Return of the Rush.
Flashback to 2012...
It's the spring of 2012, and the Baltimore Ravens find themselves in an ugly situation.
The rookie contract of quarterback Joe Flacco has just run out.
Joe Flacco had been good, but never great up until that moment, but during that off-season, something crazy happened.
Flacco went on a tear, throwing for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions on his way to delivering the Ravens a Super Bowl.
Was it a fluke?
Was it a sign of things to come?
The Ravens didn't know.
What they did know was that his contract was up, and many teams would be willing to break the bank for his services.
So they gave Flacco a six year, 120 million dollar contract.
Good for Joe, right?
But it wasn't good for Baltimore.
Unfortunately, Flacco's numbers really haven't gone up since then.
He still hasn't passed for 30 touchdowns or 4,000 yards, and he hasn't played to the level of his contract.
Annnnnd other teams have noticed.
Guys say, "Hey, I'm better than Joe Flacco. Look at my numbers. Look what I do for this team! I deserve to make more than he does".
And when contract time comes... They do.
Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill, and Russell Wilson are all guys who have gotten monster contracts since Flacco signed his extension.
Are any of those guys really elite?
Hell, some of those guys shouldn't even be starting in this league.
So... What's the problem?
So what, guys get paid.
They're NFL players.
The demand is high, why not keep throwing cash at them?
Because the cap exists.
Because there's only so much money each team has to spend.
If every quarterback makes more than the last guy, these contracts are going to be absurd.
Hell, in 2016, Russell Wilson is going to have a cap hit of 18.5 million dollars.
It takes years to put teams together, and over that time, contracts expire.
Look at the Seahawks.
They've put together a great team full of Superstars!
You've got Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Cliff Avril, KJ Wright, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor are all great players... who want to be paid as such.
If you pay each guy what they think they deserve... You're going to run out of money.
You're going to have to lose some players.
But here's the thing...
The Seahawks have won the last two NFC Championships...
And while Wilson has been a huge piece... He wasn't really the reason they won.
A stifling defense and a punishing run offense have helped the Hawks bully themselves to the top.
Now they've invested all of this money in Wilson... and a bunch of players still wanna get paid. Russell Okung, Brandon Mebane, and Bruce Irvin are all looking at contract years.
If the Hawks lose pieces, they might lose their strengths.
Suddenly they can't control the trenches.
Suddenly they can't run the ball.
Suddenly they can't pressure the passer.
That's more pressure on Wilson to win games, more opportunities for the opposing offense to move the ball, and suddenly... The Seahawks aren't elite anymore.
So I pose a question...
If we're being honest, there's a strange trend with Super Bowl winning QBs.
Before I explain, I wanna drop some numbers on you.
In 2015, 11 quarterbacks will make at least 15 million dollars.
The most any Super Bowl winning QB has made over the last ten years?
By Tom Brady last year.
He was the 14th highest paid QB, behind the likes of Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, and Colin Kaepernick.
Tom Brady had previously taken a huge pay cut for the Patriots, originally with the intention of signing Wes Welker, or additional weapons on offense.
Now, the Patriots didn't spend that money on Welker or receivers, but they were able to bring in corners Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, who solidified a shaky defense.
Get where I'm coming from?
QBs take up the most space.
The QBs who take a pay cut, or aren't hogging the salary cap leave the team open to spread the wealth around.
When the teams spread the wealth around, the team is better, and as such, more successful.
So... Here's my question.
Why not recommit to the run?
"It's a QB driven league"
But the running game isn't extinct by any means.
In 2012, Adrian Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards and lead the Vikings to the playoffs by himself.
Hell, Marshawn Lynch has more stake in the last two NFC Championships than Russell Wilson does.
I wonder, and this is just a thought, if we're going to see more teams recommit to the run as A. True Franchise QBs are expensive and hard to find, and B. It becomes easier to find good backs.
Elite runningbacks are hard to find, but even the very best aren't making quarterback money.
Let the Alex Smith's and Andy Dalton's of the world hit free agency.
Find guys who can convert the occasional third down and invest in defense and the run game.
Think I'm talking crazy?
Come back to me in a few years when Andrew Luck has bazillions of dollars and a couple MVPs with no rings while guys like Big Ben and Russell Wilson continue to stockpile Lombardi's.