With the Super Bowl coming up, let’s dig deeper into what it takes to take home a ring. No, we’re not looking into heart and passion and hard work, just the economics of success.
In the past 2 decades, the best way to boost your odds of a championship is to have a QB on a rookie contract… or Tom Brady. Since the salary cap was introduced in 1994, no team has ever won a Super Bowl when paying their QB more than 13.1% of their budget.
Quite simply, too many of the best names in the game make too much money to be successful. There is not enough to spread across the rest of the team.
There is no doubt that the QB is the most important position on the team but that doesn’t always translate to championship wins. The teams with Dak and Rodgers are among the best but struggle to become the best of the best.
Why? Quite simply they are overpaid. While the QB influences success more than any player, their contracts overestimate just how influential they are to winning. After all, in a team game, success relies on more than just one player. There are just over 50 players on an NFL roster splitting up US$182.5m. Nine teams are paying their Quarterback more than 10% of the salary cap this year. Only four made the playoffs this year.
Mahomes recently signed a 12 year, US$500m contract. He is the face and future of the league but that automatically puts his Kansas City Chiefs above that 13.1% for the foreseeable future.
One of the reasons for Brady’s sustained success wasn’t just the fact he was an incredible athlete, but he also took contract discounts so the team could afford to field a star-studded lineup. It’s estimated that Brady sacrificed up to US$100m by signing reduced contracts.
Rookie QBs spend 4 years on a heavily discounted contract. Mahomes won the Championship in 2020 costing the team just 2.2% of their budget. Joe Burrow enters this weekend costing the Bengals around 5% of their salary cap. For reference, his competitor Matt Stafford is earning just under 13.1%.
All this saved money can go towards paying the defence and other parts of the team… after all, it is a team game.