Other NFC South QBs lag in salary

July, 11, 2012
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
All the talk about Drew Brees‘ quest for a new contractthat will make him the highest-paid player in the NFL got me thinking about quarterback salaries and average per year.It remains very likely that, sometime between now and Monday afternoon, Brees and the Saints will work out a contract that pays him somewhere around an average of $20 million per season. That would put Brees on top of the list of quarterback pay. He’s earned that honor.But what about the rest of the NFC South quarterbacks?

First off, let’s be clear that none of them are at the same level as Brees. But two of them are likely to come up for contract extensions sooner rather than later and Brees could help raise the bar.

As it stands right now, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is tied for No. 13 in average per year at $11.25 million. Ryan’s contract currently runs through the 2013 season and there have been some rumblings the Falcons could start looking to extend him. Unless he goes out and wins the Super Bowl this season, I don’t think Ryan falls into the category of elite quarterbacks, but I think it would take an average of somewhere between $14 million and $16 million a season to lock him up.

Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman ranks No. 22 with a $5.24 million average per year. Freeman’s coming off a tough season, but still has plenty of upside and also has a contract that expires after the 2013 season. If the Bucs really believe he is their franchise quarterback, they might be wise to try to extend him before Freeman gets a chance to get back on the field and really drive his price tag into the upper echelon. Then again, the Bucs might want to wait a bit to see if Freeman can recapture his style of play from the 2010 season before making any big commitment.

Carolina’s Cam Newton is No. 21 with a $5.506 million average salary. Although he was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, Newton’s first contract was less than a lot of guys drafted in the years just ahead of him because the league put in new rules last year that limit rookie contracts. If Newton continues to play like he did as a rookie, he could be looking at numbers like Brees a few years down the road.

I’ve assembled a list of the top 32 quarterbacks, based on average salary per year. Here it is:

Quarterback Salaries and Average Per Year

Quarterback Team Salary
Peyton Manning Broncos $19.2 million
Tom Brady Patriots $18 million
Eli Manning Giants $16.25 million
Michael Vick Eagles $16 million
Philip Rivers Chargers $15.3 million
Jay Cutler Bears $14.7 million
Ben Roethlisberger Steelers $14.66 million
Mark Sanchez Jets $13.492 million
Sam Bradford Rams $13 million
Aaron Rodgers Packers $12.704 million
Kevin Kolb Cardinals $12.422 million
Matthew Stafford Lions $12.25 million
Tony Romo Cowboys $11.25 million
Matt Ryan Falcons $11.25 million
Carson Palmer Raiders $10.75 million
Ryan Fitzpatrick Bills $9.833 million
Matt Cassel Chiefs $9.67
Alex Smith 49ers $8 million
Matt Hasselbeck Titans $6.67 million
Matt Flynn Seahawks $6.5 million
Cam Newton Panthers $5.506 million
Josh Freeman Buccaneers $5.24 million
Joe Flacco Ravens $4.76 million
Tarvaris Jackson Seahawks $4 million
Jason Campbell Bears $3.5 million
Kyle Orton Cowboys $3.5 million
Chad Henne Jaguars $3.375 million
David Garrard Dolphins $3.35 million
Jake Locker Titans $3.147 million
Seneca Wallace Browns $3.067 million
Blaine Gabbert Jaguars $3 million
Tyler Thigpen Bills $3 million