The Cardinals made their future at the QB position clear when they rewarded Carson Palmer with a 3 year $49.5M extension a month ago. 5 days after the Super Bowl, Palmer’s $1M salary and $9.5M roster bonus become fully guaranteed for 2015, supplanting his role for the coming season. However, 5 days into the 2016 league year Palmer’s 2016 AND 2017 base salaries fully guaranteed, a total of $14.5M cash. Should the Cardinals need to cut ties at this point, they’ll incur only $6M in dead cap for doing so.
Subsequently, Drew Stanton‘s 3 year contract expires after the 2015 season, meaning the Cardinals may be in line for an overhaul following next year (though a strong finish to 2014 from Stanton could make him eligible for an extension).
Year two of Matt Ryan‘s mega-extension paid him $21M cash, the most he’ll earn throughout the deal. Ryan carries a whopping $33.9M dead cap hit in 2015 (split $15.5M/$18.4M if cut post June 1st). Ryan’s guaranteed money ends after the 2015 season, but his dead money doesn’t drop to a feasible number until 2017 ($10.4M).
There isn’t much to discuss on the backup side here, with T.J. Yates‘ contract expiring after 2014, leaving 2nd year 7th round pick Sean Renfree as the only contracted option.
Joe Flacco has one of the more stable situations across the league. His contract contains dead cap figures of $36.4M, $25.85M, and $15.3M from 2015-17 respectively. And Tyrod Taylor, the only other contracted QB on the roster, is set to be a free agent after this season.
The Ravens get a bit of a break in 2015 with Flacco’s cap figure actually dropping down to $14.55M. But the relief is short, as that number soars to $28.55M & $31.15M in 2016 & 2017.
The Bills have uncertainty at the QB position (what else is new) heading into 2015, with veteran Kyle Orton set to earn around $5.5M ($7M cap), and 2013 first round pick E.J. Manuel fully guaranteed through 2016. The Bills are trending toward the scenario the Minnesota Vikings found themselves in, when Christian Ponder’s poor play gave way to veteran Matt Cassell, who eventually lost the job to their next pick draft pick in Teddy Bridgewater.
While it’s not likely, the Bills would incur a $2.42M cap charge by trading Manuel this offseason, clearing his $1.2M salary for 2015, and $1.6M in 2016.
A month ago we were talking about Cam Newton as the next $100M+ QB in the league. While that’s not off the table, the Panthers as a whole have taken a turn for the worse in 2014. The poor results could lead to Newton playing out his 5th year option ($14,666,666) in 2015. From there the Panthers will have the option to put together the blockbuster extension, or slap a hefty franchise tag on their quarterback.
Behind Cam, veteran backup Derek Anderson is signed through 2015 at a $1.464M cap ($1.26M cash).
11 months after signing a $126.7M extension to stay in Chicago, the cries for change have already begun. Unfortunately it’s not that easy financially speaking. Jay Cutler‘s entire $15.5M 2015 salary is already fully guaranteed, and $10M of his 2016 salary guarantees in March of 2015. Add in $4M in unallocated restructured money, and he’ll carry a $29.5M dead cap figure once March comes. The first feasible window to release Cutler would come in February of 2016, when only $13M of dead cap exists. It should also be noted that the should the Bears find a trade partner after this season, only $4M would hit their 2015 cap, with the rest of the guaranteed money transferring to the new team.
Similar to the situation in Chicago, Bengals fans are already uneasy with the 6 years $96M extension awarded to Andy Dalton this offseason. While it won’t happen, should the Bengals part ways with Dalton this offseason, they’ll incur $13.6M in dead cap (split $6.4M in 2014 and $7.2M in 2015 if post 6/1). It’s not a huge number, but it’s not a likely transaction either. Current backup Jason Campbell is on a 1 year deal and will likely test the open market this offseason, while newly drafted A.J. McCarron has yet to make it off the Reserve/PUP list (shoulder).
Maybe the most polarizing franchise in terms of the QB position, Cleveland’s current starter, Brian Hoyer, will see his 2 year $1.965M contract expire after the season. Hoyer has the Browns in the playoff mix, and strong play could earn him an extension with the team. On his heels remains Johnny Manziel, the #22 pick in this past draft. Manziels’ 2015 and 2016 salaries are both fully guaranteed.
34 year old Tony Romo has $79.5M remaining on his deal (through 2019), but as of today, only $7.5M of that cash is fully guaranteed. Another $7.5M kicks in next March, to go along with $29.9M in unallocated bonus money. In total, Romo will be carrying $44.9M in dead cap into the 2015 season. Talk about job security? From there the figure drops to $19.1M in 2016, and $10M in 2017.
His backup, Brandon Weeden holds a $660,000 salary in 2015, the final year of his contract.
Peyton Manning carries $19M salaries in oth 2015 and 2016, each which fully guarantees should he remain on the roster at the previous year’s end. It’s possible he’s asked to restructure this offseason in order to make room for their laundry list of pending free agents.
Behind him, Brock Osweiler has just one more year remaining on his rookie deal. He’s thrown 26 passes in nearly three NFL seasons.
The Lions are nearly out of the weeds with the mess that was Matthew Stafford‘s rookie contract (two massive restructures, a huge option bonus, etc…). $8M of his $9.5M 2015 salary is already fully guaranteed. Throw in $19.2M in unallocated bonus cap, and Stafford carries $27.2M in dead cap next season. This figure drops to a manageable $11M in 2016, and just $5.5M in 2017, meaning the opportunity to shift this deal (restructure, trade, release) becomes much more feasible.
Long-time backup Dan Orlovsky is playing out a one year deal in 2014, and may be brought back if the Lions don’t feel like Kellen Moore can hold down the role.
Aaron Rodgers has nearly $80M remaining through 2019, structured in a VERY team-friendly manner (gradually increasing cap figure from $18.25M to $21.1M). His guaranteed money will deplete after his $10.1M roster bonus is paid next February, meaning Green Bay is on the hook for unallocated bonus money only from 2016+.
Both Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien are set to hit the open market after 2014, meaning Green Bay will need to make call on how to properly backup Rodgers going forward.
Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick can’t seem to keep a starting role long-term, despite flashses of above average production. He’s signed through 2015 with a $3.875M cap, and should be safe regardless of the Texans plans elsewhere.
Recently acquired, and quickly injured, Ryan Mallett is set to hit the open market after 2014, leaving 4th round draft pick Tom Savage as the incumbent backup to Fitzpatrick.
The Colts have the ability to exercise a 5th year option for Andrew Luck, but it’s much more likely that a long-term deal is forthcoming. We valued Luck at more than $19M per year a few months back.
Of equal importance is the expiring contract of Matt Hasselbeck, who at 39 years old may no longer be a viable emergency option for the Colts. They’ll be pressed to find a backup plan for 2015.
Blake Bortles, the #3 overall pick, has a fully guaranteed $20.6M contract through 2017, and a 5th year option eligible for 2018. In winning the job, Bortles also eliminated the chance for Chad Henne to reach his plethora of escalators this season, meaning his 2015 salary cap hit will be a doable $3.5M. The Jaguars appear to be in good shape heading into next season.
The Chiefs decided in favor of making Alex Smith their “long-term” solution by extending him out 6 years, $96M this past August. On the 3rd league day of 2015, Smith’s $11.9M 2015 salary, and $14.1M 2016 salary become fully guaranteed, meaning $40.4M in dead cap. This figure drops to $24.9M in 2016, meaning the Chiefs are likely sticking with Smith for at least two more seasons (barring a trade).
With a $4.8M cap figure, current backup QB Chase Daniel may be in danger of losing is job this offseason. 5th round draft pick Aaron Murray and undrafted Tyler Bray are both under contract in 2015.
Ryan Tannehill is rounding into one of the better QBs in the league. He’ll become extension eligible this offseason, but the Dolphins may not be ready to bite on that just yet. He’ll count just north of $4M against the cap in 2015.
Long-time backup Matt Moore has earned nearly $17M for his secondary role since 2011, but is set to hit the open market this offseason.
The emergence of Teddy Bridgewater is just what the doctor ordered in Minnesota, whose contract contains cap hits of $1.55M, $1.8M, and $2.1M through 2017. Veteran Matt Cassel is owed a $500,000 roster bonus on the 7th day of 2015, but with a $4.75M cap figure, his job is in danger. He’ll likely be asked to restructure should the Vikings look to keep him on in a backup role.
With cap hits of $13M, $14M, and $15M from 2015-2017, Tom Brady continues to give his organization room to stay competitive. He’s set to earn just $24M cash over those three seasons, all of which becomes fully guaranteed at the end of 2014.
This tends to not bode well for backup Jimmy Garoppolo, whose $3.4M rookie contract also expires after the 2017 season.
The Saints have plenty of cap issues on the table, but they start with the eye-popping figures for Drew Brees over the next two seasons. Brees is set to count $26.4M in 2015, and $27.4M in 2016. It’s likely that a good portion of Brees’ $18.75M 2015 salary is restructured this offseason, meaning more dead cap in future years.
Current backup QB Luke McCown was signed at the veteran’s minimum last March, and might be asked to do so again next March as well.
It’s not fair to place the weight of the demise of the Giants on Eli Manning entirely, but it’s safe to say he hasn’t played very good football in the past two seasons. The 33 year old will enter the final year of his contract in 2015, carrying a cap figure of $19.75M, and only $2.25M in dead cap. While an outright release isn’t likely, it’s possible the Giants look for a trade parter this offseason.
With that being said, New York has done little to find a reputable backup plan for Eli in recent years. Currently Ryan Nassib, their 4th round selection in 2013, holds the role. While his contract runs through 2016, he’s done little to show he can compete for the starting role any time soon.
The Jets were REALLY hoping Geno Smith would breakout in 2014, answering all the questions and concerns about his role as the franchise QB going forward. But injuries, benchings, and extremely poor play has the Jets back to square one heading into the final few weeks of the season. His dead money currently consists of $1.01M in unallocated signing bonus, so the Jets won’t carry too much financially should they start from scratch in 2015.
Michael Vick has had plenty of chances to win the starting role away from Smith in 2014, but hasn’t capitalized. At 34 years old, he’ll be looking for a veteran minimum deal as a backup(somewhere) in 2015.
The Raiders paid Matt Schaub $8M in 2014 to win the starting role going forward. He gave way to Derek Carr after just two games and with a $5.5M cap hit in 2015, likely will be looking elsewhere this summer.
Talk about an interesting situation. Entering 2014, Nick Foles was one of the quarterbacks trending way up. Insert Mark Sanchez and the entire narrative is in flux now. Luckily (maybe for both?), Sanchez’ contract expires after 2014, meaning he’s heading toward another nice contract from someone. Foles carries an $815,880 cap in 2015, the final year of his rookie contract.
Ben Roethlisberger‘s 6 year extension is set to expire after 2015, and the 32 year old has been vocal about his discomfort with that. It’s likely the two sides hit the negotiating table this offseason. Big Ben’s backup, Bruce Gradkowski, is signed through 2015 with a reasonable $1.833 million cap figure.
Like Eli and Big Ben, Philip Rivers 6 year extension is set to expire after the 2015 season. He’s still a Top 10 rated QB, and at 32 years old shouldn’t have a problem getting another 5+ years from the Chargers. Journeyman backup Kellen Clemens signed a 2 year deal this offseason and should remain the backup in San Diego with a $1.8M cap figure.
As per usual with the 49ers major contracts, Colin Kaepernick‘s 6 year $114M extension is a “pay-as-you-go” structure. He should have no trouble seeing this contract through the 2016 season. An increase in cap to $21.3M in 2017 may become a question mark depending on his production.
The 49ers do not have a backup option in place for 2015, as both Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson are set to hit the market.
At some point Russell Wilson‘s going to need to make some money in the NFL. Another strong postseason run in 2014 should all but supplant a long-term extension this coming offseason. There are currently 40 2015 QBs with a cap hit higher than Wilson’s $953,519.
Like the 49ers, Seattle has no backup under contract for 2015, as Tarvaris Jackson will become a free agent.
For the 2nd straight season, former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford will finish the season on the injured reserve list. His $16.58M cap hit for 2015 should have been reasonable, but average production and multiple injuries make this a HUGE question mark for the Rams. The problem? St. Louis has done nothing to backfill the position over the past few seasons.
Veteran backup Shaun Hill has playing adequately in 2014, and can probably be signed for near the veteran’s minimum in 2015. Austin Davis was all the rage early on this season, and might be brought back on a restricted tender in 2015 as well. While the Rams will most certainly use a draft pick on a QB in the upcoming draft, it’s leaning toward likely that Bradford gets a chance to win back this starting role and play out his contract in full.
Tampa Bay brought in Josh McCown to add a veteran stability to a young sporadic bunch. But injuries and a lack of production have limited McCown’s role in 2014, and Mike Glennon did little to advance his place for the future. McCown carries a $5.25M cap figure for 2015, which might prove to be too rich at the end of the day.
Jake Locker‘s tenure in Tennessee may be coming to a close, as his $12.5M contract expires after the 2014 season. His starting job has also given way to Zach Mettenberger, whose 6th round contract could be a huge value should he pan out. Current 3rd-string QB Charlie Whitehurst carries a $2.75M cap figure for 2015, meaning the Titans could be set with Zach/Charlie going forward.
It’s been widely reported that the Robert Griffin III tenure in Washington is all but finished. His $3,269,877 2015 salary is fully guaranteed, but the Redskins would only eat $3,449,836 in dead cap (unallocated signing bonus) should they find a partner to trade with this offseason. Washington gets another year from Kirk Cousins ($778,112 cap), and could bring back Colt McCoy on a deal close to the veteran’s minimum (again) to compete for the starting role next year.