Well, good luck to the Seahawks, Colts or Panthers trying to get their young quarterbacks signed to a somewhat reasonable extension now. That won't happen after Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton see what Andy Dalton just got from the Bengals.
You might want to sit down for this one. Dalton agreed to a six-year, $115 million extension from the Bengals, according to ESPN. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported later that the true value is $96 million, with escalators tied to performance that can push it to $115 million max value. That's still a lot for a quarterback who some thought would have been on the hot seat if he didn't have a good 2014, considering his inconsistency and 0-3 playoff record.
Jay Cutler's contract with the Bears, for $126.7 million over seven years after making all of one Pro Bowl in his career, really was the sign that the quarterback market was ruined. Dalton's deal has reinforced that the market is out of control. Teams get crippled by fear of the unknown at quarterback. There's no way Dalton, whom I defend regularly because people have ignored the good things he has done (and he has done some good things), could be worth more than $19 million per year. But teams like the Bengals would rather pay Dalton two or three times what he's worth than deal with the criticism that would come if they let him go and couldn't replace him immediately. It sounds like a dumb business model, but NFL teams routinely do it. The quarterback market for the non-stars at the position is the most inefficient in sports. And it affects other teams.
Wilson, Luck, Newton and other young quarterbacks like Washington's Robert Griffin III probably have to start the bidding at $25 million per year if Dalton got what he did, right? Dalton has put up 11,360 yards and 80 touchdowns while taking the Bengals to the playoffs in all three of his seasons. He has seen his interceptions rise each season since his rookie year. He threw 20 of them last year and is routinely criticized for his arm strength limitations and his failures in the playoffs.
Not even his strongest backers would confuse Dalton for a top-tier quarterback. And he just signed an extension that could be worth $115 million, which is $5 million more than Aaron Rodgers got (Rodgers got that over five years; Dalton got six).
The Bengals got their quarterback locked up for a while. Whether that's good remains to be seen. And general managers around the league are pounding their fists on their desks today.
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