Quarterbacks are overvalued and overpaid. That's the way it works in the NFL.
QBs are routinely drafted ahead of where they rate on big boards. They are given monstrous deals after one successful season. Several of the quarterbacks mentioned below will be playing for a different team in 2014.
Not every guy on the list found below necessarily had a terrible season in 2013. What you have to remember when considering their rankings is that Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks was the best quarterback in Super Bowl XLVIII. Wilson's cap number wasn't good enough to register in the 50 highest in the league among QBs last year.
11 Honorable Mention: Brandon Weeden - Cleveland Browns: $1,837,111 in 2013
Weeden had what was by far the lowest cap hit of the QBs who made this list. He barely earned a quarter of his money with his play, however, and he will go down as yet another Browns draft bust. He lost his job twice in 2013, once to Brian Hoyer and then later on in the campaign to Jason Campbell, and Weeden has to already know that he has no place in Cleveland come free agency.
Think about this: Wilson's cap hit was about one-third of what was Weeden's. That stings if you're a fan of the Browns.
10 Matt Hasselbeck - Indianapolis Colts: $3.5 million in 2013
Hasselbeck made brief appearances in three games. He threw 12 total regular season passes. He had a cap number of $3.5 million.
This is absurd to me.
The Colts have Andrew Luck, one of the best young quarterbacks in all of the NFL. He does not need such expensive tutoring. A backup as good as Hasselbeck is at this stage of his career could be had at half the cost.
9 Sam Bradford - St. Louis Rams: $12.595 million in 2013
It was just a few years ago that Bradford was believed to be a future champion. He could now be trade bait. Bradford participated in only seven games in 2013 before his season ended in late October after he tore his ACL.
The worry with Bradford is that he may never reach what are very high and maybe unrealistic expectations. Experts have the Rams taking an offensive lineman with the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the team could fall in love with a to-be rookie quarterback between now and May. Doing so and then moving on from Bradford would save the Rams millions of dollars.
8 Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers: $13.595 million in 2013
Roethlisberger has undeniably earned his salary with his past performances. That said, he was part of the problem during Pittsburgh's 0-4 start. He turned the ball over in every game in September, and while he played better in the final 12 games of the season, the Steelers could not back into the postseason.
Pittsburgh's cap situation is as bad as any I've reviewed this offseason. The Steelers need to get younger in the secondary, and they need a play-maker on offense. It looks like the franchise is going to stick with Big Ben, and I see that decision as a reason for why Pittsburgh won't be able to hang with the best of the best in the AFC in 2014.
7 Joe Flacco - Baltimore Ravens: $6.8 million in 2013
Flacco's 2013 season was a reminder of what happens when a quarterback gets paid after he wins a Super Bowl. The Ravens inevitably couldn't keep certain players, and then a key weapon on offense was lost to injury before September. None of that changes the fact that the Baltimore front office went all-in on Flacco, and he didn't deliver.
Flacco had a career low 73.1 rating, and his 22 interceptions were the most he's ever thrown since entering the league in 2008. Any and all excuses go out the window when a player is paid to be the franchise quarterback of a team. Flacco must do better next season.
6 Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons: $9.6 million in 2013
The problem with Ryan continues to be that he is paid as if he was a great quarterback. He is only a good, sometimes a pretty good, quarterback. His stats in 2013 put him with the likes of Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Dalton had a cap number of under $1.5 million.
Ryan didn't have a lot of help or a lot of good luck last season. That said, the Falcons are approaching a time when they're going to have to ask the difficult question: Is Matty Ice the man to lead this team to a title?
5 Matt Schaub - Houston Texans: $10.750 million in 2013
Schaub was nothing short of a disaster in 2013. He was more known for throwing pick-six interceptions than for helping his team, and he was eventually benched. The belief is that new head coach Bill O'Brien will have nothing to do with Schaub.
And he shouldn't.
The Texans possess the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. They are in a position to take either Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles. Houston could also trade down and then pick up a quarterback later on in the draft. Either way, Schaub will be in a different city next fall.
4 Michael Vick - Philadelphia Eagles: $12.2 million in 2013
Surprise, surprise: Michael Vick couldn't remain healthy during the season. He appeared in only seven games in 2013, and he has been replaced by Nick Foles. Vick will be going elsewhere this spring, and odds are he'll again get hurt at some point.
Vick's NFL career will, barring what would be a shocking title run, always be a matter of “if only.” If only Vick avoided getting injured. If only he stayed out of trouble.
3 Mark Sanchez - New York Jets: $12,853,125 in 2013
Sanchez injured his shoulder in the preseason, and he was ultimately placed on IR. He's thrown his final pass while wearing Gang Green. It's the end of a Sanchize Era that wasn't nearly as much of a disaster as some who use the words “butt fumble” far more often than they should would lead you to believe.
Sanchez took the Jets closer to the Super Bowl than the team had been in many years. He rarely gets credit for how well he played in postseason games. I think he still has some pretty good football in him if he's healthy.
2 Tony Romo - Dallas Cowboys: $11,818,835 in 2013
His contract continues to be the most baffling in the NFL and possibly the most baffling in all of North American professional sports. He is paid as if he won the Super Bowl while with the Cowboys. He's never even taken the team to the Big Game.
He turns 34 years old next April, and his cap number increases next year. Romo's deal handcuffs the Cowboys each offseason, and I don't believe that they're going to win a championship with his contract on the books.
1 Eli Manning - New York Giants: $20.850 million in 2013
Eli Manning has two Super Bowl MVP trophies on his mantel. He deserves to be paid as he is. That said, Manning had the worst season of his professional career in 2013, and thus he is atop this list.
He threw an astonishing 27 interceptions, some of which were the fault of his wide receivers, and his overall rating was only 69.4. Manning unquestionably needs better support, particularly from his offensive line, next season. The Giants will be forced to consider moving on to the team's next starting quarterback, however, if Manning again has such a terrible season.
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