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Which NFL starting quarterbacks offer the best value?

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Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders warms up during pre game prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field
Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders warms up during pre game prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field

Every sports outlet has been coming out with their rankings of late. It is deep in the NFL offseason and typically this is when these things happen. But what of the value based on contract?

I went through the starting quarterbacks in the NFL and tallied up their touchdowns to interception ratio over the past five years and compared it to their salary to find a value for each. Some of the results were expected while there were some interesting surprises.

To be specific, what I did was took each quarterback's average number of touchdowns over interceptions over as many as their past five complete or near complete seasons. I did not factor in any of the players' rookie seasons. Then I compared it to their average salary per season based on their current contracts. From there I was able to get a value which was how much money per touchdown over interception each player had.

I didn't include any 2011 rookie quarterbacks because rookie seasons are typically not indicative of a quarterback's career numbers. It is also too small of a sample to get a good indication of their value. Also, if there is a changeover coming at quarterback-- such as with the Seahawks, Titans, and Dolphins-- they were not included.

Here are the results from most valuable on down

The numbers to the right are: Salary (millions) -- TD over Int -- Cost per TD over Int (millions)

1. Aaron Rodgers ---- $10.8 ---- 24.5 ---- .44

2. Matt Stafford* ---- $12 ---- 25 ---- .48

3. Joe Flacco* ---- $6 ---- 11 ---- .56

4. Tom Brady ---- $15.6 ---- 26 ---- .6

5. Tony Romo ---- $11.2 ---- 17.5 ---- .64

6. Drew Brees ---- $14.4** ---- 19 ---- .76 (New contract averages $20 mil per season which give him a $1.05 million per touchdown over interception, placing him tenth overall.)

7. Josh Freeman* ---- $5.2 ---- 6.5 ---- .8

8. Carson Palmer ---- $10.8 ---- 11 ---- .98

9. Philip Rivers ---- $14 ---- 14 ---- 1

10. Matt Schaub ---- $8 ---- 8 ---- 1

11. Matt Cassel ---- $10.5 ---- 10 ---- 1.05

12. Matt Ryan* ---- $12 ---- 9 ---- 1.3

13. Alex Smith ---- $8 ---- 6 ---- 1.3

14. Peyton Manning ---- $19 ---- 14 ---- 1.35

15. Eli Manning ---- $15.2 ---- 9 ---- 1.69

16. Ben Roethlisberger ---- $17 ---- 10 ---- 1.7

----This is where the best values end.----

17. Jay Cutler ---- $10 ---- 5.5 ---- 1.82

18. Mark Sanchez ---- $11.6 ---- 6 ---- 1.9

19. Ryan Fitzpatrick ---- $9.8 ---- 4.5 ---- 2.18

20. Michael Vick ---- $16 ---- 7 ---- 2.2

21. Sam Bradford* ---- $13 ---- 3 ---- 4.3

22. Kevin Kolb ---- $12.6 ---- 2 ---- 6.3

*Still on rookie contract

** Franchise tag number

List observations

There are only eight players on this list whose current contract pays them under one million per touchdown over interception-Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Josh Freeman, and Carson Palmer.

Three of the top value quarterbacks are still on their rookie contracts. Many rookie contracts are a few years in and therefore have low figures. Others don't offer much in the way of longevity and sustained success. Like Matt Stafford who, outside of his rookie season, has just one season by which to judge him. If you remove those QB's still on their rookie deals, what you have is:

The top five value quarterbacks:

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Tom Brady
3. Tony Romo
4. Drew Brees
5. Carson Palmer

The ten teams whose quarterbacks are not represented either because of an uncertain QB situation and/or a 2011 or 2012 rookie starter are: Dolphins, Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Titans, Colts, Redskins, Vikings, Panthers, and Seahawks.

Peyton Manning's worth comes from more than just touchdowns versus interceptions. He has essentially been the offensive coordinator for the Colts for the past decade. He earns his $19 million per season that way. Likewise, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, who came in just after Peyton, have earned their money through playoff performances and Super Bowl wins.

Many people would see Michael Vick so low on the list and think it isn't a fair judgment of what he brings to the table. His mobility creates a lot of rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, this is true. However, his running also causes him to get injured and miss a lot of games. He has missed 11 games in the past three seasons and has only played in all 16 games once in his career. So in that regard, it evens out.

There is not a lot to go on for a guy like Kevin Kolb. He has never played a full season in the NFL. But part of the reason he didn't play for the Cardinals last season was because of how poorly he looked. And yet, they still have to saddle that huge contract. That's true lack of value.

Many people may think that other statistics should be considered when finding the return on investment of a quarterback. Things like wins and losses which translate to playoff appearances and Super Bowls. But those types of things are far too subjective. Having a great defense can mask a quarterback's deficiencies. Also not every great quarterback has the luxury of being on an overall great team or organization. I chose to keep it simple and eliminate as many variables as possible.

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