In the past 24 hours (or so), Terrell Suggs and Matt Cassel have signed six-year deals worth about $63 million apiece.
The guaranteed money? For Suggs, $38 million. For Cassel, $28 million.
You blanched because Suggs is a nice player and Cassel is merely on track to perhaps becoming one? Well, at least they’ve played in the league. Mark Sanchez, taken fifth overall by the Jets, got his six-year, $60 million with $28 million guaranteed, while the No. 1 overall pick, the Lions Matt Stafford, has his six-year, $72 million deal with nearly $42 million guaranteed.
We’re not going to begrudge any man his tens of millions. But we will wonder in the wake of this windfall how much the “superelite” players — the franchise quarterbacks — will command when their time to do new deals rolls around.
We’re talking about (in order of expiring contract) Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. (I know, some of you won’t like us including Rivers. Tough #%@%. Do your own post.)
Eli Manning’s deal with the Giants is up after this season. Speculation in January figured Manning to be in line for a seven-year or eight-year deal worth nearly $120 million, with guarantees in the $40 million range. But now Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, likely will ask for even more, given that Stafford got more than $40 million without ever taking a snap.
Surely, winning a Super Bowl is worth a little more than that.
Indeed, earlier this month, ESPN’s Matt Mosley was predicting close to $50 million guaranteed for Eli after talking to a Giants source.
Rivers (he’ll always be linked to Eli, won’t he?) is also up after this season. His deal is harder to peg since he’s never been to a Super Bowl. In terms of importance to his team, however, he’s up there with any quarterback in the league. The difference in San Diego is that Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith already has broached the possibility of using the franchise tag on Rivers if progress toward a new deal isn’t made. As a result, Rivers’ big-money pay day might still be a couple of years away.
Then there’s Brady. In May 2005, he signed a six-year, $60 million deal with $26 million guaranteed. That team-friendly deal expires after the 2010 season. And Brady will be turning 33 heading into 2011.
Brady’s stated desire has been to avoid hamstringing the Pats financially with a massive deal. But Eli’s deal could be the elephant in the room during negotiations between the Pats and Brady’s agent, Don Yee. Would the Pats actually offer Brady less than Eli? Would Brady’s camp come in demanding more? Brady hasn’t yet been a player interested in measuring contract size among the league’s elite; it remains to be seen whether he’ll still feel that way the next time he’s at the bargaining table.
Peyton Manning’s current deal expires after the 2011 season, when Manning will be 34. Roethlisberger, who signed an eight-year, $102M extension in March of 2008, isn’t up until after 2015.
But as the younger guys get paid, the guys already under contract might develop an itch for more cash.
By then, guys like Stafford and Sanchez might be angling for their next big paydays, too.