Another week. Another record-setting deal for an NFL quarterback. This time it was for Aaron Rodgers, and maybe now the bar has officially been set. He will reportedly get $103 million guaranteed and an average annual value of $33.5 million over four years.
That's more than Matt Ryan, who made more than Kirk Cousins, who topped Jimmy Garoppolo's record deal. All of that happened in the past seven months.
Quarterbacks are undoubtedly the most important individual players on a football field (and maybe in all of team sports), but here are this week's questions: How much is too much to spend on a QB, and would some (or most) NFL franchises be better off spending more on other positions?
First take: Michael Rand
Without adjusting for inflation, and assuming the reported numbers are correct as well as assuming about a $10-12 million yearly increase in the salary cap, I have Rodgers accounting for a little over 17 percent of the Packers' salary cap over the next four years.
Per numbers crunched last year by ESPN.com, that would put Rodgers at the very top of the NFL in terms of percent of a team's cap accounted for by a QB.
Cousins will take up about 15 percent with the Vikings over the length of his three-year deal — top 10, but not top five.
In both cases, that seems about right. Teams are getting what they paid for. But what if a QB underperforms or is injured (as heavily paid Colts QB Andrew Luck was last season)? It's a real risk-reward when paying a QB.
Chris Hine: I don't think you can pay enough for a franchise, top-tier quarterback. Having a top-tier quarterback gives you stability as a franchise for years.
If you don't have one, you're scrambling to find one in the draft or build up your roster around an average quarterback (see: Jacksonville Jaguars). But those kinds of rosters only give you a few years of a competitive window.
Every year Rodgers is upright, the Packers are contenders. The Falcons have made a Super Bowl and an NFC title game with Matt Ryan and are in the playoffs almost every season. The Patriots and Steelers need no explanation. If I'm an NFL GM, I'm gladly taking my owner's checkbook and handing a franchise quarterback what amounts to a blank check.
Rand: True. The real quandary is this: Aaron Rodgers isn't merely 2 percent better than other QBs (including Cousins), but that's how much more he's making (cap percentagewise) than others.
The bigger question, I suppose — and the one the Vikings asked and answered this offseason — is whether spending big on Cousins was a better idea than going with a lower-cost option. They've managed to keep the rest of their defensive core intact, but it will be tough to do forever.
Hine: I go back and forth on this issue depending on the week. This week, I think it's too tough to hold together a roster around an average QB for more than a few years, so give me the quarterback and I'll take my chances trying to draft my way/sign free-agent bargains to a decent enough roster to support him and win a Super Bowl or two.
Rand: Did you just channel your inner Rick Spielman?
Last word: Hine
Could I get his paycheck?
More Rand: startribune.com/RandBall
More Hine: startribune.com/NorthScore