Most people that have been keeping up with the NFL in the past couple of years have seen the rise of the mediocre quarterback.
First, let me describe how one becomes "mediocre":
These QB's are strong enough to be considered a starter on a team who lacks a superior athlete with great arm talent and strong leadership skills (think: Brady and Rodgers), but are not good enough to be in the conversation of "the greatest to ever play." While most of these quarterbacks will make it to the Hall of Fame in Canton (let's be honest: it isn't that difficult to get into anymore), they will be seldom remembered in years to come.
The problem with these quarterbacks is that they have their moments of brilliance, then everyone overreacts and the following season they get paid way more than they are worth, which is positive for them, but makes the truly elite quarterbacks appear simply "decent" in terms of pay.
For example, this off-season the former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins signed a hefty three-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Vikings. At the time, he became the second-highest paid QB in the NFL after Falcon's quarterback Matt Ryan — a man who has had his moment but isn't considered "elite."
When looking over the salaries of quarterbacks in the NFL, a few stand out to me.
For instance, the five highest paid QB's are Rodgers, Ryan, Cousins, the 49er's Jimmy Garoppolo (who just suffered a torn ACL), and Matt Stafford of the Detroit Lions.
Notice that Brady (16th), Ben Roethlisberger (12th), Drew Brees (7th), and Russell Wilson (11th) are not on that list. In fact, Brady gets paid about the same amount as Sam Bradford or Cam Newton, both of whom are not the most consistent when it comes to staying healthy or playing to their potential.
Now, it has been made clear that Brady took a pay cut in order to surround himself with better players, which is beneficial in terms of win percentage.
However, there is no way that any of the aforementioned quarterbacks, with the exception of Rodgers, should be paid even close to the amount of Brady.
The media plays a big part in these over-exaggerated contracts going to undeserving quarterbacks. You see, the media reports stories that generate the most buzz so that their brand gets more attention. Therefore, the stories that break are on "sexy" topics such as unbelievable game stats or David and Goliath stories, where consistent quarterbacks are completely disregarded.
Due to this, the buzz is always around someone that has their great moments, i.e. Cousins and Garoppolo, but isn't necessarily that great of a quarterback. For example, "Jimmy G," as he is lovably known by, was 5-0 as a starter upon the beginning of the 2018-19 NFL season, but most don't look into the teams he actually beat which are Chicago, Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the Los Angeles Rams.
The first four, at the time, were considered bottom-half teams, with Jacksonville being considered "sneaky good." But what needs to be kept in mind is that the Rams benched Jared Goff, Tod Gurley, and Aaron Donald. Of course, he will beat a team that's being run by Sean Mannion, a man no one has ever heard of unless you're related to him or went to Oregon State.
Keeping those facts in mind, has he really proved to be worth $27.5M ($9.74m guaranteed) a year? I think not.
Another important factor to mention is the combined 13 playoff wins by the five highest-paid quarterbacks, which sounds decent but nine of these wins are contributed by Rodgers with the rest being rewarded to Ryan.
Stafford has gone with any wins with three appearances in nine seasons with the Lions, granted he played three games in 2010 due to injury, so make that three appearances in eight seasons which isn't that impressive.
We can let Garoppolo off the hook for this stat since this season is his first as a franchise quarterback, but it's safe to say he won't be leading the 49ers to a playoff this season. He did, as the backup to Brady, win two Super Bowls as an active member on the squad, which gives him some experience in the processes of a championship team.
That leaves Cousins, who only had two appearances (one start) in the playoffs with the Washington Redskins. His first appearance came as a backup to Robert Griffin III in 2012, where he was thrown in the fourth quarter after Griffin injured himself. His second appearance came in his first season as a true starter for the Redskins in 2015, when they lost to the Green Bay Packers. That leaves him at 0-1 as a starter in three seasons.
While these examples took place in the past offseasons, there are many others that could be brought to attention (think: Brock Osweiler's deal with the Texans in 2016). Not only do these quarterbacks not live up to their potential or price tag, but they also take money away from the salary cap that could be spent on other players.
When looking at the other positions, a player considered "better than average" makes only around $10m ($3m guaranteed) a year (on average). The amount they get after incentives is barely the amount Garoppolo gets in guaranteed money per year. Most of the time, the players don't even achieve said incentives, which tend to be unreachable at best. Most believe that the solution to this age-old problem is to extend the salary cap for all teams when restructuring hopeful contracts are the best options.
The reality is that most players are too self-involved and won't consider a pay cut in order to help the team in the long run (unless you're Brady).
So please NFL, stop giving undeserving quarterbacks monster deals after a string of positive starts. Unless this string lasts all season, give them another year, and re-evaluate. Not everyone will be a Brady, Rodgers, or Peyton Manning (sorry Eli). Wait until they are proven worthy and have the stats to back up their proposed salary.
While this will result in unhappy quarterbacks, it'll redistribute the wealth to other positions where it is absolutely needed. And, let's be honest, quarterbacks need their egos to be hurt once in a while to keep them grounded and focused rather than pompous and spoiled.
In the end, it'll make them a better quarterback and will even provide them with the tools needed to reconstruct their contract to their liking, given they have the appropriate stats. If there is one thing to take away from this glorified rant of an article, take this: don't be greedy and work for your money, as it'll all work out in the long run.