The NFL's salary-cap system is confusing, to say the least. Guaranteed at signing, total guaranteed, cap hit, total salary, signing bonus; they're all different, important and convoluted.
Yet, one thing we all can wrap our heads around is cash. Cold hard cash makes sense and for the most expensive position in the NFL (QB), it's a big number. It's also proof/a reminder that some quarterbacks are woefully overpaid.
With the exception of Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, you could make a strong argument that none of the other quarterbacks on this list were Top 5 in the league last year. Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson are on top of the NFL's QB Mount Rushmore currently, but they're still on their rookie deals, which is why they're not on here. That will change soon enough, but for now, this list reads like a who's-who of most over compensated "stars" in the NFL.
Kirk Cousins just won his first playoff game before flaming out in the second round of the playoffs last season. Carson Wentz is known more for his injuries than his play. Ryan Tannehill cashed in on the best season in an otherwise forgettable NFL career. Jared Goff parlayed one good season into a ridiculous contract. Dak Prescott flashes star power, but seems to be more of a benefactor of Ezekiel Elliott's success than anything else. Jimmy Garoppolo proved he's expendable in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers are coming off arguably the worst seasons of their careers. Teddy Bridgewater is a question mark and Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a season-ending injury.
Lot of question marks there. Lot of money going toward them. But the reality of the NFL is you have to pay quarterbacks a lot of money and sometimes you don't get the return on investment expected.
Notably absent from this list is Aaron Rodgers, who signed a four-year, $134 million contract with the Packers, which included a $57.5 million signing bonus, and $98.7 million guaranteed, last August. In 2018, his total cash was $66.9M, but this year it's only $7.29 million. Just another example of how weird NFL contracts are.