Every so often we are faced with a decision that heavily influences future events. Often times, the best choice is sacrificing some individual gain for the greater good. I am talking about the decision to miss the Thursday Night Game to put in those extra hours of work to finish a project, or the decision not to buy the entire bar drinks to pay off your credit card bill on time, or the decision to skip the movies with your friends to volunteer at a homeless shelter. The same theme holds true for the success of an NFL team and, specifically, the starting quarterback. Currently, the six highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL are not on teams that lead their respective divisions. In fact, five out of the eight division-leading quarterbacks are under rookie contracts. As evidenced by the current standings, if teams want to win games they cannot overpay for their quarterback.
Let's take a further look into the successful division leaders after week 13. AFC East leader, New England Patriots (9-3), are led by 4-time Super Bowl MVP and 13-time Pro Bowler Tom Brady, who has also claimed 15 division titles and 5 Super Bowls under his command. Arguably the best quarterback of all-time, Brady ranks16th on the highest paid quarterback list, receiving an average of $20.5M/season. AFC North leader, Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1), is led by 2-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger. Ben ranks 12th on the list, receiving an average of $21.85M/season. NFC South leader, New Orleans Saints (10-2), is led by Super Bowl champion and all-time passing yard leader Drew Brees. Drew ranks 7th on this list, as he receives an average of $25M/season. The remaining 6 division leaders are headed by starting quarterbacks still under their rookie contract - AFC South leader Houston Texans (9-3) led by Deshaun Watson; AFC West leader Kansas City Chiefs (10-2) led by Patrick Mahomes; NFC East leader Dallas Cowboys (7-5) led by Dak Prescott; NFC North leader Chicago Bears (8-4) led by Mitch Trubisky; and, NFC West leader Los Angeles Rams (11-1) led by Jared Goff.