Rivers Gets New Deal; NFL Rookies Still Overpaid

As we mentioned this morning, Philip Rivers just got a monster new contract to remain the Chargers’ kinda-douchey quarterback. The important particulars: 6 years, $93 million. Well, check that - there’s no way he earns all $93 million.

Philip Rivers Sad Face
(”No sir, I don’t like it.”)

That’s because he’s only guaranteed $38 million, and that figure’s likely a lot closer to the amount Rivers will actually get out of the contract than $93 million. Hey, it’s the nature of the game. Guys get released - or their contracts “restructured” - all the time. And Rivers was paid something approximating a fair market price, considering Eli Manning just got $107 million. But there’s one aspect of this that’s still troubling.

That’s the fact that Rivers, for the boatload of money he did receive, only got as much guaranteed money as if he’d been drafted 4th in 2009 instead of 2004.

Allow us to explain.

Rivers’ contract is somehow worth less guaranteed money than Matthew Stafford’s, which gives the #1 pick $41 million guaranteed ($72m overall). This, of course, is despite the fact that Stafford had yet to spend a second on an NFL roster when he was given that money. Yes, it’s a good-faith deal that the Lions are committed to and invested in Stafford’s success and all that.

But why on earth would a rookie at a position - one that’s fraught with severe underperformance among similar draft picks over the last 10 years - deserve more guaranteed money than Rivers, who is still young but a proven, productive commodity at the same position? Seriously, if you polled every GM as to who they’d rather have over the next six years (in other words, the length of each contract), the vast majority would choose Rivers, right?

Who would you rather commit to having behind center for the next six years?

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Now, Mark Sanchez was drafted fifth this year, plus he made the decision to sign early after being drafted. Wise, if not immediately financially advantageous. He’ll receive $28 million guaranteed over five years, or $5.6 million per year guaranteed with incentives that can push it closer to $9-10 million per. But let’s stick with $5.6m. Here’s the way it breaks down for the three quarterbacks in guaranteed money per year. Oh, and just for S’s and G’s, let’s add the other picks from the top 5 this year:

1. Stafford ($6.9 million)
2. Jason Smith ($6.6 million)
3. Tyson Jackson ($6.2 million)
4. Aaron Curry
($5.8 million)
(2004) Rivers ($6.2 million)
5. Sanchez ($5.6 million)

Rivers is basically slotted perfectly in that list. Yes, he’s getting $400,000 more guaranteed than Curry, but Rivers is a quarterback, and Curry’s an OLB. QBs tend to get paid more, y’know.

And yet there shouldn’t be an unbiased observer out there that thinks this is a meritous distribution of contract money. Rivers has earned his money, and the two rookie quarterbacks simply have not. This is ridiculous.