It���s Week 2 Of The NFL Preseason, And The Games Are Starting To Matter

The takeaway from the Eagles winning a Super Bowl with a journeyman quarterback like Nick Foles should have been clear: You don’t need a great — or even very good — quarterback to win a Lombardi trophy.

But that’s not how these NFL general managers think. They see the success Foles had playing behind the best offensive line in football in one of the league’s most dynamic schemes backed up by a deep, talented defense and instead of saying, let’s build a roster like the Eagles, they think GET ME FOLES…

Bill Polian said on ESPN’s NFL Live that, if he were the Eagles’ GM, he wouldn’t listen to any offers for Nick Foles unless they started with “two 1’s and two 2’s.”

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 19, 2018

Or they see Case Keenum put up career numbers throwing to the best receiver duo in the league in a system that gives him wide open throw after wide open thrown while also being backed by a deep, talented defense … and now a quarterback nobody wanted a year ago is going to make a lot of money on the open market…

From @NFLGameDay: #Vikings QB Case Keenum is going to make a lot of money this offseason… and a look at what #Vikings WR Adam Thielen is dealing with. pic.twitter.com/o1i42BS17Z

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 21, 2018

Or maybe it’s Kirk Cousins that catches their eye. A quarterback prone to making mental mistakes under pressure who has benefitted from either a great supporting cast or a great scheme (sometimes both) over the last three years. He hits the open market and they start losing their minds…

Jets reportedly are willing to pay "whatever it takes" to get Kirk Cousins https://t.co/OP44CjqHHN pic.twitter.com/4slbHishBt

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) February 19, 2018

Whatever. It. Takes.

For this…

In his final game before a major paypday, Washington QB Kirk Cousins has 3 INTs and 0 TD

Last year on Week 17, he had a chance to take his team to the playoffs in a must-win game vs the #Giants and also threw an INT at the end of the gamepic.twitter.com/Q1wPiELyi1

— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 31, 2017

I get it. The NFL is a quarterbacks league. You can’t win without a good one, and you can’t get a good one without paying A LOT of money for him. That’s why good-but-not-great quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford sign for record money and everybody celebrates the deal. That’s why the Redskins get ripped for refusing to give an above average quarterback the biggest contract in NFL history.

Here’s the problem with that sentiment: There is no proof that paying for a quarterback leads to winning. In fact, there is basically no correlation between a quarterback’s compensation and how many games he wins. We did the math.

For the following chart, we picked out every season since 2013 in which a quarterback started at least half of his team’s games. That gave us a sample of 158 individual seasons. We then plotted those seasons based on the quarterback’s winning percentage and cap hit percentage during that season. Here is the result.

We get a correlation coefficient of .038. If you’ve forgotten everything you learned in that statistics course you took back in college, that’s statistically meaningless. For a point of comparison, there is a stronger correlation (three times stronger, actually) between a team’s preseason winning percentage and their regular season winning percentage. There’s is no correlation between a quarterback’s salary and how many games he wins, so whatever benefit a team gets from paying the quarterback premium is not showing up on the scoreboard.

And this continues to be apparent when looking at the cap hit percentages of every Super Bowl-winning quarterback since the implementation of the salary cap before the 1994 season.

* 2010 was an uncapped year. The percentage is based on the Packers’ team payroll.

The record for the highest cap hit percentage remains Steve Young’s 13.1% in that first season, when teams were still getting used to building rosters under a budget. Only four quarterbacks have ever won a Super Bowl while accounting for at least 11% of their team’s cap room: Young, Peyton Manning (twice), Tom Brady and Eli Manning.

Obviously, Eli is the anomaly here. Peyton and Brady are two of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and Peyton was dragged to his second ring by a historically great defense. Manning’s Giants weren’t a great team — just a good one that got hot at the right time. Teams aren’t building their rosters to be the next 2011 Giants is all I’m saying.

You would think that teams would look back at this data and adjust accordingly. Nope. In 2017, there were 10 starting quarterbacks taking up more than 11% of their team’s cap space, a list that includes Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill. There were 20 starters making more than the Super Bowl-winning average of 6.9%…

Meanwhile, five teams under that average managed to make it to the postseason, including the Super Bowl champs.

NFL teams aren’t learning, either. When I did a similar study after the 2014 season, the average cap hit percentage for starting quarterbacks was 7.5%. It’s now 8% and figures to go up even more next season now that Jimmy Garoppolo has signed a record-breaking deal.

I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible to build a Super Bowl-caliber team around a highly paid quarterback. Teams have done it. It’s just really hard. That quarterback just has to be very, very good and the front office still has to get lucky in the draft and free agency. Aaron Rodgers is the most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen, yet he hasn’t made it back to a Super Bowl since signing his mega deal. Drew Brees is a top-five quarterback all-time in my book, and he hasn’t been close since cracking the $20-million-per-year barrier. Same goes for Russell Wilson.

The argument could be made that no quarterback is worth as much money as these guys are making. Not even a Rodgers or Brees. Certainly not a Keenum or Cousins, but that won’t stop NFL teams from giving them too much money this offseason.

Source : http://ftw.usatoday.com/2018/02/nfl-quarterback-salaries-salary-cap-kirk-cousins-free-agency

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