Three -and-out: Ravens off season blueprint
Anyone who thinks the Ravens overpaid Joe Flacco last season almost surely thinks the Bears overpaid to keep Jay Cutler. However, Flacco’s career credentials are more impressive than Cutler’s. And if you plan on winning in today’s NFL, you can’t afford not to keep a proven starting quarterback in his prime.
Flacco is coming off a disappointing season after signing his six-year, $120.6 million contract. But look at what Flacco has already accomplished. He was MVP of the Super Bowl last season, putting together a string of clutch performances to get there. He has never missed a start in six seasons. His teams have made the playoffs five times, and his post-season record is 9-4, with six of those wins coming on the road.
Compare that to Cutler, who signed a seven-year, $126 million deal Thursday, with $54 million guaranteed. Cutler has never been to a Super Bowl. He has not been nearly as durable as Flacco, missing six games this season alone. Flacco will turn 29 years old on Jan. 16, while Cutler is already 30 years old.
Yet, the Bears committed long-term to Cutler. They believe Cutler’s best is yet to come, playing in coach Marc Trestman’s quarterback-friendly system, and throwing to two gifted receivers – Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
The Cutler deal is a gamble for the Bears, but NFL teams simply pay top-dollar for established quarterbacks. Look at some of the contracts quarterbacks have signed within the last two years:
@ Peyton Manning, Broncos, five years, $96 million
@ Drew Brees, Saints, five years, $100 million
@ Tony Romo, Cowboys, six years, $108 million
@ Aaron Rodgers, Packers, five-year, $110 million extension
@ Matt Ryan, Falcons, five-year, $103.75 million extension
@ Matthew Stafford, Lions, three-year, $53 million extension
Manning, Brees and Rodgers have already won a Super Bowl, and all are clearly better than Flacco. However, Romo, Ryan, and Stafford have never been to a Super Bowl, and they will all be watching the playoffs at home this weekend.
If you have a quarterback who can win consistently, who gives you a chance to win championships, you pay him. If you don’t, somebody else will. That is the reality of today’s NFL.
Flacco cashed in last year, and Cutler cashed in on Thursday. Flacco already has a Super Bowl on his resume, and the Ravens believe they can win another if they upgrade the talent around Flacco. The Bears already have impressive offensive talent surrounding Cutler. Now the Bears are gambling that Cutler can lead them where Flacco has already been.