Sports | March 18, 2018 5:00 am

The Real Defining Factor of the NFL Offseason is Underpaid Quarterbacks

Teams across the league are finally learning its time to go all in if you have a great quarterback on a rookie contract.

Quarterback Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams. (Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
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This NFL offseason, the stories that have dominated the news cycles have been about Kirk Cousins signing an $86 million guaranteed deal, Case Keenum cashing in after a great season, and Sam Bradford joining the Cardinals. But the more important story of this year’s offseason is actually the underpaid quarterback. According to The Ringer, an elite quarterback on a cheap rookie deal is the best team-building gift in football history. The second-best gift is someone like Tom Brady or an elite quarterback who will play at a discount. The third best is an elite quarterback at the market rate. The inflating salary cap has made the first group of cheap quarterback who still win games more important than ever. Rookie quarterbacks have remained cheap despite the salary cap going up since the 2011 CBA changed the rookie pay scale. Three of the past six Super Bowls were won by teams who had quarterbacks on their rookie contracts. It is hard for teams to build a talented roster around a quarterback if the quarterback is taking up around 15 percent of the salary cap like Russell Wilson does on the Seahawks. No team whose top two players account for more than 21.5 percent of the cap has won the Super Bowl, according to The Ringer. But take the defending Super Bowl champs for instance. The Eagles’ cap was remarkably well-managed. No player accounted for more than 6.23 percent of the salary cap, with Carson Wentz signed to a rookie deal but playing like an MVP. The Los Angeles Rams are building an all-world secondary by trading for Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters this offseason. The only reason they can do that is because quarterback Jared Goff’s 199th-ranked salary-cap hit among all NFL players.