Quarterbacks by Committee : The New NFL?

Quarterbacks by Committee : The New NFL?
2012 NFL Quarterbacks by Committee

2012 NFL Quarterbacks by Committee

The recent surges by the Redskins and Seahawks (most notably) brings to light the discussion of modern day team-building. The running back positions has already seen a major shift in recent years as teams are choosing to reduce the load of a “featured” tailback with two or even three regular rushing weapons. While many teams (outside of the Jets) won’t commit to taking this approach with the quarterback position, it’s a fair to assume that those in need of a young quarterback won’t just take a chance on “one guy”.

The Redskins were the most exaggerated example of this methodology, drafting RGIII #2 overall, and Kirk Cousins #102 overall in the 2012 draft - to compete with the current QB Rex Grossman who was resigned for 2012 as well.

The Seahawks took a different approach to a similar mindset, signing free agent QB Matt Flynn to a 3 year $19 million deal in March, then drafting Russell Wilson #75 overall, all with Tavaris Jackson under contract (eventually traded to the Bills late in the offseason).

This concept of bringing more than one quarterback into the fold has become extremely doable with the rookie salary cap now in place. It’s a threatening stance for B level talented veterans in the league, who are watching young quarterbacks dominate in 2012 at minimum salaries. This kind of success at low-cost may eventually drive an NHL Goaltending conundrum into NFL franchise decisions - simply put, is it worth paying veteran star money when the younger cheaper players are just as effective?

Let’s take a look at a list of how NFL teams are paying active quarterbacks in 2012:
Team Quarterback Financial Breakdown
Team Active Quarterbacks Cap Hit Sum Avg./QB
Arizona Cardinals Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley,Brian Hoyer $6,055,489 $1,513,872
Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan, Luke McCown, Dominique Davis $14,205,000 $4,735,000
Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor $8,491,327 $4,245,664
Buffalo Bills Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyler Thigpen, Tavaris Jackson $10,500,000 $3,500,000
Carolina Panthers Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Jimmy Clausen $6,645,659 $2,215,220
Chicago Bears Jay Cutler, Jason Campbell, Josh McCown $13,640,000 $4,546,667
Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton, Bruce Gradkowski $3,185,045 $1,592,523
Cleveland Browns Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy $2,197,250 $1,098,626
Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo, Kyle Orton $10,626,500 $5,313,250
Denver Broncos Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, Calbe Hanie $19,639,396 $6,546,465
Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford, Shaun Hill, Kellen Moore $11,576,250 $3,858,750
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell $9,540,000 $4,770,001
Houston Texans Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates $12,211,250 $6,105,625
Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck, Drew Stanton $5,240,000 $2,620,000
Jacksonville Jaguars Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Jordan Palmer $5,597,449 $1,865,816
Kansas City Chiefs Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Ricky Stanzi $9,603,763 $3,201,254
Miami Dolphins Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, Pat Delvin $5,442,500 $1,814,167
Minnesota Vikings Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Mcleod Bethel-Thompson $3,214,423 $1,071,474
New England Patriots Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett $8,669,961 $4,334,981
New Orleans Saints Drew Brees, Chase Daniel $11,400,000 $5,700,000
New York Giants Eli Manning, David Carr $10,590,000 $5,295,000
New York Jets Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy $12,331,913 $4,110,638
Oakland Raiders Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Terrelle Pryor $6,027,667 $2,009,222
Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles, Michael Vick, Trent Edwards $14,965,812 $4,988,604
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch $11,040,000 $3,680,000
San Diego Chargers Phillip Rivers, Charlie Whitehurst $16,560,000 $8,280,000
San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith, Scott Tolzien $11,133,776 $3,711,259
Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn $4,544,850 $2,272,425
St. Louis Rams Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis $16,515,000 $5,505,000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Josh Freeman, Dan Orlovsky $8,915,000 $4,457,500
Tennessee Titans Jake Locker, Matt Hasselbeck, Rusty Smith $10,929,011 $3,643,004
Washington Redskins Robert Griffin, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman $5,648,008 $1,882,669

No team spends more on quartberbacks than Denver, who put their chips into a risky Peyton Manning and have been rewarded graciously.

On the contrary, the Chargers hold the top ranking in average dollar per quarterback - having put their cards into a disappointing Phillip Rivers. The Eagles hold a similar position with their swing and a miss on Michael Vick. Those teams that do have established leaders (Patriots, Saints, Giants) offset the cost to pay for elite by not carrying a 3rd active quarterback (and heavily restructuring in many cases).

It's easy to see the financial change the rookie salary cap his done in transforming how teams are building their quarterback position. The Rams drafted Bradford as a #1 pick prior to the rookie ceiling, and thus own the #2 ranking in total quarterback compensation ($16.5M). The Redskins are currently paying 1/3 of that ($5.6M) for all three of their seemingly successful quarterbacks. The dropoff is so steep that teams maybe choose moreso to draw two from the draft rather than take a risk on a "maybe" superstar veteran (Flacco, Alex Smith, etc..).

View the full list of Top NFL Salaries & Cap Hits