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Are NFL Teams Regretting Contract Extensions To Quarterbacks?

Matt Ryan

Dale Zanine – USATODAY Sports

This past offseason five NFL teams signed their starting quarterback to a big-money, long-term contract extension. While we should reserve judgment on these contracts until they expire, the early returns have not been all that positive for most of the teams. This makes you wonder whether locking up those quarterbacks long-term for so much money was a wise move, especially with a deep and talented draft class at the quarterback position lined up for next year.

The Atlanta Falcons rewarded Matt Ryan with a big contract expecting to be on the verge of a trip to the Super Bowl with a nucleus of Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White along with the addition of Steven Jackson and the return of Tony Gonzalez for one more season. But injuries on offense and a bad defense have derailed that plan and turned them into one of the worst teams in the NFL this year.

The Falcons are now farther from the Super Bowl than they’ve been since they drafted Ryan, and they have some serious rebuilding to do, especially on defense. The trio of Ryan, Jones, and White was supposed to lead the way to a Super Bowl, and they may have only one more year to do it as Ryan’s new contract will make it tough to keep both Jones and White when they both become free agents after the 2014 season.

Joe Flacco, some might say deservedly, received a contract extension after leading the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory last season. But with so much money going to Flacco, the Ravens had to trade away Anquan Boldin, Flacco’s most trustworthy receiver. With Boldin gone and a couple of key injuries, Flacco is now lacking the skill players he needs to succeed. As a result, the Ravens are battling for the final wild card spot in the AFC and are likely to miss the playoffs this year.

It’s hard to argue against Aaron Rodgers deserving his big contract as he’s undoubtedly one of the league’s top-5 quarterbacks. But the Green Bay Packers can no longer afford an incredible collection of skill players that made Rodgers’ job easy when he led the Packers to a Super Bowl win. With injuries to a few skill players this year Rodgers has been left without much help around him, and with him missing a few games due to injury as well it has all but sunk the Packers’ playoff hopes.

Tony Romo has a big contract and more than enough weapons around him, but it’s still not translating into consistent play and winning for the Dallas Cowboys — even in the NFC East, which is easily the weakest division in the NFL this year. The Cowboys’ struggles aren’t all on Romo, but a quarterback with his talent making big-time money should be able to overcome some of his team’s deficiencies. Until Romo leads the Cowboys on a meaningful playoff run, skepticism on his contract will be justified.

The Detroit Lions shouldn’t be complaining about the play of Mathew Stafford this season following his big contract extension. But the Lions are far from being Super Bowl favorites and will likely win the NFC North by default, despite committing to a quarterback that they want and having arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson. Detroit needs to make significant improvement in several areas before they’re ready to compete alongside the best teams in the NFC, and that could prove difficult with so much money tied to Stafford.

Obviously all five teams were justified in giving big-money contract extensions to their franchise quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean they had to hand out those extensions. Most of these contracts are not off to a good start, and it’s possible that years down the line the teams will regret making long-term commitments to a few of these question marks. If next year’s draft class produces several budding stars at the quarterback position that could have been on the table if not for the contract extension they gave to their quarterback this past offseason it will only heighten the scrutiny on these guys.

Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com.  He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer.  Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.