In some cities, it pays better to be the backup quarterback


The rookie wage scale has created, in some cities, a bizarre dynamic.  Several backup quarterbacks make more money than the starter.

The latest example of that trend comes in Philly, where veteran Mark Sanchez reportedly will earn up to $4 million this year.  Starter Nick Foles, in the third year of a third-round rookie contract, will earn $615,000.

Foles isn’t alone.  In Seattle, Russell Wilson will make $662,434 in 2014; Tarvaris Jackson gets $1.25 million.  With the Jets, Geno Smith will earn $663,164 in 2014, while Mike Vick makes $5 million.  (Then again, Vick may end up being the starter.)

Even in San Francisco, the backup is (for now) making more than twice the amount the starter will receive.  Blaine Gabbert has a fourth-year salary of $2.011 million.  Colin Kaepernick will make, absent a new deal, $973,766.

It’s a disparity that will continue at least for the remainder of the current CBA, and possibly beyond.  Unless and until the NFLPA negotiates an adjustment to the system that pays young quarterbacks significantly more, the most important position on the team will from time to time be manned by a player who’s making less money than his understudy.

26 responses to “In some cities, it pays better to be the backup quarterback

  1. Just more evidence for why it would be a good idea to set up the next CBA with more economic logic since it’s now too late to get the numbers right for the present era. I predict by the year 2050 we will see a much better sense of financial equity and justice in the NFL that more closely resembles something that makes sense.

  2. None of them were first round picks and they have yet to sign their second contracts. Not surprising

  3. Nick foles asked for a new contract and the eagles immediately told him they were trying to trade him for a third rd pick. See mathis.. see.. desean jackson. Angry birds about to implode.

  4. Why would the NFLPA care? Starting QBs have to wait until their second contract to break the bank. Given the litany existing safety and financial concerns of current and former NFL players, what sane union would prioritize getting a fraction of a percent of its members paid sooner? It is a zero sum game. The Eagles have $14m (ballpark) more then the Giants to spend on the rest of their roster due to the starting QB contract disparity. Those dollars get spread over other NFLPA members. This is an issue for young quarterbacks’ agents, not the Union.

  5. Most backups also wont be able to sell their “Brand” in commercials and advertisements. Also these starter are all young, i.e. generally under the age of 26 whereas the backups are all over the age of 26. Moral of the story is that is pays to be a NFL backup QB. Get the money while you can.

  6. Small problem compared to the old one. Way better than a rookie that hasn’t done anything making 60million.

  7. And when you start making exceptions for the QB position then you have to do it for all. Then you will have repeated history and you end up w/ Sam Bradford deals w/ huge guaranteed money for a chump who hasn’t proven himself on Sunday. The rookie scale was put in place to get more money to veterans who actually have done something in the league!!!! Stop the madness.

  8. It takes awhile to correct a problem that had stupidly gotten out of hand. And let’s face it–Matt Flynn has been the king of this situation. I like the idea that the preposterous salaries of rookies who have never played a game has finally been corrected. Having said that, there should be a Board that a player or team can appeal to–a player who has extraordinarily outplayed his rookie contract–about adjusting a salary that is way too low. Russell Wilson would be an excellent case in point, in which I think the team actually would have been OK with paying him more if they could have.

  9. I think the NFLPA should issue dart boards of Ryan Leaf and/or Jamarcus Russell to every young QB who gets drafted. Want to know why you’re getting stiffed the first four years of your career? Those two are the reason.

  10. Wasn’t there a situation last year where the Seahawks were paying a QB they had cut — Brady Quinn — more than the QB who led them to the Super Bowl?

  11. I understand the scale and its fine but there should be incentive clauses in there rookie contracts, for example Luck and RG3 took bad teams to playoffs the next year, Luck still going too. Kaep and Wilson to NFC Championship games and SB’s with Russel winning one. Got to be a checks and balance.

  12. The last CBA was an over-correction to the ridiculous rookie deals that used to be handed out. Making a rookie wait 3 seasons to get a fair market deal it too long.

    Perhaps the next deal could tie the time players can renegotiate their rookie deals to performance incentives or number of starts, and it shouldn’t just be for QBs.

    Why should a left tackle who steps in from day one and starts every snap for two seasons and makes a Pro Bowl have to play for (relative) peanuts?

    Allowing over-performing rookies to make new deals with the teams that drafted them after 2 seasons would not only be fair to the players, but it would also reward teams who draft well by allowing them to lock up their own draft picks sooner.

    And the rookie wage scale would still be in place.

  13. The rookie wage scale is great. I would much rather see the proven veterans raking in the dough than some 21 year old baby faced kid who MIGHT be successful in the NFL. JaMarcus Russell sure earned all that coin…

  14. I do believe the rookie wage scale was a good thing, but also believe that it should be reworkable in 2 years if they perform.

    Russell Wilson blows out his knee or something else this year, what happens to him? He is a Superbowl winning quarterback, and could end up never being compensated at the level that deserves.

  15. “I believe Matt Moore is [more than?] paid Ryan Tannehill……”


    I’m sure Tannehill feels better about the situation when he gets home, and looks at his wife.

  16. Oh please. These rookies coming in don’t deserve to get paid more than the vets.

    Like any other job, you prove your worth, and you will get paid accordingly.

    We all know Wilson & Kaep will get their huge contracts soon.

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