There are several things that have really been getting on my nerves lately. The first thing is some people feeling the need every time the 2020 NFL season is mentioned to say “if there is a season.” We get it. It’s a possibility. But let’s keep looking forward without constantly having to be reminded.
Another thing which really drives me crazy is certain topics which continually hijack other topics. I get really annoyed when the conversation about the Steelers depth at safety turns into someone going on a rant about how the Steelers head coach needs to be fired. Really? It has to be brought up in every setting?
The one which has bothering me a lot right now is the continued ridiculous talks around former Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston and the fact that he is still a free agent. For some reason, a group of fans are insisting it is the wise decision for the Steelers to bring him in. It doesn’t help that some members of the national media, one of which started the whole talking point in the first place, keep throwing fuel on the fire about the crazy idea. I know some of you reading this may very well agree with bringing him in. But, in my honest opinion, it’s not a wise decision. It doesn’t make sense. And frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it. This is exactly why I wish he would just sign with somebody already so I wouldn’t have to hear about it anymore.
But since I’m the one who brought up the topic, I guess it’s time to explain why the whole issue does not make sense. I’ve already outlined the idea that the Steelers would sign a back up quarterback if they felt the money invested with aid in winning a Super Bowl in 2020. If they haven’t made the move, it’s because they don’t think that is where the money should go. And I believe it is the wise choice.
Yes, it’s obvious the Steelers do not have anywhere close to the salary cap space to sign Winston to the contract he’s looking for at this time. But as free agency pushes on, the amount he may be willing to play for must continue to drop. How far would it have to go in order to get him in to the Steelers locker room in 2020?
Honestly, it’s going have to be at or below a $2 million salary cap hit for this season.
For those of you screaming about the Steelers needing to improve their backup quarterback situation, I understand your frustration. Based on the play in 2019, I understand why people are not encouraged. Do I think perhaps one of the young quarterbacks on the Steelers roster could develop into an adequate backup? I do. Do I know which one it would be? Not for sure. But I’m sure one of them could eventually.
Those people screaming for Jameis Winston are really just being selfish. There, I said it. Instead of thinking about using every penny possible towards winning the Super Bowl in 2020, you would rather have an insurance policy to make games “more watchable” should Ben Roethlisberger suffer another injury this season. But this isn’t how things work in the NFL. When you decide to pay a quarterback that much money, you are riding with them all the way.
Some others choose to focus on how the Steelers couldn’t manage to sign a backup quarterback with their current salary cap situation, or how Wintson does not have the numbers which shows he is the answer. In fact, DK Pittsbugh Sports’ Dale Lolley wrote a great piece on the subject. Instead, I’m going to focus on why they wouldn’t want to spend any more money on the position rather than invest it in something else they felt was necessary. So for this exercise, we are going to look at the 14 NFL teams, the Steelers included, who have a quarterback on their roster with a salary cap number greater than $20 million for the 2020 season according to overthecap.com.
Before diving in to all the teams, I’m going to mention the special exception of the Seattle Seahawks. Right now Russell Wilson has a $31 million cap hit for 2020. This seems like it would be a team who we could draw comparisons with, but right now they don’t have another quarterback under contract. So looking at how much the Seahawks spend on a backup quarterback is pointless because, at this time, they don’t have one.
Of the other 13 remaining teams, the one who stands out the most is the Indianapolis Colts. By signing Philip Rivers this offseason, the Colts now I have two quarterbacks on the roster with more than a $20 million salary cap hit in 2020. This is a very unusual situation, but it is mainly due to their new signing. They are definitely the outlier when it comes to the quarterback situation.
The next most money spent on a team’s second quarterback for 2020 is the Las Vegas Raiders who just signed Marcus Mariota for $9.125 million as a salary cap hit for 2020. But with Derek Carr as their quarterback, who can really blame them?
There were two teams spending a large of money on their quarterback in 2020 who offered restricted free agent tenders to the next highest paid quarterback on the roster. The New Orleans Saints gave a first-round tender worth $4.64 million to Taysom Hill while the Dallas Cowboys gave an original-round tender worth $2.133 million to Cooper Rush. I’m sure a large number of you did exactly what I just did there and asked yourself, “Who?”
Of the remaining teams on the list, the only team who has a salary cap hit of more than $2 million on their second quarterback is the Washington Redskins. When you have $21.4 million of your salary cap on quarterback Alex Smith who was injured in 2018, it ends up being on unnecessary byproduct of the situation. So it is actually the Redskins current projected starter in Dwayne Haskins who is counting $3.28 million against the cap.
Of the eight remaining teams, all of which have their second quarterback at $2 million or less against the salary cap, half of them are less than $1 million. So of all the NFL teams taking at least a $20 million cap hit on a QB, the ones using more than $2 million on their second highest paid quarterback are two teams who offered RFA tenders, two teams who a player counting over $20 million is no longer the starter, and one team who paid a high price for their backup because some feel their first option is not actually an NFL starting-caliber quarterback. Everybody else isn’t investing much for their reserves.
As you can see, spending a lot of money on a back up quarterback to “feel better “it’s not the answer for most NFL franchises. For those still wanting to see a better product in case Ben Roethlisberger goes down, I understand where you’re coming from. But investing significant money which could help the team win a championship by giving it to a player who you actually want to see on the field would be the wiser decision. Because, frankly, if you have a quarterback who counts more than $20 million against the salary cap, you should want to see them on the field for every important snap.
So there is the case laid out even deeper against signing a player such as Jameis Winston. If only he could get on with it and sign with the Chargers, the Patriots, or another team where he could possibly compete to start, it would be much easier than to hear his name constantly mentioned. Then again, if he did, chances are all I would hear about then is Cam Newton.