On Wednesday, Andrew Luck signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Colts including $47 million fully guaranteed. If you consider only the five year extension, and don't include the 2016 season (during which he'll make $12 million plus a $6.4 million signing bonus), from 2017-2021 the deal averages out to $24,594,000. If you include the 2016 season, the average is $23.3 million per season. The deal makes Luck the highest paid player in the NFL, and it's not even close. Joe Flacco makes the next most on average, at $22.13 million per year.
In an interesting experiment, we looked to see which Bengals we could combine together to add up to Luck's multi-million dollar contract and for the sake of fairness, we'll use the average annual salary of $23.3 million opposed to the total contract value.
You could have Andy Dalton and his $16 million average salary, plus George Iloka and his $6 million average salary and then still add on Jeremy Hill and his $938,401 average annual salary all for less than the cost of Luck's $23.3 million. That's three Bengals starters, two on offense and one on defense all for the price of one Andrew Luck.
You could also take A.J. Green ($15 million), Giovani Bernard ($5.16 million), Tyler Eifert ($2.064 million) and Tyler Kroft ($750,319) and still be under Luck's annual salary.
And, for the sake of sticking to players on their second or further contract and not using guys playing on their less-expensive rookie deals, you could have Geno Atkins ($10.665 million), Carlos Dunlap ($7.874), Vincent Rey ($3.5 million) and still throw in Brandon Thompson ($840,000) and remain under the $23 million total.
Still, there's not much criticism regarding Luck's contract, even after his worst season in the NFL during which he only played seven games due to a number of injuries, which he tried to battle through before being placed on Injured Reserve and watching the rest of the season from his couch. It seems the Colts are disregarding 2015 and basing Luck's value and what he'll do in the next six years on how his first three years in the league played out.
In 55 NFL games, the 2012 NFL Draft first overall pick has a 58.1 completion percentage, 101 touchdowns, 55 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 85.0. Luck's interception percentage during his career is 2.3% and he's been sacked 115 times.
Comparatively, in 77 games, Dalton, whose salary averages $7.3 million less per year, has a 62.3 completion percentage, 124 touchdowns, 73 interceptions and an 88.4 quarterback rating. Dalton sports a 2.9% interception percentage and has been sacked 140 times. Dalton averages 1.8 sacks per game in his five year career while Luck averages 2.09 sacks per game in his four year NFL career.
Interestingly, their numbers aren't too far off. And, as Dalton did for the Bengals, the Colts made the playoffs in each of Luck's first three seasons. Though, unlike Dalton, Luck has led his team to numerous postseason victories, including one against the Bengals following the 2014 regular season.
As a rookie in 2012, the Colts lost to the Ravens on Wild Card weekend. Following the 2013 season, Luck got the Colts out of the Wild Card round by beating the Chiefs but then fell to the Patriots in the Divisional round. And, as we all remember, Luck and the Colts beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round following the 2014 season and then were victorious against the Broncos in the Divisional round before losing to the Patriots in the Conference Championship game. In 2015 with a carousel of quarterbacks, the Colts were unable to make it back to the playoffs without Luck.
So while Luck is a proven winner, is he worth the massive cap hit coming the Colts' way for each of the next six seasons to keep him on the roster? Would they be better off with a variety of impressive, yet, lower paid players in his place, while having an above-average quarterback, like Dalton on their roster?
Keeping in mind that the 2016 NFL salary cap is $155,270,000, would you rather have Dalton, Iloka and Hill or just Luck eating up a $23 million average annual salary?