Sunday, March 8, 2015

How many wins is a high priced QB worth?

     Does getting a high priced quarterback correlate to extra wins in the NFL?   Yes, it does, sort of, but perhaps not as much as you might think.   I made a graph of the salary of the highest paid qb on the team in 2014 and compared that to the team win totals.  The results show that the teams with pricey quarterbacks usually do a little better than the teams with bargain basement quarterbacks, but still there are losing teams with very high priced qbs, and winning teams with low priced quarterbacks.  

       The main conclusion is that it depends on the team. You can't just spend money on a quarterback and create a winning team.  As the Chicago Bears about that one.  Or the New York Giants or Atlanta Falcons, both of whom weighed in with only six wins last year.     

   On the other hand some teams with low priced quarterbacks still excel.  Seattle is one such team that succeeded with Russell Wilson at quarterback.  The Eagles won 10 games with Nick Foles as their highest paid qb (and actually backup Mark Sanchez played a lot after Foles was injured). The Browns had a very low priced quarterback in Johnny Manziel (yes he was actually higher priced than Brian Hoyer), but the Browns were quasi-respectable with seven wins last year.   

       This year the Browns have moved up to the 27th highest paid quarterback in the person of Josh McCown, pending the probable addition of at least one other serious contender for starting quarterback position.  Many fans assume that that dooms the team to another season of mediocrity.  Maybe so, but there is more than one way to win a football game.  By not signing a high priced quarterback, there is more salary available, say for two Pro-Bowl calibre players at other positions.  Which is better to have?    A serious case can be made that it may not be worth spending eighteen million dollars for a single player, no matter how good he is.   

    Still the small data set for 2014 is consistent with the view that there is a payoff in having a top quarterback,and that he might be worth an extra win or two compared to a team with a below average quarterback.  

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