This is the culture of the NFL that is constantly espoused by the likes of ex-players like Chris Carter and Mike Golic, continually entering fans and non-fans alike to a discussion of propriety, worth and relative greed. Certainly, it’s hard to say if any of us would react differently if placed in any of these players’ positions, at their ages, and after the amount of personal effort and sacrifice has been offered up. What is perhaps interesting within the new CBA is the question may be shifting from one of deserving nature to something more centered on personal responsibility, leadership and the team as a whole.
If a quarterback takes a monster salary, the expense is the remainder of the 53-man roster, and as the Baltimore Ravens will show us this next year, a quarterback alone cannot bring you back to the play-offs, let alone a Super Bowl.
As of the first of March 2013, of the nine teams that have been to a Super Bowl in the past five years, four were considerably over their respective salary cap (according to NFL.com), and two had $5M of cap space or less. The next on the list is Baltimore who came in at $9.9M under the cap, largely because of the recent heavy-sheading of their defensive free agents; it should be noted that they rode the cap the entirety of the season, closer than any other team in the NFL. Finally, only two teams, New England and Indianapolis, had more than $10M of breathing room, but both are somewhat anomalies. The Patriots have always only spent money on Tom Brady and are quietly more of the more miserly of the franchises in the NFL, relying heavily on a brand to lure players. The Colts are under as far as they are (-$43.1M) because of last years’ departure of Peyton Manning.
Of all nine teams, only two do not currently have quarterbacks signed to mega-deals – San Francisco and Indianapolis – both are rising favorites in the League and easily play-off caliber teams. Meanwhile, teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New Orleans, Green Bay and New York are losing their free agents because of salary caps issues, which creates glaring holes in their roster that they are unable to address, except through the Draft, which has now become the most economical way to bring players to a franchise. Of the teams noted above, only Green Bay is favored to make the play-offs next year, though they too are losing critical free agents.