As Neal Coolong notes, rankings will always have a special place in the hearts of professional sports pundits and fans alike. It's how we whittle away the lonely dark times that aren't the months between September and January, and how we attempt to organise and quantify a huge number of variables that we aren't necessarily able to prove.
Recently ESPN polled 26 GM's, executives and talent evaluators in order to create an individual ranking of the 32 best quarterbacks in the NFL. Additionally, they created four tiers with which to separate the quarterbacks further.
Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady all found themselves in tier 1.
In response to ESPN's rankings, Jason Fitzgerald at Over the Cap created a comparison using four salary tiers, in an attempt to determine whether the consensus opinion on quarterbacks matched their price tag. Rookies were not included in the discussion since their salary is predetermined due to the CBA.
Below is a table of the four salary tiers Fitzgerald uses in his article.
Average Per Year
Unsurprisingly Tom Brady has the biggest ranking differential, +12, after signing his new, extremely team friendly deal with the New England Patriots. Whilst he is ranked joint first in ESPN's rankings, his $11,400,000 salary places him in the third tier for starting quarterback earnings. That's one more accolade Tom Brady can add to his already impressive collection of awards, he's the best value for money in the NFL.
The worst value for money, again rather unsurprisingly, is Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco is placed tenth in ESPN's rankings and included in tier 2, but is the third most compensated quarterback in the NFL with a salary of $20,100,000, placing him firmly in tier 1.
Flacco's -7 differential was closely followed by Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler, both at -6.
No one tell Ben Roethlisberger's agent, but Fitzgerald's comparison of ESPN's rankings and his own salary tiers indicates that the quarterback should immediately demand a pay rise. His average salary of $14,664,417 places the quarterback in tier 3 with the 12th highest salary of all the quarterbacks, whilst being placed seventh in performance by ESPN.
Roethlisbergers differential of +6 is beaten only by Tom Brady, and matched only by Phillip Rivers.
These rankings are not actually proof of anything ,they are strictly academic in nature. Steelers fans will always think Roethlisberger is underrated, Roethlisberger probably always thinks he doesn't get paid enough and absolutely no one needed convinced that Joe Flacco gets paid to much.
That said, it is interesting that in a scenario where many feel that Roethlisberger has been underrated, he is still by far one of the best bargains in the NFL ,comparatively speaking.