Two different philosophies to build an NFL championship roster

Super 57 was not only a good game to watch, it was an interesting matchup showing two different philosophies to build a championship roster.

Those two philosophies are:

  • Build a roster around a highly paid QB (Traditional model)
  • Build a more complete roster with a decent QB on a rookie deal (New model)

The last decade or more, conventional thinking was that if you find a young starting QB that is good enough to be a success in the regular season and can get you to the playoffs, you hang onto that QB and pay them market value to build around. It has been a popular idea but the loss of additional cap space to the QB position puts a ton of pressure on the FO to be able to build an overall quality roster without much cap space to work with.

As hard as it is to find even decent QBs, most teams that found a good young QB were willing to make that commitment. To the joy of some fans and the frustration of others, the Cowboys FO made that commitment to Dak Prescott going into the 2021 season with a big contract at market value. Agree or disagree, it was a “traditional” model decision. It what JJ clearly prefers going back years. So far, it has certainly not worked out well for the Cowboys with both Tony Romo and Dak.

BUT…there are many teams these days choosing not to go the traditional route. They are spending cap space not on a QB but on other positions on both sides of the ball. They are aggressive in both trades and FA signings coupled with their drafts to build a roster that is not centered on the QB.

So which model is working? Answer: Both. SB champ Kansas City is certainly an example of a traditional model with Pat Mahomes as the big centerpiece. But the NFC champ eagles were an example of a team built around a rookie deal QB and a lot of help in multiple positions.

There are good and bad points to either model. Frankly, unless you have a Mahomes or Brady, committing huge amounts of cap space to the QB makes it harder to build a total roster. On the other hand, the rookie deal QB model only works if you have a young QB that’s good enough to win some playoff games with a lot of help.

I’m starting lean toward favoring the new philosophy because it does not tie your cap space down for a long time like these big contracts teams typically give to QBs on a second deal. I don’t think Jerry would ever go for the new way of thinking anyway because it would mean you’re drafting QBs every other year and rebuilding the roster often too. It does seem like the wave of the future though.


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