Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco Contract Comparison


Nov 10, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo (32) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Critics and pundits alike love to pile on Joe Flacco, especially when it comes to his contract.  In fact, his deal was recently named the worst quarterback contract in the NFL.  But is the criticism really justified?  We don’t think so, obviously.  The price of quarterbacks, even those who aren’t named Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, or Peyton Manning are steadily shooting up.  It’s a simple case of supply and demand, and right now demand is far outweighing supply.

Dalton isn’t a top tier quarterback, but he didn’t get top tier money either.  Like Flacco, we can nitpick it all we want but the Bengals don’t have a better option in house.

So when we found out about Andy Dalton’s new mega contract, it wasn’t so much of a shock.  What choice do the Bengals have?  Dalton isn’t a top tier quarterback, but he didn’t get top tier money either.  Like Flacco, we can nitpick it all we want but the Bengals don’t have a better option in house.  And there certainly isn’t one on the free agent market.

We were interested in the final details of Dalton’s contract, of course, and how it compares to Flacco’s.  They look similar on the surface but there are major differences in the verbiage and terms of payout.

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The biggest difference, obviously, is the guaranteed money.  Dalton’s contract is more of a year-to-year proposition, much like Colin Kaepernick’s recent deal.  It’s a smart move for a team that isn’t quite sure if their current guy is going to pan out as the quarterback of the future.  It’s also why people are so critical of Flacco’s contract.  But to be fair, this sort of pay-as-you-go contract is a new fad in the NFL that was unheard of in past years, at least for quarterbacks.

Dalton’s base salary is a paltry $986,027 this season.  Tied to it are $18 million in escalators that are performance based, including those that will be paid if Dalton plays 80 percent of the snaps, makes the playoffs, Super Bowl, etc.  His base salary in 2015 jumps to $10.5 million.  Even in the final year of the deal, his total salary is a reasonable $17.5 million (sure to be a bargain considering the way the market is trending).

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Flacco is set to make around $21 million this year via base salary and option bonus.  After next year’s $11 million payout, the Ravens are fully expected to restructure.  His salary cap numbers explode in 2016 ($18 million salary, $28.55 million cap figure), 2017 ($20.6 million salary, $31.15 million cap figure) and 2018 ($20 million base salary, $24.75 million salary-cap figure).

If the year-to-year kind of contract was en vogue when Flacco signed his deal, we might have seen him signing a deal similar to Dalton. But the guy had just won a Super Bowl and an MVP award after leading his team on an improbable journey through the playoffs.  He had all the leverage and no incentive to accept a team friendly deal.  The true test will come after the 2015 season, when we will find out how willing he is to accept a team friendly restructure.  Of course, that also depends on his performance in 2014 and 2015.  Another ring or two could mean an even bigger payday.