One of the subtleties of being a writer or podcaster or blogger or whatever it is that I claim to be is trying to come up with ways of explaining something in a way that has not been done before.
It is easy to explain things in terms people know and understand, but to make a point stick, you need to come up with something new and different.
One of the phrases I have coined is the quarterback tax.
You pay it coming or going, but it always gets you.
When you extend a young quarterback, it typically creates a shockwave and the buzzword, biggest contract in NFL history.
That was the case with Jimmy Garoppolo’s newest contract with the San Francisco 49ers.
Kirk Cousins is likely to break that, maybe with the Arizona Cardinals, and Drew Brees could break Cousins mark going back to the New Orleans Saints.
It is always the last contract that gets the “biggest” label.
Yet, all these big contracts have one thing in common... The player is not going to be worth it. Now, this isn’t to say that Brees won’t play well enough for his two year $60 million salary he is likely to get from the Saints, but is he going to be the best quarterback in the NFL? No, he won’t be. That’ll be Aaron Rodgers or Carson Wentz or the ageless Tom Brady.
Yet, the Saints have to pay the tax because without Brees, they are not a contender.
Look at the Redskins trade for Kirk Cousins. They basically gave up a third round pick and Budda Baker (in corner Kyle Fuller), then gave Smith the fifth highest contract in the NFL on a per year basis (until Cousins and Brees get paid). Is Smith really worth that?
Is Cousins worth the $28-30 million he will get in free agency? In short, no.
Will the team that pays Cousins regret it? No, because Cousins has played at a top ten quarterback level the last two seasons and by year three of his contract, he’ll likely be in the 7-10 range of per year averages for quarterbacks.
Moreover, is paying Cousins $28 million a season a worse proposition than trading up for “the guy” the Cardinals want in the 2018 NFL Draft?
If the Cardinals want to move up from 15 into the top five, let’s say to Cleveland’s second top five pick, for Sam Darnold, it would likely cost them a 2018 1st, 2018 2nd, 2019 1st and 2019 3rd.
Is Darnold/Josh Rosen/Baker Mayfield worth that investment?
If you say yes, then you know that filling out the offense is not going to happen until 2019 at the earliest.
Maybe you get Andrew Norwell and Sammy Watkins/Terrelle Pryor/Allen Robinson in free agency, but you are not getting anyone in the draft the next two drafts, early.
That’s the question. Which tax do you want to pay, cause you are paying one of three:
- High Salary
- Draft Capital
The Cardinals historically have paid in salary or wins/losses. Is it time to do so in draft capital?
PS: When you bring up Dak Prescott or Nick Foles in the comments, remember that Prescott is going to get paid $20+ million in his next contract and Foles is going to get $18+ million in his next contract and Wentz will likely get the biggest contract in NFL history in a year or two, showing that the Eagles were willing to pay the tax on two fronts. You only don’t pay the tax if you’re New England because that’s life.