WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Seattle Seahawks’ shocking 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl has some fans still reeling from Sunday, but it’s the team’s financial good fortune that still has salary cap wizards salivating.
The Seahawks have maximized profit from their 25-year-old quarterback’s rookie contract – he only made $526,217 in 2013, according to Forbes, and cannot renegotiate until after the upcoming season, during which he’ll make $662,434.
With all that money they’ve saved — what most Super Bowl-winning teams spend on a franchise quarterback — the Seahawks were able to appropriate to other areas of their football team – like their staunch defense, which put up a wall against Denver and Peyton Manning, only allowing 8 points to get past.
So it begs the question: if not one other team finds the next Russell Wilson in the 3rd round of a future draft, can a team still be carried to the Super Bowl by an average to above-average quarterback?
The logical follow-up to that is – considering what Seattle was able to do with that extra money – does any team have the guts to let a franchise quarterback walk in free agency, as soon he’s due to become the next $100-million man (the type of salary elite quarterbacks now command in the NFL)?
“I don’t think you’re gonna have GMs who would have the guts to try it,” said Joel Corry, a salary cap expert and former sports agent, to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny on Tuesday.
“It would take a GM with a ton of equity built up, probably like an Ozzie Newsome, and he didn’t even do it, for someone to try it,” Corry said. “I think the team which had the best chance to do it, but missed the opportunity this year — that was Chicago. Jay Cutler’s cap number right now is $22.5 million for 2014.”
“They could have gone with McCown, let either Cutler walk in Free Agency or franchise him and tried to trade him, and get something in return, but they didn’t go that route,” he said. “They could have used that additional cap room to rebuild a very, now shaky defense.”
The conversation is an interesting one to have, as it forces one to look at the future of NFL contracts, now a few years removed from the 2011 CBA which instituted the NFL’s rookie wage scale.
“Who are the last two teams really to win with subpar mediocre quarterback play?” Corry posited. “You have to go back to the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and also the Ravens with Trent Dilfer – and even they tried to upgrade with Elvis Grbac and it didn’t work out. Conventional thinking is, when you’re close, you have a Super Bowl window to win, and you do everything you can to maximize your chances to win, even if it means mortgaging the future on your salary cap.”
It would seem for now because of rare circumstance, Seattle has an extended window of opportunity to win, and from which they capitalized the second the window opened.
And until a team is willing to step out on the ledge and let a franchise quarterback walk, or a team finds the next late-round needle in a haystack, Seattle will continue to be a reflection of the best case scenario.