- The Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams are set to dominate in the NFL for years to come, thanks in large part to the rookie contracts of their starting quarterbacks.
- With quarterbacks on relatively cheap deals, both teams have been able to invest in other positions and build teams that can compete with the best in the league.
The flexibility these contracts allow could be one of the factors driving so many teams to pursue quarterbacks at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The 2018 NFL Draft is set up to be one of the most compelling in recent memory, thanks in large part to the high-profile quarterback prospects set to enter the NFL.
Teams could draft a whopping six quarterbacks in the first round, and while their order has yet to be determined, the reason that they’re in such high demand is apparent — there is no asset in the NFL more valuable than a solid quarterback on a team-friendly contract.
Look no further than the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams as proof of how far a quarterback on a rookie contract can take a team. The Eagles are coming off their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, and while Carson Wentz wasn’t under center when they took home the Lombardi Trophy, his $7 million salary helped ensure that the team was stacked at other positions. That includes paying backup Nick Foles $5.5 million.
The Rams meanwhile have been one of the biggest spenders of the NFL offseason, bringing in Pro Bowl caliber talent including Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib to build out their roster. Those moves would likely not have been possible if not for having Jared Goff also locked up under a rookie deal.
It’s a model similar to that which helped the Seahawks make back-to-back Super Bowls just a few years ago, with Russell Wilson on the books at a discount and the Legion of Boom flourishing into the most dominant defensive unit in the league.
It also shows why so many teams are in a rush to find their next franchise quarterback.
Having an above-average quarterback on a rookie deal isn’t a one-way ticket to a championship though — teams also have to be smart about how they use the surplus that it provides. When the Cowboys cut Dez Bryant on Friday, one stat made its way around Twitter that showed just how brutally bad contracts can hold a team back.
Two of the Eagles’ most valuable assets on offense is costing the team less than their division rivals are getting penalized for two players that are no longer on their roster.
Tony Romo & Dez Bryant dead money in 2018: $16.9 million
Carson Wentz & Alshon Jeffery cap hit in 2018: $11.25 million
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) April 13, 2018
Quarterback is already the most critical position on the field, and teams desperately searching for the new face of their franchise in the draft is nothing new. But quarterbacks are also the highest-paid players in the league, with the market for quality quarterbacks seemingly being set higher and higher every year. This positional inflation has lead teams to realize that few things are as valuable to building a contender than a reliable quarterback on a rookie deal.
The Rams and Eagles will have some tough financial decisions to make when it comes time to extend their franchise quarterbacks, but for the next few years, they’ll both be in prime position to compete for the Super Bowl.