravens won the Super Bowl last year, with a QB that was in the final year of a 5 year, 30 million dollar deal.  They committed huge money to him this offseason, and they aren’t in the postseason.

In the case of the Cowboys, I don’t begrudge them for paying Romo big money because that’s the world we live in.  If you let a very good QB hit the open market, he’ll pull in at least that much money.  That doesn’t mean it’s conducive to winning football.  Especially for the Cowboys.  They’re notorious for restructuring contracts every offseason to sneak under the salary cap and try and add guys, but it’s constantly guaranteeing more money to guys as they get older, and they constantly have to battle “dead money” on their cap.  It’s just hard to surround him with enough talent because of poor cap management, poor asset management, and the huge amount of money committed to him.

Jay Cutler I think will prove to be the same thing.

Winning in the NFL is hard, but I’m starting to think the one way NOT to do it, is to pay big money to a very good, but not elite QB.

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