Today’s podcast breaks down the quarterback market after the first few days of free agency where we saw Brock Osweiler get a four-year, $72 million contract with Houston and the Broncos trade for Mark Sanchez on a one-year, $4.5 million contract with only $1 million guaranteed to replace him for the time being and where the Jets allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to test the market and he found no takers.
We had both ends of the spectrum, teams overspending on unproven quarterbacks like the Texans and teams like the Broncos and Jets sticking to the kind of run-first, defensive formula that the 2000 Ravens and 2013 Seahawks provided the blueprint for from a salary cap perspective.
Interestingly, you can’t fault the Texans for the move they made as they are really only a quarterback away from competing for a Super Bowl and they’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of QB death for far too long to risk going without one as JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are getting older every year as the foundation of their great defense. Having Osweiler at 11-12% of the cap is not ideal and they might regret it, but they decided that they believed in him in Bill O’Brien’s system enough to take the chance.
On the other end of the spectrum you see the Broncos trade for Mark Sanchez on that $4.5 million deal and the Jets opening the door for the possibility of an inexpensive RG3 if Fitzpatrick won’t take a reasonable contract with Geno Smith as the back-up. Christian Hackenberg in the second round wouldn’t surprise me for the Broncos, nor would a trade of some draft picks for a player like AJ McCarron if they can’t come to an agreement on Kaepernick’s value in a trade with the 49ers. Who knows? Maybe the Jets are thinking the same kind of move and have their eyes on their own mid-round QB prospect. While this class doesn’t have the headliners at QB like last year’s class had with Mariota and Winston, they do have some really intriguing mid- to late-round players like Hackenberg, Connor Cook, Dak Prescott, Cardale Jones, Jacoby Brissett, Kevin Hogan, Nate Sudfeld, Cody Kessler and even Jake Coker as a really late developmental guy. I know that Coker isn’t on anyone’s radar, but he has a strong arm and showed a ton of grit this season and that always interests me. I also like the 67% completion percentage with 21 touchdowns to 8 interceptions.
Somewhere in the middle we have what the Eagles did with Sam Bradford at 8.05% of the cap this year, but locking Chase Daniel in as his back-up at 3.21% in 2016, then 4.83% and 4.49% of the projected 2017 and 2018 salary caps. As I explain on the podcast, Daniel’s deal gives them tremendous leverage to either force Bradford to restructure down from the 14.20% cap hit in 2017 or release him and draft a QB of the future with Chase Daniel as the two year bridge or back-up quarterback to someone they draft in 2017. There’s always the possibility that they still draft a quarterback in the middle rounds in 2016 as a developmental player like Dak Prescott, Cardale Jones or Kevin Hogan, which gives them even more insurance and leverage against Bradford.
As we see with the Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick and RG3, quarterbacks who are perceived to have flamed out are much less expensive than quarterbacks who are still perceived as guys with potential like Osweiler, so if Bradford only has an okay to above average season, that might be enough to make him realize a restructure in the neighborhood of 7-8% of the cap long-term is worth it for him. If he has a terrific season, then they’ve got their quarterback of the future and it would be beneficial for Bradford to lock into something in the 9-10% of the cap range over the next 3-4 years.
Either way, the Eagles have really improved their situation at quarterback nicely with a real threat to fight for the starting job in Daniel, which Sanchez was not.
When a team is really far away from being successful, like the Bears two years ago, you can look at their salary cap and wonder what the hell they’re trying to build. As a team begins to get closer and closer to a Super Bowl, it begins to come together and you have a picture of what they’re trying to do, their formula. While we can disagree with the cap figures for Osweiler or disagree with the Jets if they let Fitzpatrick go, you can’t disagree with the fact that all four of these organizations have a good idea of what they’re trying to accomplish and how they’re going to get there.
To hear the whole conversation on the quarterback market after the first few days of free agency, listen to episode #7 of The Zack Moore Show. You can listen and subscribe on iTunes by searching The Zack Moore Show, but if you don’t have iTunes, then you can listen on Soundcloud here.
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