The Role of Age in the Success of the NFL QB


In keeping up with our theme of extending Quarterbacks I decided to look at the age of QB’s advancing deep into the playoffs, meaning at least an appearance in a conference championship game.  Why team success instead of stats?  Primarily because QB’s are paid at an extremely high rate since teams are equating playoff success with QB play.

We’ll begin by breaking the numbers down by decade.


The 70’s were certainly a different brand of football. The average age of a Super Bowl participant was 31.4. The next closest decade was just 30.3. All 10 seasons in the 70’s had at least 2 QB’s over 30 and 6 years saw at least one over the age of 35. In the 33 years that have followed, only 15 seasons had at least 2 QBs over 30 leading their team to a conference championship game and only 11 seasons with a QB over the age of 35.

Focusing on 1980 thru 2012, we can begin to see some trends that develop. The following graph represents the percentage of players appearing in the championship game sorted by age, with a best fit line trend line added to smooth the data. We can call this a Quarterbacks lifecycle.


This chart really should be a guideline for teams when identifying talent and extension possibilities for the QB position.  47% of participants in the Championship game were ages 26 thru 29. It’s 54.5% if we extend it to 30. Beyond 30 the numbers begin to crumble. 18.2% were between the ages of 31 and 34 and the 35 and over category is just 10.6%.  The numbers just affirm the saying that “it’s a young mans game”.

The consistent plus 31 group is from an older generation. Joe Montana and Steve Young led the way with 4 appearances while John Elway and Jim Kelly both had 3. The only players whose careers did not begin before 1990 that made the list multiple times were Tom Brady and Brett Favre, both of whom made it two times past the age of 30. The other post 90 QB’s to do it were Brad Johnson,  Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Jake Plummer, and Donovan McNabb.  Of the 7 Super Bowl winners (in which I included Phil Simms due to so many starts even though he was injured for the playoffs) only Johnson would be considered a modern era QB. Of the 14 who played in the Super Bowl a total of 4 are from the modern era (Manning, Brady, and Warner along with Johnson).  That doesn’t mean nobody is going to do it again but it’s a hard task, especially if high cap charges for the aging QB, not an issue in the 80’s and even partially in the 90’s, compromise your ability to field the best roster.

As we look around the NFL there are a number of contracts that defy logic just based on the age criteria. Perhaps there is no worse contract in the NFL than the contract given to Peyton Manning. Manning fell into an age group that had a 7.6% chance of making it to at least the title game and in each season the odds get progressively worse. On average he gives the Broncos a 1.5% chance of making it and for that makes $19.2 million a season. The Broncos are paying $12.672 million per percent, by far the highest in the NFL. The Patriots, who were praised to no end (myself included) for the contract extension given to Tom Brady, have the second highest effective spend in the NFL on the position. Brady’s contract may be more difficult to escape than Manning’s, though Brady has been far more successful in the postseason and is one of the most likely candidates to make it back again to the title games as this generations Montana or Elway. Tony Romo is the 3rd worst bargain in the NFL and with no track record at all he is a prayer player for the deep playoff run.

When you look at the rookie contracts it just reinforces why teams should be considering the draft rather than overextending aging talent. Cam Newton, coming in at 22, would have about a 4.8% chance per year at making it over the terms of his rookie deal. Luck, a year older, would be at 7.7%. They both cost around $5.5 million a year, about 3.5 times less than Manning, and with a significantly higher chance at making it deep into the playoffs.

By extending a player earlier in their lifecycle a team can gain tremendous upside and flexibility.  Consider the option of extending Newton when he turns 25. A 5 year extension makes Newton property of the Panthers until the age of 30.  That 6 year period is the peak of the lifecycle with a 10% chance per year of making it deep into the playoffs.  By extending early and rolling the 4th rookie year into the contract the effective cap values of the contract can be smoothed out and rather than just having one low cost year and a few high seasons the Panthers have the ability to have a cap affordable contract over the entire 6 year period using the extra funds to improve the quality of the team for the long term.  In the event a player does not work out or you end up in cap trouble you can escape the contract with minimal cap penalties or potentially extend briefly into the low 30’s.

A perfect illustration of this is the cap killing contract of Joe Flacco versus that of Aaron Rodgers. While the two are at different stages of their careers Rodgers effective cap value is only $18.68 million a year compared to Flacco’s $20.1 million. The Ravens will be forced to extend Flacco at huge money figures when he turns 31. The effective age at which the Ravens will be able to escape Flacco is likely going to be 36 unless he fails so badly that they absorb major cap penalties when he is 32 or 33. Rodgers can be let go after the season in which he will be 34. It’s the benefit of extending early.

The worst thing a team could do is franchise their young QB. All a tag does is delay the inevitable of a long term deal. In Newton’s case you would pay a huge sum of money to invoke their 5th year option when he will be 26. Most likely you will extend the next year keeping him until he is 31 and on a contract with far less flexibility than one in which he was extended at the age of 25.

As difficult as it is for a team to let go it almost seems foolish to chase the dream with the overpriced aging QB, no matter what the track record of the player may be. Brady has probably exceeded all expectations but he is under a contract until he is 40 and in essence the deal is fully guaranteed if he remains on the team through the 2014 season. Structuring deals like the Brees contract that nearly ensures 5 years under contract is insanity. Now 34, Brees is in the age group that shows little upside, let alone at $20 million a season.

In a perfect world teams should be extending their QB’s at the ages of 25 or 26 and setting up contracts with exit strategies in the early 30s. If you must extend in the 30s the contracts need to be of the Alex Smith variety- 3 years with a rapid escape plan after 1 year. Everyone considers it a foregone conclusion that Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger will be extended in the next year or two. They probably will be and at least they have the pedigree to be the next group of post 30 stars, but the teams would likely be better off, if the draft quality is good, to trade such a player for multiple first round picks that can be turned into 22 or 23 year old QB’s. If a team does not have the guts to do that kind of move then the next best option is to draft QB’s in the later rounds until you find the successor.  If those teams do plan on extending the earlier they do it the better off they will be when it comes to long term health. It’s far better to extend Eli at 32 than at 34 or 35 years old.

This now leads into a discussion of players currently under contract with potential  extensions on the horizon, the most interesting of which looks to be Matt Ryan. I’ve said multiple times that Ryan is the best young player in the NFL, but Ryan will actually be 28 this season. This is the peak of his career and the Falcons may let him play things out. Signing him at 29 to a 5 or 6 year deal makes much less sense than locking him up at 28, though that is a better option than tagging him and then signing him at 30. Ryan probably should have been extended last season with the Falcons having plenty of options later in his career to use him to rebuild or to hope he is one of the late career success guys.

Jay Cutler will turn 30 this year, his final with the Bears. The Bears best option with him is to let him play the year out, tag him, and try to trade him to a team like the Browns or Buccaneers who will likely bid high in desperation for a QB. Phillip Rivers still has a few years remaining on his contract but with almost  no dead money the next two years this is essentially a free agent year for him. He will be 32 in 2013 and the Chargers should be doing everything in their power to trade him and get younger and cheaper at the position.

The young guys are all strong candidates if the play warrants it. Matt Stafford and Josh Freeman are only 25. I don’t think either has shown enough to be extended now though Stafford’s cap numbers may force the issue. Newton, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick will all be eligible after this season for extensions. Their ages will be 25, 27, and 27 respectively, making Dalton and Kaepernick both very interesting decisions if they have decent seasons. They will be at that age where waiting is counterproductive once you have made the decision that the player will be your starter for the next few years. Better to make mistakes early in the lifecycle than later in it, which should push teams to extend players like this even if some questions persist.

The following table lists the veterans in the NFL and what their effective cap charges are over the entire terms of their contracts. $/percent represents the dollar figure paid for the chance to get to the Championship round. The more expensive the worse the deal is in terms of cap management.



Drafting Decisions and the Salary Cap


One of the big concessions made by the union in the last CBA dealt with the institution of a true rookie wage scale for all draft picks. Salaries at the top of the NFL draft had more or less grown out of control with Sam Bradford, the final number 1 overall pick in the old system, signing a $78 million dollar contract without ever stepping foot onto a NFL football field.  Even today Bradford’s deal holds as the 10th largest contract at the position when measured by annual value and Bradford is a bottom tier QB. Due to the salary cap consequences of releasing him Bradford is essentially protected from being released.

While NFL teams certainly have the money to afford these deals on a cash basis, on a cap basis they had become prohibitive to the point where high draft picks were being devalued due to the high risk and excessive cost associated with the draft picks. So I wanted to look into the ways by which we can value a draft pick and examine the cost/performance relationship of a player’s career and his draft status.

The Methodology

Last year I began working on a draft valuation using data from pro football reference to score players based on Pro Bowls, Years as a Starter, and Games Played.  The player’s individual score was compared to the average for his particular draft class and a score was awarded in each category and summed to calculate a total score. As my buddy RJF, a great poster over on, pointed out that the use of a Pro Bowl can skew the numbers because the PB becomes a fan lovefest rather than an actual measure of productivity.  While I disagree to some extent as those initial Pro Bowls require strong play to get elected for the most part (players like Mike Vick notwithstanding)  at the end of a career those votes are solely based on reputation. To try to limit that this time I included All Pro nods as those are a much more difficult award to obtain. While favoritism comes into play it’s not to the extent of the Pro Bowl.

In my mind games played is a measure of being simply good enough to put a helmet on and play. In this case a special teams player is given just as much credit as Peyton Manning for simply suiting up. Getting games out of your draft picks is certainly important. Starting seasons separates those depth players from those top players on a team. If every player in your draft class turns into a starter you either did a terrific job or your team is really bad and has a lot of holes to fill. The Pro Bowl and All Pro nods measure the quality of the play itself. It’s one thing to be a starter, but it’s another to be a great starter, one of the best in the NFL. Obviously perennial all world players will get major scores for this.

I also did not compare to each individual draft class this time around as it was skewing the results when trying to pass an “eye test”.  For example Ed Reed under that format was the best draft pick of the sample period because he was dominant in what was a poor draft class. Reed is a great player but his numbers just don’t match others and it seemed unfair for him to be rated so high. Instead I took the average performance from 1993, which was when the cap began and the drafts shrunk in size, to 2006. The average draft pick over that timeframe has a career of 63.3 games played, 2.3 starting seasons, 0.33 Pro Bowls, and 0.09 All Pro nods. Obviously some of these players are still playing and the numbers will change slightly over time with good players from 05 and 06 being a bit understated but for the sake of this study I felt it was reasonable enough to include them.  Punters and kickers, who are given starting credit, are also overstated and should just be looked at as outliers.

To illustrate how this works I’ll use Ray Lewis who graded out as the top draft pick of the time period. Lewis finished his career with 228 games, 14 starting seasons, 13 Pro Bowls, and 7 All Pros. Those numbers would make him 2.6, 4.97, 38.3, and 77.1 times as productive in each category as the average draft pick. His total score would be 123 which I adjusted up by 4 to bring everyone up to a minimum of 0 giving him a 127 composite score.  The top 5 players were Lewis, Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Larry Allen, and Alan Faneca. Manning and Gonzalez will likely jump Lewis.  About 12.3% of all draft picks never played a game in the NFL.

Every players score was calculated and the draft slot score then averaged. Overall the 4th pick in the draft actually produced the most quality points. Just using a basic Excel regression we can get the best fit line and get the following to get our approximate values:

draft chart

Financial Situations

So keeping this in mind we can now come up with an expected player performance for our draft pick ranging from 21.936 for the first pick down to nothing for our final draft selections. Our rookie money we are spending is a blind investment for the expected return.  Obviously that cost is significantly reduced from the prior CBA draft. What I want to do is create a performance vs investment ratio (PVI) that measure the amount of expected performance above the average draft pick divided by the rookie contract cost of the slot compared to the average contract. A ratio below 1 indicates an overpriced pick and above 1 an underpriced pick. To compare with the old CBA I am using the 2010 APY’s for the players. This is not a perfect list since certain players hit rookie escalators and some did not but for the sake of comparison should be reasonable.  Where you see some strange spikes it likely means the pick was a QB or I had insufficient data.

pvi index

The change in the salary structure, specifically at the top of the draft, in the new CBA had significant changes on the true value of the first round, and in particular the top 10, draft picks. Under the old system the number 1 pick was incredibly overpriced compared to the rest of the draft. You paid 12.3 times the amount of the average player for Sam Bradford but were only expected to gain 5.6 times the performance over an average player. At that salary the only players to give you 12.3 times the average performance or greater out of the 1 slot were Peyton Manning and Orlando Pace,  in essence a 14% chance at making it worthwhile. Even taking the first three picks into account only 5 out of 42 selections (the other 3 being Julius Peppers, Marshall Faulk, and Tony Boselli all 2nd overall picks) hit the number. Under the new system the pay vs expected performance is almost equal. The pick is still a touch overpriced but now  it’s more reasonable of an expectation. 10 players of the first 42 selected have hit that threshold and a number of others are close.

In both cases your best bang for the buck comes in round 2 and the earliest stages of round 3. Based on salary being paid the most value is actually right at the top of round 3. That doesn’t mean a team should load up with players there it just means there is the least risk associated with the salary outlay and expected performance. Under the new CBA you can make a strong case to draft in the 8 slot and have a strong chance of justifying the investment. In the old CBA it would have been number 20 where the cost  started to match the production.

Prices begin to get overvalued again around the 140th pick in the draft. Some of that risk is balanced out by the fact that these draft picks contain minimal guaranteed money unlike the 1st and 2nd round selections, but in general the contract being signed is probably not worth the cost. Other than just throwing something against the wall to see if it sticks the 5th rounders and beyond are almost worthless commodities and stockpiling those picks is most likely not going to pay off.

High End Risk Minimization

Now of course you are paying a premium in all of these picks that I say are overvalued because of your expectation of greatness. Nobody goes into a draft and says “boy that guy we just drafted is going to be average”. In almost all cases you think you hit a home run.  While everyone has their own measuring stick for a great pick I think many will look at being a multi time Pro Bowler or All Pro as a sign of greatness.  As a guide here are the percentages of multi time Pro Bowlers and All Pros based on where they were selected. Please note that Round 1 means picks after 11.


Multi-Pro Bowl

Multi All- Pro


Avg Salary 2013

Avg Salary 2010

Top 5












Round 1






Round 2






Round 3






Round 4






Round 5






Round 6






Round 7






Looking at these percentages plus the PVI I would say that most teams are better off moving out of the top 5 or out of the top 10 entirely. In my opinion the real sweet spot to balance that risk and reward is in the 2nd round. It is great value for the price and you are still getting a decent probability of a Pro Bowl caliber player. The way the NFL slots salaries is not really commensurate with the drop in play. There is virtually no difference between the expected performance of the 32nd and 33rd pick yet the APY drops by about 20%. Between the 2nd and 3rd round the drop is a more reasonable 6.9%. It’s all about that status the NFL gives for being a 1st round pick and it is far too high of a price.

That being said if our goal is to hit a home run (and whose goal isn’t) teams are still far better off drafting in the meat of the 1st round. I base this on the ratio of pro bowls vs cost. Drafting in the top 5 only makes us 1.9 times more likely to find a multi time Pro Bowler and 2.1 times as likely to get the multi time All Pro yet we pay, on average, around 2.5 times as much for the selection . Here is how round 1 compares to every slot in the draft:

Increased Multi Pro Bowl

Increased Cost


Top 5




Top 10




Round 1




Round 2




Round 3




Round 4




Round 5




Round 6




Round 7




In every situation our ratio is above 1. This means we are paying far less for the reasonable chance of landing the multi time Pro Bowler. If you can trade out of the top 5 and pick up a mid round pick plus a second round pick you are going to have a far better chance of being successful and not screwing up your salary cap than if you remain in the top 5. Under such a scenario you are 0.75 times as likely as landing the great player but you pay 0.52 times the cost, factoring in the fact that the 2nd draft pick eliminates a minimum salaried contract. That improves our ratio from a 1.3 to 1.4. Throw in a 4th rounder and we improve to a 1.46. This is all in contrast to the old CBA where no first round pick justified the risk at all. The 2nd round was the rea where you had to move which is going to minimize the chance of hitting on the player.

Now there are plenty of teams who follow a draft philosophy of more is better and will constantly move around to maximize picks. Moving around, IMO, for 6th and 7th rounders is probably not worth the effort. Clearly there is almost no value to the 7th round pick. There is a distinct drop in high end quality between the 6th and 7th and as it stands the minimum salaries and small bonuses are not going to produce results that justify the salary. The 6th round is a little more reasonable as the PB chances are more or less the same as a 4th and 5th rounder but the overall cost to gain that benefit is probably not worth it. Stockpilers need to focus on rounds 3-5 to make the most effective use of their dollars. Trading down to gain 6th and 7th rounders is not going to pay off.

Going back to the 2006 CBA clearly the NFL was way off in their pay slotting. While it is better now there is still too high of a premium going to the top of the first round. While it would never happen (except internally with teams) the salary structures should be used to either upgrade or downgrade point totals on the draft charts teams use.  Bu teams are so in love with the chance of the number 1 pick and landing the next Peyton manning that most logical thinking goes out the window when they hand in the card and happily select David Carr or JaMarcus Russell. While failures to that level are not likely the odds were against the Texans and Raiders of ever finding a player worth the price tag.

While I did not touch on this here there is also something to be said for positional drafting. There are certain positions that have proven to be winners and losers in each round of the draft.  Considering the commitments teams are making in guaranteed money in the first two rounds of the draft if there is even a hint of a disagreement between two players teams should consider looking at the historical positional trends to further minimize the salary risk of the draft pick. Maybe we’ll touch on that in the future one day, but I think this is a nice little start with merging the salary cap and the draft.

If anyone is interested in the pick by pick PVIs, salaries, expected results, etc… just drop me a line and I can try to get you a spreadsheet or just post a table on the site. It might take me a few days to get it out but I’ll do my best to get it out. I’d also like to extend a special thanks to our contributor Ian Whetstone who had the 2010 rookie salary data in a far more useful format than I had. I only had to make some small changes to the top picks from that year to get a relatively accurate picture of the 2010 salaries



A Fair Value for QB Aaron Rodgers


With Aaron Rodgers supposedly deep in contract negotiations I thought it might be worth looking at what he should expect to make. I don’t want to bother going into statistics or anything like that. (If you want to read my piece on statistical measures to assign contract values you can click to it here). I just want to look at the marketplace and some trends and see where we go from here.

I think most people will agree that Rodgers is the best player in the game right now. He has the one Super Bowl win. He has the prolific passing numbers. The Packers are a great regular season team. When it comes to comparables for a contract the two players I want to look at are Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Rodgers does not have the pedigree Manning had, with Manning being considered one of the all time great draft prospects and pretty much coming out of the gate firing. Rodgers sat for a few years behind Brett Favre before getting his opportunity and making the people of Green Bay forget about Favre. It took Brees some time as well to get going, though he had chances he just was not an exceptional player until late in his Charger run and then took it to another level when he hooked up with Sean Payton in New Orleans.

I want to try to find some trends with contracts when coming up with a fair market price for Rodgers. In my mind Joe Flacco should be looked at similarly to Ben Roethlisberger.  Roethlisberger signed an extension back in 2008 that was worth around $14.6 million a year in new money. It represented around a 5% increase in what Manning had earned per year in his $98 million dollar contract signed in 2004. Roethlisberger didn’t have the cache of Eli Manning, selected number 1 overall and with a famous last name, who would eventually go on to be the market setter at the position. Roethlisberger did have enough success, even when labeled as a perfect situation QB due to his franchise, to push the market at a young age. Though the market this year has been stagnant overall Flacco was able to push slightly past Brees and about 4.6% past Manning’s deal with the Denver Broncos.

With Flacco playing the Roethisberger role I want Rodgers to now take the position of either Manning or Brees. Manning’s  2011 contract represented an 18.3% raise over Roethlisbergers’ new money from 2008. Brees 2012 new deal was a 36% raise. That puts the APY for Rodgers between 23.7 and 27.3 million a season. Now I know that $27.3 million is unrealistic and looking at Flacco’s contract I tend to think that the Brees number is looked at as somewhat of an outlier. If we push Manning into the top slot at $19.2 million we come up with a high value of $25.1 million a season.

From the Packers point of view I think they will want to look at Flacco as Eli Manning in terms of a data point. Using Manning’s $16.25 million as the market setting base the Rodgers deal would then be $21.6 million at the low end and $23.7 million at the high end. Looking at those two sets of numbers I would say the logical “fair market value” is $23.7 million, representing the high end for the Packers and lowest acceptable level for Rodgers.

In some ways Rodgers bargaining would probably be helped if Matt Stafford or Matt Ryan had been able to accomplish what Flacco did. Since those players have a much higher pedigree I tend to think they would have made more than Flacco in a comparable situation. They would clearly be the Eli Manning. Flacco might be, but its definitely not clear that he is.

In fairness Rodgers is at a big disadvantage because he has two years remaining on his contract that the Packers can force him to honor, but he isn’t talking about holding out and I think Green Bay wants to get a fair deal done. I would think Rodgers rebuttal is that he is far younger than Manning was in 2011 and Brees in 2012 and you are paying for a player in his prime not coming out of it. It is also in the Packers best interest to make the move now to lessen the cap blows and possibility that the market does increase with Stafford and Ryan up for new deals soon, not to mention Eli and Ben in line for new contracts within the next 2 years.  It makes for a very tidy 4 year deal that gets Rodgers two important things- top of the market money now and a chance to be a free agent again at the age of 35, an age where top QBs are clearly going to still make massive amounts of money barring a market correction.

Remember that if the Packers agree to a $23.7 million dollar deal they will also roll into it the 2 remaining years at $20.75 million. From the Packers point of view a 4 year extension is going to technically be a 6 year contract for about $19.26 million, which for salary cap purposes helps them greatly. Given the Packers current cap situation they can pack away over $20 million in cap dollars on Rodgers without issue. He already counts for just under $10 million and using another $10 million is not an issue. For the Saints, who paid Brees $40 million in year 1 the cash to cap ratio was 3.85:1. For Flacco it will be 4.4:1. These are cap killers for a team in the future. The Packers can probably be close a 2:1 ratio which is extremely beneficial for long term planning.

So it just seems like a deal that should make sense to happen for both sides right around that $24 million a year mark. Both sides I think gain from making the move now rather than letting it hang out there and hang over the head of the team and the player. Rodgers gets his injury protection and a chance at one more payday down the line while the Packers get their guy on a relatively cap friendly contract.


Earnings Comparisons: Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning


With Joe Flacco set to break the bank and become the highest paid player in the NFL I wanted to look back at the two players who are universally regarded as the best QBs of the generation and their contract history to see the difference in approach to the financials. Of course those two players are Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Both players had very different paths to the NFL. Peyton Manning was the number 1 overall pick in the draft in 1998. He was the most heralded prospect since John Elway 15 years earlier. Manning from day one was expected to be the most prolific passer in the NFL and lead the Indianapolis Colts to great heights. Brady was a non-descript 6th round draft pick in 2000. 198 players were selected before Brady. 6 QB’s came off the board first including “stars” such as Chris Redman and Tee Martin. Brady was expected to maybe be a backup to Drew Bledsoe.

The differential in draft status makes some of the financial comparisons between Manning and Brady difficult. The pay differential between a top pick and the 199th pick is gigantic. That discrepancy would have existed if Manning proved to be as bad as JaMarcus Russell. So to make thing a little more fair I want to look at each player as they moved into their extension years. We will start with Manning.

Peyton’s first contract ended in 2003 and he signed his first extension in 2004. Manning, at that stage of the game, was universally regarded as the best QB in the game, but lacked any type of playoff success having just lost to Brady and the Patriots and the year before suffering a 41-0 loss to the New York Jets. It was a 7 year contract worth $98 million dollars with just over $35 million coming in the first year of the contract. Manning and the Colts played the entire contract out all the way thru 2010.

By 2010 Manning had finally won one Super Bowl and had recently been to a second one that he lost.  There were some health concerns and he was well into his 30s, but the multi time MVP was still regarded as one of the top 2 or 3 in the NFL. He got paid as the best. This time it was a 5 year $90 million dollar deal with his agent again getting a massive payout on the front end with $26.4 million coming in the first year. That proved to be extremely smart as Manning was injured, never played  a game, passed go and collected his $26.4 million before being released. Manning signed a deal with the Broncos in 2012 worth up to $96 million. $18 million came in year 1 and as long as his neck is healthy he will earn another $40 million over the next two years.

Brady’s first new contract came in 2002, the year after winning the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP honors. He parlayed that into a deal worth just over $30 million. Quite a difference a few years makes as Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco parlayed their Super Bowl wins into record setting contracts. Granted those players had more time in the league than Brady who was still a relative unknown despite the trophy, but in todays game people are clamoring for huge raises for Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, players who have yet to accomplish as much as Brady had in his first real year of action. Its the way the game has changed.

Brady’s next extension came in 2005. By this point in time the Peyton vs Brady argument was probably at its peak. Brady had won 3 of the last 4 Super Bowls and always beat Manning head to head. He didn’t have the stats that Manning had but he had more success. Brady signed a modest $48.5 million dollar contract worth around $12.1 million a season at the time Manning was on a $98 million dollar deal worth $14 million a season. Think about that for a minute. 3 Super Bowls and 2 Super Bowl MVPs and he could not earn more than Manning. Eli took one Super Bowl MVP and lapped his brother. Flacco is about to take one Super Bowl title and pass Drew Brees. Brady wasn’t the top guy. Not even close.

In 2010 Brady signed another 4 year deal this time being the market setter with $18 million a year coming his way. It became the framework for the latest Manning contracts who could not surpass the APY with Indy but negotiated much better front end terms. Brady’s latest deal has been highly publicized as being well under market value.

Here is how the cash flows for the two players will compare post rookie deals. For the sake of comparison I will consider Brady’s first year payout to be in 2003 since that is when the extension officially kicked in. He received a signing bonus in 2002 but Ill add that to his cash payment in 2003.  Since all signs point to Manning checking out medically I am also including the last two years for him at $20 million. My assumption is he will retire after that point. Now I know some might say that Brady will still have $29 million set to kick in which is true but he is going to have to play for another 4 years to earn that and that changes the timeframes.

Brady Manning Career Earnings

Over the 11 year period Manning will outearn Brady by $31.275 million. Brady’s 11 years post rookie contract average about $13.739 million a year. Peyton is $16.582. Now some of this should be credited to the Patriots who have done a fantastic job of extending Brady early and staying ahead of the changes in payscale of the position to get him on the cheap. Some of the credit goes to Brady who clearly has not pushed as hard as he could to keep pace with the market. I think its also interesting to see how Manning is probably the guy really responsible for the current payouts in the QB market as there is now a pure premium paid for a QB compared to Brady’s first two extensions when it was not nearly the same kind of premium.

I think it also shows the big difference between having an absolute shark as an agent versus a good agent. Manning is repped by Tom Condon and CAA who are pretty much the premier QB agency. They go to battle in the negotiating room and usually come out on top. Brady’s team came to mutually beneficial agreements while Manning’s pretty much put the boots to the throats of the Colts and Broncos. For Brady to match Manning’s post rookie earnings he is going to either need the Patriots to renegotiate another deal after 2014 or he has to play thru at least 2018. It will take him 5 extra years to match Manning’s pay and if Manning goes beyond these next two guaranteed years the path becomes even longer for Brady. There will always be a debate as to who was better but financially there is no question as to who came out on top.

Link: Field Yates with the Official Breakdown of Tom Brady’s Deal

Field Yates of ESPN was able to build on Peter King’s report from yesterday and dig up the details on Bradys new extension.

The deal includes a $30 million signing bonus for the quarterback, which will be paid out over a period that extends to March 15, 2015, according to a league source.

Yates has alot more information in his article about the timing of the cash flows of the deal as well as the verification of the cap hits reported yesterday by Peter so its well worth clicking on the link and reading the full article.

Based on Yates’ numbers Brady will earn a guaranteed $11 million in cash payments this season, $17 million in 2014, and another $5 million before the 2015 League Year begins, bringing his cash total to $33 million for two seasons. Under his old contract the actual cash flows were set to be $10 million in 2013, $15 million in 2014, and $5 million prior to the start of the 2015 League Year.

Its really a spectacular deal for New England. Brady will only receive an extra $1 million in cash in 2013 and $2 million in 2014 over his prior deal. And for that $3 million he completely gave up any type of back end money he could have made down the line. Brady will be 38 years old when his non-guranteed extension years kick in at a salary of just $7 million. As a point of reference Peyton Manning at the same age in 2014 will earn $20 million, which should be fully guaranteed provided his neck checks out ok. Brett Favre was earning over $10 million a season at the age of 40 and that was before the QB salaries really escalated these past few years.

Maybe there is more to the deal than meets the eye on the backend of the contract, but Brady really saved the Patriots from dealing with some difficult salary cap decisions in 2013 and 2014. The Patriots will save $15 million in cap dollars over the next two years due to the restructure.