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NFL Notes: Capping QB's Seems Unlikely

The owners reportedly are interested in establishing a salary cap for quarterbacks but that’s unlikely to happen.


The NFL owners are quite adept at figuring out ways to hold onto their money, and it appears as if they're discussing a new idea to help them do just that.

Although reportedly just in the preliminary stages, the possibility of instituting a salary cap for the quarterback position has been broached. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero appeared on "The Rich Eisen Show" on June 18 and explained how the recent mega-deals being signed by quarterbacks has caused the owners to come together to try to figure out some alternatives.

"There certainly has been discussion within the league, among certain owners, about even the idea of a quarterback cap, that at some point, you want quarterback numbers to not go over a certain percentage of your salary cap," Pelissero told Eisen. "To my knowledge, that really hasn't gained traction, in part because so many teams have paid their quarterbacks.

"And if you went to suddenly an NBA model, where all of a sudden you have the max and the super-max [contracts], and there's really only a couple levels that guys can get paid at, it kind of changes the dynamics in terms of how you set yourself up salary cap-wise and whatnot."

The huge deals signed recently by Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence, the latter in particular raising some eyebrows, has gotten the owners to take notice. It wasn't long ago that many teams around the league were reportedly disappointed with Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam's decision to guarantee Deshaun Watson's deal due to the fear of establishing an unwanted precedent.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass during an OTA practice, Tuesday, May 28, 2024.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass during an OTA practice, Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Now, even an inconsistent quarterback like Lawrence received a contract with an average annual value of $55 million. But in reality, the Jaguars will likely view that deal as a bargain in the coming years as quarterback salaries continue to escalate. Miami's Tua Tagovailoa is in line for a new deal, while Houston's C.J. Stroud will no doubt be cashing in when he's eligible down the road.

"It does give some people pause, but it's also a reflection that the quarterback market, like the salary cap, is going to continue to go up," Pelissero added. "So, the longer you wait, the higher these numbers are probably going to be, absent some team convincing a player to take a sub-market deal, which is really hard to do in 2024."

According to the web site Spotrac, the top 16 contracts based on average annual salary belong to quarterbacks and the top 11 based on total money do as well. Those numbers will only rise as more deals are done in the coming seasons, which is why the owners are likely discussing alternatives.

But the idea of capping quarterbacks seems unrealistic. First, it's hard to separate players based on position in a league that fosters teamwork above all. And the logistics would seem tough to navigate as well. Would the quarterbacks be capped in terms of percentage of the current cap, or would it be completely separate from the rest of the team altogether?

If it's the latter, then that would represent an even bigger advantage for the team's lucky enough to have elite quarterbacks. One drawback of having a truly worthy franchise quarterback, as minor as it may be, is the percentage of cap space he takes up. It can be difficult to pay high-end talent to surround those quarterbacks, which can help level the playing field.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) participates in a drill during practice, Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) participates in a drill during practice, Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

Obviously, that hasn't hurt teams like Kansas City, Buffalo or Baltimore, each of which has a high-priced star quarterback yet have competed for titles in recent seasons. But at least those teams lacking a star quarterback (San Francisco) have the ability to spend big elsewhere in order to compete, which the Niners have done well over the past two seasons. If the Chiefs could simply pay Patrick Mahomes separately from the rest of the team, then Kansas City would have the luxury of additional cap space to add pieces around him.

That scenario would be highly unlikely as it would theoretically run counter to the owners' goal of saving money in the first place. Pelissero didn't offer any specifics on how the QB cap would work, but it's hard to imagine the teams agreeing to pay more. The more likely proposal would be something like simply capping the percentage of space a quarterback can account for, which surely wouldn't go over well with the Players' Association.

Either way it seems like a hard sell, which is why it would be a long shot. But given the way the league tends to figure out ways to institute new ways to earn revenue, it can't be ruled out.

New Patriot Way

Eliot Wolf and Jerod Mayo have spoken at length about the desire to develop young talent and have been able to retain several players during their first offseason together. Rhamondre Stevenson became the latest Patriots to receive an extension, joining Christian Barmore as players who cashed in a year before they were set to hit free agency.

Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Stevenson received a four-year deal with a reported $36 million with almost half of that ($17 million) guaranteed. On the surface it appeared to be a steep price to pay for a second contract for a running back as $9 million annually puts Stevenson sixth in the league at his position. However, the $17 million guarantee is the number to focus on, as $4.25 million per season is much more palatable.

Many of the highly paid running backs also contribute greatly to the passing game, and Stevenson has done that over the past two seasons. ESPN's Mike Reiss broke down the top receiving backs and Stevenson's 107 receptions ranks sixth during that time.

However, each of the five with more catches – Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Rachaad White and Joe Mixon – all possess much more explosiveness as receivers. Each averaged at least a full yard more than Stevenson's 6.2-yard average per catch, and only Kamara (three) had fewer than five receiving touchdowns compared to Stevenson's one. So, while Stevenson racked up a lot of catches, rarely did those result in substantial plays like many of his contemporaries have routinely turned in.

The contract seems a bit steep based on his production to this point but it's not going to break the bank or represent any sort of hindrance in the future. It's a perfectly fine deal, and one that continues to show how important Wolf and Mayo feel it is to keep working with players they're comfortable with.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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