When the initial news came out that the Bengals were signing Andy Dalton to a 6-year, $115 million deal, the consensus was Cincinnati vastly overpaid for him. However, when it was revealed that Dalton's deal essentially paid him just $96 million, and he had to win in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl to earn the full value of the deal, many praised the Bengals for the contract.
According to former sports agent and CBS Sports writer Joel Corry, Dalton's deal establishes a middle-ground for NFL teams and second-tier quarterbacks, which is what the majority of the league considers Dalton to be.
Dalton's contract establishes a second or middle salary tier for starting quarterbacks. This tier has been non-existent since the New York Jets terminated the three-year, $40.75 million contract extension Mark Sanchez signed in 2012 and Matt Schaub took a pay cut from the four-year, $62 million extension he received from the Houston Texans in the same year with his trade to the Oakland Raiders.
Prior to Dalton's extension, the recent quarterback market contains nine contracts signed since the start of the 2012 league year averaging between $17,666,667 and $22 million per year, with no other deals hitting the $10 million per year mark.
One of those so-called second-tier QBs is Alex smith. By all indications, the Kansas City Chiefs and Smith's agent are finding it difficult to find the middle-ground that Katie Blackburn and Dalton's agent found.
As for other ramifications the contract has, Corry believes Bengals wide receiver AJ Green's eventual deal has been affected by the amount of money Dalton received.
Dalton’s contract makes it difficult for Green to become the NFL’s highest-paid wide receiver because his deal has a base value of $16 million per year. Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald set the wide receiver market on long term-deals averaging slightly more than $16 million per year containing in excess of $45 million in guarantees.
Typically, the quarterback is at the top of a team’s salary hierarchy when he gets a lucrative contract. For example, Matthew Stafford is the highest paid player on the Detroit Lions (by average yearly salary) despite Johnson arguably being one of the five best players in the NFL.
Ultimately, Corry thinks this could delay a deal for Green until next year at the earliest.
Green’s best deal may come from being patient. Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, two of the NFL’s other top young wide receivers, are in contract years. They could help define the upper end of the wide receiver market if their new deals top Harvin’s.
Head coach Marvin Lewis has more power within the Bengals organization than ever before. He's pushing for a deal for Green to get done now in order to lock up the core of his team, including potential All-Pro linebacker Vontaze Burfict.