The NFL offseason has already been a whirlwind, and we’ve seen significant movement at the most important position in pro sports, quarterback, for the second straight year.
In 2020, Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two years and $50 million, Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers for three years and $63 million and Philip Rivers signed with the Indianapolis Colts for one year and $25 million. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill returned to their prior teams for two years and $66 million and four years and $118 million, respectively.
There were middling deals, too, but Cam Newton going to the New England Patriots for a maximum of about $7 million on a one-year deal was the only veteran contract for a starter that was beneath $20 million per year on average. If you wanted an established quarterback, even if that player wasn’t elite, you were paying up — and the rest of the roster be damned.
Fast forward to 2021, and things have changed some. With the exception of Dak Prescott, who signed a deal that qualifies him as a superstar quarterback both on and off the field, other starting-caliber quarterbacks were acquired in free agency for far less than Cousins, Tannehill or even Bridgewater on a per-year basis.
Andy Dalton’s contract with the Chicago Bears was for one year and $10 million. Newton’s new deal with the Patriots was also for one year, this time for up to about $14 million dollars. After serving as backup quarterbacks for much of 2020, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick signed one-year deals for similar money with the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Football Team, respectively. Even Ben Roethlisberger, after a pay cut, will be in the range of about $14 million in 2021, representing a significant pay cut from previous years.