Less than two months ago I wrote a column entitled, “The Rams shouldn’t rush to sign Nick Foles to a long-term deal.”
In that article I wrote:
“If the guaranteed money is low, then the risk is low and therefore signing Foles to a contract extension makes sense. But, are Foles and his agent willing to accept peanuts considering how much today’s quarterbacks are making? It’s doubtful, and if the base salary and guarantees come anywhere close to what Chiefs QB Alex Smith signed for in 2014, the risk outweighs the reward in my eyes.”
Apparently I was wrong. It wasn’t doubtful, but likely.
The word “peanuts” in this discussion is a relative term. Signing for $13.9 million in guaranteed money isn’t peanuts to most of us. But in the scope of what NFL quarterbacks are making these days, it’s a fitting description.
Foles signed a two-year, $24.5 million extension that comes with $13.9 million guaranteed. The guaranteed money is especially important, because that’s essentially the Rams’ walk-away price.
Russell Wilson just signed an extension that guarantees him $61.5 million, but he won a Super Bowl. Comparing what he signed for and what Foles received doesn’t equate.
So let’s look at what other quarterbacks have commanded:
Cam Newton received $60 million in guaranteed money with his new extension.
Matt Ryan received $59 million in guarantees in 2013.
Tony Romo? Fifty-five million guaranteed in 2013.
How about Jay Cutler? $54 million in guaranteed money in 2014.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we find E.J. Manuel and Johnny Manziel. These two quarterbacks aren’t guaranteed to start for their respective teams this season. Sportrac.com has Manuel making just shy of $9 million guaranteed for the Bills this year while Manziel will soak the Browns for just under $8 million.
Neither signal-caller has a Pro Bowl on their resume, yet the guaranteed money in their contracts is within earshot of Foles. (And Peyton Manning, if you can believe that.)
Of course, there’s an argument to be made against signing a quarterback to an extension when he hasn’t played a snap for you while making a major transition in an offense. I understand the argument because I made it less than two months ago in the column I referenced above.
But $13.9 million? That won’t prevent the Rams from walking away from Foles if he’s a disaster over these next three years. It also won’t prevent them from signing future free agents Janoris Jenkins, Michael Brockers, or Brian Quick if they choose to do so.
Is the deal with Foles a risk? Absolutely.
You’re still talking $13.9 million that could have gone to other players, and Foles has to produce on the field.
But, this deal works for both sides. Foles has plenty to prove, but he receives a little security and a chance to up his pay in two years if he can make the Pro Bowl. If he’s awful, then the Rams move on with only a scratch on their cap and Foles has $13.9 million in bank.
If Foles is great, this deal will be a bargain in three years. We’re talking a John Mozeliak-type signing where a player’s prime years come on the cheap compared to what others make around the league.
After Jeff Fisher told the gathered media at Lindenwood University last Friday that Foles had signed a multi-year extension, I tried to make sense of the deal as I was driving home.
Why would they sign Foles when they haven’t seen him take meaningful snaps outside of Chip Kelly’s offense? Why take the risk by committing to him over the next three years?
When the actual figures came out, I understood the Rams’ point of view. Had Foles signed a deal comparable to the one Alex Smith received in Kansas City last year ($76 million with $45 million guaranteed), this column would’ve taken on a different tone.
This isn’t a huge risk from a monetary standpoint. If Foles doesn’t work out, the Rams won’t be hamstrung when it comes to signing other players because their quarterback is absorbing most of the team’s cap space.
Half the league can’t say that. That’s why this deal makes sense.
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