Do quarterbacks have an “obligation” to other quarterbacks to maximize earnings?

Dallas Cowboys Vs. New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium
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The best justification for selfishness is selflessness.

From time to time, a quarterback who maxes out his leverage and in turn his contract attributes the hard bargain he drove to the fact that other quarterbacks will eventually be trying to get paid, too. On Wednesday, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott cited that mindset in getting the best deal he could from the Cowboys.

“I think any player that’s up to negotiation, they have an obligation to support and represent the rest of the NFL and where this game is going,” Prescott said at the press conference announcing his deal. “This contracts shows where this game is going financially, not just in the quarterback position but in all the positions. So obviously years later when I’m back at it, it will be in different circumstances. But I think I had a responsibility and an obligation to the other quarterbacks and to the other men and even the guys on my team to get this done.”

The most obvious contrast to this mindset, of course, comes from Tom Brady. He routinely has taken less than what he could get. His refusal to set the bar for other quarterbacks has made it harder for other quarterbacks to maximize their own earnings.

Brady’s willingness to take less also has been used against teammates who sought something closer to market value. If, after all, Brady is taking one for the team, why shouldn’t everyone else?

This dynamic makes Brady’s current talks with the Buccaneers even more interesting. He’s clearly the biggest draw on the roster, selling tickets and jerseys and all sorts of other stuff. But the Bucs are trying to keep the Super Bowl-winning band together.

So what happens with his $25 million cash and cap charge in 2021? Will he simply move money around to create cap space, or will he actually reduce his pay?

Dan Patrick raised an interesting question on Wednesday. What if Brady simply agrees to drop his pay to the league minimum of $1.075 million? That would give the Bucs $23.925 million in immediate cap space, nearly offsetting the difference between what the cap is and what it would have been if it had gone up by $10 million. Brady surely doesn’t need the money, and he’d surely give up the bulk of his salary if he knew with a reasonable degree of certainty that an eighth Super Bowl would be the reward.

Whatever Brady does, chances are he won’t say to the Bucs, “If Dak Prescott is worth $40 million per year, I’m worth that much and maybe more.” If Brady believed he had an obligation to other quarterbacks, he would.

58 responses to “Do quarterbacks have an “obligation” to other quarterbacks to maximize earnings?

  1. Maximize earnings all you want but don’t pretend there isn’t a salary cap when the team around you is deficient.

  2. No. Every cent paid to a QB is a cent less for a player at another position. It’s by no means virtuous.

    I won’t decry a player wanting to make their money. But if you’re making 25+ million a year, don’t pretend that winning is your top priority.

    And, realistically, being the head of a dynasty, especially for a major franchise, and not being viewed as a complete jerk, is a blank check for endorsements.

  3. Not only no, but hell no. Their obligation is to themselves, their family and team.

  4. Kinda like the union vs non-union. Some people don’t care about maximizing their income, but rather would like a better all around life. Money can’t buy happiness, achieving goals(like winning Super Bowls) can…

  5. What a greedy attitude. Maybe for some players winning matters too, not just getting as rich as possible. I bet the majority of the fans on this site wish their teams’ quarterbacks would take less money so they could afford better players around them. Terrible take Mike.

  6. With a salary cap, Prescott’s logic is flawed. The cap makes it a zero sum game for players. If someone on a team gets more, others get less. It’s that simple. Brady is smarter than most QBs–or at least his objectives/motivations are different. He knows to win teams need cap room. He wants to win more than being the highest paid guy. Not understanding that is why guys like Dak will never get a ring.

  7. Dak, like other QBs before him, are full of it. It is entirely self-serving to try and get every dollar. I don’t begrudge him or anyone else for doing so, but let’s not pretend he’s some type of Robinhood figure.

  8. I’m waiting for a QB to take the minimum to allow for the organization to build a super team

  9. Any player who says they just want to win then demands a huge chunk of the cap is a liar. Just say you value getting paid over winning. Its ok, nobody works for fun. We work for the paycheck.

  10. QB’s and there $ are beginning to ruin the game. Its called a “team” for a reason! And speaking specifically about Dak…what in the hell has he ever won? Sure, he puts up great stats, but what’s better – wins or stats? Dak is just a stat guy. Now w/ him, Coop & Zeke, there combined cap charge this year is aprox 75M for just 3 players…wow! How can you win like this? Watson, who signed a huge deal in Sept of 20, which was even after the dumpster fire was already burning, wants out…but again, he wanted to get paid – but what has he ever won? 28-25 as a starter. Russ? Now hes won a Super Bowl but wants to run team???? How about shut up & play…and oh yeah, if your pay wasn’t so high, maybe you could get an offensive line?????

    I respect Tom Brady, but not a fan of his – but he gets it!!! There is going to be a lot of unemployed veteran players this year…you just wonder why. Teams will never win if every player wants top market…hopefully players will understand it and start playing for the love of the game vs 40M and maybe play for 25M (or 30M).

  11. I’ve always wondered this. What if you went to all the best FAs and said give me 3 years on the vet minimum and I’ll assemble a team akin to the 1992 US Olympic basketball team but without the Christian Laetners.

    With the right coach? Cmon it’d put the league on its ear

  12. It depends on what is most important to an individual. Generations from now, when people transport to the HOF, the Brady exhibit will still be the most visited. Nobody mentions money when they talk about the all time greats in any sport.

  13. No. Their only obligation is to themselves, their family, and their team. However they want to balance that out is no one else’s concern.

    Some chase money, and that’s fine.

    Some (or at least one I can think of) prioritizes winning Super Bowls above his paycheck, and that’s fine, too.

  14. Easy Fix – All NFL QBs are in a subset of their own and NFL Teams draw numbers from a hat each NFL Season to see which QB plays where. The NFL then establishes QB Salary based on a win/completion formula and QBs are paid accordingly with the highest $$$ going to SB winning QB.

    End of the Drama Queen Era

  15. What baloney from Prescott. Responsibility to his teammates? Every dollar he got he took away from them. All he’s “normalizing” is anyone with leverage taking theirs and to heck with everyone else.

    In a salary-cap world, that is anarchy.

  16. All labor in all industries have an obligation to maximize their earnings. Those billionaires don’t care about us. We should all be discussing our wages instead of propping up greedy billionaires that are destroying the planet.

  17. I’m in the camp of every player should get as much money in their contract as possible. I’m also in the camp saying that an owner should say NO.

    Let a player sit out-that’s their choice.

  18. The point of the cap is to maintain competitiveness around the league, which makes the product better for everyone. Assembling “super teams” by having star players accept below-market pay is not good for the league. Every player should strive for fair market value. That’s not the same as squeezing every last penny out, but you want fair market value. It makes everything better. Does anyone other than Bucs fans really think Tom Brady accepting vet min pay so they can collectively steam roll the rest of the league would actually be a good thing?

  19. Future endorsements go to champions…. market yourself forever if you’re a winner
    …..big contract now and a career .500 win percentage and nobody remembers your name…

  20. Players demand higher revenues. Owners use player salaries to justify raising ticket prices, which are already outrageously high. Fans ultimately foot the bill for all of it and are happy to do so. But when teachers want a pay raise – that’s outrageous. We can’t afford it.

  21. QB’s have an obligation to themselves, to fulfill whatever goals they’ve set for themselves and their team. And there are also morals and values to consider. Each guy is different. Some might feel greedy taking too much money, and maybe his religious beliefs wouldn’t allow that. Everyone doesn’t worship the dollar. There’s a lot of diversity in the NFL. I’d have to respect each individual’s desires.

  22. No matter where you come out on compensation for Dak or Brady, let’s remember that (1) the players get less than 50% (49.8%, but when you are talking billions, it adds up) of ALL revenue per the labor agreement (2) as another poster noted, the salary cap is a zero sum game that effectively pits the players against themselves, and (3) the owners have more than covered ALL their costs before they open the doors due to TV and other ancillary money – the gate is pure profit. Now COVId was a setback for the owners, but one year of non-maximum extraction is not going to lead people to feel sorry for them

  23. It’s not the player’s job to take care of his team budget.
    Let the GM do his job and let him be accountable.

  24. Players have obligations to their family.
    Then to their team mates.
    Then to others.

  25. Taking the biggest piece of the pie is not a very good example of leadership. This is a team game. I have always wondered how dominant a team could be if the everybody bought into that mentality. I hate to say it but Brady just took that attitude to the Bucs. By himself did he win a ring? Nope. He told his team that THEY would win one together.

  26. “But I think I had a responsibility and an obligation to the other quarterbacks and to the other men and even the guys on my team to get this done.”
    Holy…what the…..Lol…..Did Dak just say he owes it to the guys on his team to sabotage the teams salary cap? Yes, I changed the wording, but he absolutely said that.

  27. I’m not sure the comparison to Brady is a fair one.

    Brady has 20 years of wealth accumulation so that the impact of an extra million or even $5M isn’t as big as it is to a 4th or 5th year player starting to make their first big contract. Heck, even 10 years into his career, Brady could comfortably take less for the past decade.

    Also, how many QBs can say they have a wife that has out earned them for the majority of their career (I recall reading that around 2013 till about 2017 or 2018 that Gisele was making more per year than Brady).

  28. You want these guys to get every last dime but then fail to see it’s a zero sum game so the more out of whack these contacts are, the maor pain it causes to thoes who are cut, so what’s the point? These other guys have families too. Dak gets over paid and now others will get cut and have to take less. How is that a good thing? New, because of Brady’s refusal to set the bar for other to maximize their own earnings. Please stop with this. If Dak and Deshnan are worth $00 mil then Mahomes is worht $50 or $60 mil. I hope Brady takes less than $25 mil in his extention so then you can obsese about unfiar that is and ask for a rule change.

  29. Brady has no obligation to the QBs of other teams. He doesn’t really have an obligation to his teammates to play for less than he’s worth but does it to set a good example. It lets the team to to an overpaid vet like Jensen or Smith and ask them to take a small paycut to keep the team together. Someone like Godwin should get every nickel he can since he’s coming off a cheap rookie deal. Guys like Gronk, Suh, AB have made lots of money and probably value another ring more than top dollar. Same with TB12.

  30. Ridiculous. With the cap, a QB has to understand that getting every possible dollar is going to limit what’s around him. The other point is when a big contract for a QB doesn’t work out, the rest of the league notices. Look at Wentz and Goff, for example. Given those scenarios and that Dak is coming off a major injury, Jerry is out of his mind on this deal. Let someone else pay Dak. You could have traded up to get a QB for a few million a year for 5 years.

  31. Or maybe quarterbacks should just mind their own business and not worry about what everyone else is making.

    That also applies to other positions as well, BTW.

  32. People talk like Tom Brady plays for minimum wage. At the end of this year, we will be the NFL player with the highest career earnings at over $260 million. In Brady’s rookie season, the salary cap was $60 million. It will continue to rise, and contracts will get bigger. I doubt Tom regrets leaving a few dollars on the table.

  33. Pretty simple. If these star QBs want to win several rings, they won’t try to become the highest paid QB.

    None of the top paid QBs have won a superbowl. They’ve typically won it when on rookie contract, or just before the big pay raise happens.

  34. lgw91s says:
    March 11, 2021 at 3:22 pm
    People talk like Tom Brady plays for minimum wage. At the end of this year, we will be the NFL player with the highest career earnings at over $260 million. In Brady’s rookie season, the salary cap was $60 million. It will continue to rise, and contracts will get bigger. I doubt Tom regrets leaving a few dollars on the table.


    True, he’s been paid a ton. That said, he was never breaking the bank and at times the 10th – 15th highest paid QB. He knew he was making great money, but prioritized rings over being top paid QB.

  35. QB paydays are out of control. Not only do QBs make the most, they have the longest careers. The more a QB makes, the less his teammates make.

  36. If I were a top tier QB in the NFL and on a good team (think Josh Allen now), I wouldn’t be going for the $40 – $45 mil per year. I’d be just happy with the $30 – $35 mil (maybe make more guaranteed $$$). Thus allowing my team to spend more around me.

    These QBs will be banking in endorsement $$$.

    Mahomes contract;
    10 years – $450mil. $151 guaranteed

    I’d rather do this
    10 years – $325mil with $250 guaranteed

    Team assumes more risk in case of injury, but gains that risk with cheaper cap hit and ability to field a better team. Win / Win!

  37. Wow, look at all the virtue signalling communists posting here!

    I’m curious as to WHY only the QB is expected to be taking “less” than full market value ie. what his team is willing to pay. Why aren’t you asking EVERY player to be taking a discount to help a “winning” team?

    And if the QB is so important that they contribute directly to 30%-40% of a team’s ability to win, then I have absolutely no problem with them taking 30%-40% of the team’s salary.

  38. I wonder how the NFL could police post retirement payments.
    I remember the Packers offered Favre 20 mill to retire.
    What if Kraft paid Brady 5 mill a year for 25 years post retirement; how would anyone know?

  39. This is such a huge problem for the League…. teams keep line up and fall all over themselves to pay these guys record setting $$

  40. I can’t actually agree with his argument. Teams are required to spend 90% of their salary cap.

    A more accurate argument is that he is representing QBs as opposed to other positions and by pushing for every penny he is setting the economic case for other teams to value their QBs higher than their other player positions.

    I don’t think many players would be willing to speak up, but I would guess a good percentage of the rank and file of players have to be thinking that this comes at their expense.

  41. Daks negotiating did not make any of the other players any better off. There is still salary cap and no true free agency. All dak did was maximize his own earnings within the system. That’s fair, but it only shifted the wealth shared by the players. No additional funds shifted from owner to players. Interesting how the owners have implemented salary caps in the interest of benefitting the entire league and the players don’t seem to understand that one position, quarterback, is soaking up far too much money that could go to other players.

  42. Maybe Dak is happy getting his bag and Brady is happy winning rings? And it’s not like Brady’s a pauper who’s going to struggle once he’s done playing, or like the QB market hasn’t ballooned to ridiculous levels regardless. Whether they choose to get paid as much as possible or choose to leave some on the table, the only “obligation” QBs have is to themselves and their families. They can watch their own pockets just fine.

  43. Brady took less because he most likely was being paid under the table all those years. Anything is possible with that farce organization.

  44. So under this premise, it’s Derick Henry’s obligation to rob the Titans blind for the sake of Christian McCaffrey and other RBs? I’m aware I don’t have much of a leg to stand on with my team’s QB getting a kings ransom, but considering what all he’s accomplished as opposed to Dak, he’s actually worth at least worth a lot of money. Veach did the team a huge favor forcing the payout structure to allow for periodical cuts as opposed to having to having to cut half the team for one player.

    But if this was even somewhat in the back of Dak’s mind, he’s putting players on other teams ahead of his own. Not a good look among the rest of the fellas in the big D’s locker room.

  45. I find it illogical to say that if the star QB of one team takes more of available cap space $, that he is helping other players in the League. Perhaps he is helping raise the bar for 31 other QBs, but he is short changing every other NFL player in their Union. I believe the Cap Space needs to be segregated into equal parts between Defense & Offense with variances allowed for Special Teams and between seasons with parameters. A QB cap of 14% of top three QBs on a team, including the practice squad. Of course, it might have to be initially set higher to allow the percentage to be reduced for those now spending well above that percentage goal.

  46. “Obligation” for QB to maximize earnings, is like Bezos coming out and saying he needs to add another billion to his net worth because he’s a capitalist.

  47. I’m tired of hearing that “I owe it to everyone else at my position to get the maximum contract I can” argument.

    Trevor Bauer just did it in MLB and it’s sickening.

  48. An obligation to slice the biggest part of the pie. Let the rest have crumbs. How honorable.

  49. Dak was paid 4.9M over his 1st 4 years. No team has got a better deal than that on a starting QB in the NFL at 1.225 per year. Now he is being paid 160M over next 4 years. So in essence he is on his 5th year of an 8 year deal, which would break down to 20M per year. Not so out of line now is it?

  50. Nothing against Dak, but this kind of statement sounds like a line his agent fed him to answer anyone who approaches him with a “how dare you!” attitude about the contract he just signed.

    And please, let’s all remember that any contract is NOT something a player inflicts on a team – it’s something both parties agree to. If it’s bad economics then that’s the team’s fault. There are few, if any, let’s-all-sing-kum-baya moments on the business side of pro sports.

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