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A closer look at the performance of top paid QBs over the past 5 years

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

My last piece looking at the QB cap hits among championship contenders for the past decade drew considerable interest, and spurred some excellent back and forth in the comments section. One of the requests made by some of the commenters was to take a closer look at how the top compensated quarterbacks, as a function of their salary cap consumption percentage, actually performed over the past several years.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve chosen to look at how the top 5 quarterbacks in each of the last 5 NFL seasons performed. Below, I provide each of the quarterbacks, the percentage of salary cap consumed by their salary in the given year, and their team’s record and playoff results, if they got that far. As in the previous article, all data is drawn from

Wild Card Round - San Diego Chargers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

2017 (4 missed playoffs. One Divisional Round loss)

Joe Flacco - 15% - Went 9-7. Missed playoffs.

Matt Ryan - 14.1% - Went 10-6. Lost in Divisional Round.

Carson Palmer - 14% - Went 8-8. Missed playoffs.

Kirk Cousins - 13.5% - Went 7-9. Missed playoffs.

Eli Manning - 11.7% - Went 3-13. Missed playoffs.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

2018 (3 missed playoffs. Two playoff losses)

Jimmy Garoppolo - 15.6% - Went 4-12. Missed playoffs.

Matt Stafford - 14.6% - Went 6-10. Missed playoffs.

Joe Flacco - 14.1% - Went 10-6. Made playoffs. Lost in Wild Card round (Lamar Jackson went 6-1).

Derek Carr - 13.7% - Went 4-12. Missed playoffs.

Drew Brees - 13.4% - Went 13-3. Made playoffs. Lost in Conference Championship.

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Set Number: X86722 TK1 R11 F116

2019 (3 missed playoffs. Two playoff losses)

Matt Stafford - 15.8% - Went 3-12-1. Missed playoffs.

Kirk Cousins - 15.1% - Went 10-6. Made playoffs. Lost in Divisional Round.

Aaron Rodgers - 14.9% - Went 13-3. Made playoffs. Lost in Conference Championship.

Ben Roethlisberger - 12.7% - Went 8-8. Missed playoffs.

Philip Rivers - 12.3% - Went 5-11. Missed playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

2020 (2 missed playoffs. 2 playoff losses. One Super Bowl win).

Russell Wilson - 15.5% - Went 12-4. Made playoffs. Lost Wild Card.

Dak Prescott - 14.4% - Went 6-10. Missed playoffs.

Jared Goff - 14.1% - Went 10-6. Lost in Divisional Round.

Jimmy Garoppolo - 12.9% - Went 6-10. Missed playoffs.

Tom Brady - 12.2% - Went 11-5. Made playoffs. Won Super Bowl.

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

2021 (3 missed playoffs. Two playoff losses)

Russell Wilson - 17.5% - Went 7-10. Missed playoffs.

Kirk Cousins - 16.6% - Went 8-9. Missed playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers - 14.9% - Went 13-4. Made playoffs. Lost in Divisional Round.

Matt Ryan - 14.6% - Went 7-10. Missed playoffs.

Ben Roethlisberger - 13.9% - Went 9-7-1. Made playoffs. Lost in Wild Card round.

Rather than offer lots of commentary about what I see here - and to me, there doesn’t appear to be any clear trend - I’ll leave it to readers to offer their thoughts and speculation about the ways in which quarterback cap hits may, or may not, be related to team performance. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Is there anything in this data that changes your thinking about the role of QB cap hits in affecting team success?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
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  • 52%
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  • 15%
    Please stop writing about salary cap data.
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