While catching up on tweets over the long weekend, this one from NBC’s Warren Sharp caught my eye.
lifetime earnings for QBs thru 2022:— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) May 30, 2022
$252M: E. Manning
$249M: P. Manning
$140M: Jimmy G
It’s not a shock that 44-year-old Tom Brady and 38-year-old Aaron Rodgers are at the top of the list. They’re great, and they’ve been playing for a long time. Jimmy Garoppolo at 16 stood out to me, and it made me realize how important it is for the Niners to load up around Trey Lance.
Jimmy G. got paid on the back of five games at the end of the 2017 season. We all know the story by now. He breathed life into a team going nowhere and gave them some real hope in an otherwise lost season. While it was true that the 49ers could have franchised him after that year instead of signing him to a long-term deal, the team instead gave him a big contract with multiple outs along the way. That’s the only contract Garoppolo has signed other than his rookie deal, and he was still the 16th highest-paid quarterback in the history of pro football.
By the time Trey Lance is eligible for a new deal, the average cost for a starting quarterback (excluding rookie contracts) is going to be around $30-$35 million per year. While the salary cap continues to rise, so too does the percentage of the cap eaten up by the quarterback. Right now, that is between 21% and 26% for the top of the market. Keep in mind, over the last 20 years, the quarterback of the Super Bowl champion has accounted for an average of just 7.47% of their team’s salary cap. Only 7 of the last 20 Super Bowl champion quarterbacks have consumed at least 10% of the team’s cap.
Now is the time for the 49ers to be loading up the roster around Trey Lance. I know there’s a lot of talent on the team already, but you can never have enough. That’s why continuing to hold on to a quarterback you don’t want never made sense. That money could have been spent on veteran additions (like James Bradberry or Jarvis Landry, for example) that would have strengthened the depth of this team to incredible levels.
Fortunately, there is still a little time for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch to do this. Lance can’t renegotiate his deal until after the 2023 season according to the CBA. So there will still be one more offseason for the 49ers to take advantage of his low salary. That is essentially putting all of your eggs in one basket, but that’s the best available path now that the impact players are off the board this offseason.
It is a credit to Shanahan, John Lynch, and all of the players that they were able to even reach a Super Bowl with a quarterback that wasn’t on a rookie contract. They never got the advantage of a QB on a cheap contract, and they still made it work. However, now that they have that chance, they shouldn’t let it slip through their fingers.