Maybe you’ve heard the expression. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.
The NFL version has a slight twist.
Quarterbacks get paid and … end of story.
Team president Bruce Allen last month insulted everyone’s intelligence – including his QB – by insisting that Washington offered Kirk Cousins “the highest fully guaranteed amount upon signing for a quarterback in NFL history ($53 million). Allen went on say the terms Cousins rejected “would have made him at least the second highest-paid player by average per year in NFL history.”
Allen’s statement wasn’t simply in poor taste, revealing specifics of a failed negotiation for a player still under contract. It was misleading, too, passing off money already committed to Cousins as part of the $53 million. Essentially, the Skins gave him an opportunity to sign for significantly less than he’ll likely command next year. What a deal!
Elsewhere, quarterback Matthew Stafford signed a five-year extension to remain with the Lions and Derek Carr re-upped for five years with the Raiders.
Your team is officially pathetic when Detroit and Oakland provide better examples of how to conduct business.
The price for QBs continues to rise while opinions of the Skins’ judgment continue to plummet. Carr became the highest-paid player in NFL history in June, holding the title all the way until Monday, when Stafford supplanted him. It won’t be long before Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers reclaims the mantel. He was the league’s highest-paid player when he signed a $110 million extension in 2013 but has fallen to seventh among QBs in average annual salary ($22 million).
Neither Stafford, nor Carr, nor Cousins is in Rodgers’ class as a player. But that’s irrelevant under center.
Good-to-great QBs receive great-to-stupendous contracts, period. The market has been set and there’s no getting around it. Like Cousins, Stafford isn’t driven by dollars but he’s not trying to pass them up, either.
“I work extremely hard no matter what my salary is for the year or anything like that,” he told reporters Monday. “It’s just part of what comes with the position of playing quarterback in this league and playing it at a high level, and that’s what I strive to do. And I don’t do that for anything other than the guys in the locker room, the coaching staff that puts in all the hard work to get us ready to play and my teammates. Obviously, couldn’t have gotten to this point without a lot of help from all those guys.”
Yes, quarterbacks get too much blame and too much credit. No, it’s not fair to judge them solely by statistics and the team’s won-loss record. Yes, the contracts we’re seeing are mind-boggling. No, not every decision will be as terrible as Houston’s ($72 million for Brock Osweiler), or as terrific as New England’s (sixth-round pick for Tom Brady).
But trying to scrimp and get by with low-ceiling youngsters, journeymen or proven (inadequate) veterans is no way to compete for a championship.
Only a handful of teams have defenses/special teams so stellar that their quarterback can be a passenger along the way. When you find a live signal caller you must be willing to open the wallet and pay. Allen said that’s what he wanted to do with Cousins.
But the front office’s actions told a different story. We never saw the kind of effort like, say, the Lions exhibited in their bid to lock up Stafford. The Skins had two offseasons to get the job done. Detroit signed its man in six months after first broaching the idea in February.
“I think I told Matt I wanted to get it done the first time we talked about it,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn told reporters. “But I knew it takes time It’s a lot of back and forth, it’s a lot of conversations, a lot of emails, a lot of text messages. It’s a lot of work.”
A lot of work that led to a lot of loot for Stafford.
He isn’t the league’s best but he’s the best option for the Lions, just like No. 8 is for the Skins. Cousins has the good fortune to also be the best option for a handful of QB-starved teams next year. He’s in the rare position of hitting the open market just as he reaches his prime and salaries soar.
Rodgers, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and New Orleans’ Drew Brees are approaching the moment when they’ll pull up alongside Cousins at the feeding trough. The Skins might be in denial, but the NFL expression rings true.
Quarterbacks get paid.
Teams that refuse to pay get slaughtered.
— Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.