Grading on a Salary Cap Curve: Quarterbacks

Teams are built around the salary cap; so, too, are our player grades for the 2014 season. In Part 1, we look at Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers' quarterbacks. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY)

’Tis the season when every newspaper and blogger grades each player on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. We’re no different, though we’ll take a different spin on the subject by grading on a curve. Building a roster means building around the restraints of the salary cap, so our grades are based relative on their salary-cap worth on the roster.

So, without further adieu, Part 1 of our “Grading on a Salary Cap Curve” series starts with the quarterbacks. Salary cap figures are from a source with access to NFLPA salary data.

Aaron Rodgers

2014 cap number: $17,550,000

2014 recap: At any price, Rodgers is a good deal. The Packers went 12-4 for the season, including 11-2 after he told the fans to “relax” after the team’s slow start. He turned in memorable performances in a comeback win at Miami, a clutch victory over New England and by hobbling out of the locker room to beat Detroit in Week 17.

Rodgers finished second in passer rating (112.2), second in yards per attempts (8.43), second in touchdown percentage (7.3) and first in interception percentage (1.0). With 38 touchdowns against a franchise-record-low five interceptions, his ratio of 7.6-to-1 was double that of runner-up Tony Romo’s 3.8.

Rodgers finished third with 38 touchdown passes. Andrew Luck threw a league-high 40 but needed 96 more attempts. Peyton Manning was second with 39 but needed 77 more attempts. Rodgers also led the league in passer rating against the blitz (130.4) and on third down (121.7). His eight games of three-plus touchdown passes and no interceptions tied Tom Brady’s league record. With all of that statistical dominance, the Packers led the NFL in scoring and won the NFC North.

Playing for the first time in his career without a receiver corps overflowing with talent, Rodgers delivered arguably his best season. He was at his physical and mental best most weeks. However, in games against elite defenses – twice vs. Seattle, twice vs. Detroit, once vs. Buffalo – the Packers went 1-4 and Rodgers threw five touchdowns against five interceptions. The Packers needed him to be great against the Seahawks last week but he wasn’t, even with the offensive line providing superior pass protection. The injured left calf, obviously, had something to do with his performance in that game. The play on the perimeter against Seattle’s superb defense didn’t help, either. But for the Packers to win another championship, he’s going to have to raise his level of play in big-time games against big-time defenses.

Season grade: A.What else but an “A” for a player whose brilliant season might end with him earning his second NFL MVP Award next Saturday.

Matt Flynn

2014 cap number: $1,068,125

2014 recap: Flynn, based on his experience and success in 2013 more than anything done in the 2014 preseason, won the backup job coming out of training camp and held it throughout the season. He played in seven games – six at the end of blowouts and once when Rodgers went down in a heap in the regular-season finale against Detroit. Flynn, with his obvious physical limitations, completed 8-of-16 passes (50.0 percent) for 66 yards with one interception and a passer rating of merely 34.9. He averaged just 4.13 yards per attempt and was sacked twice. Getting thrown in for a series or two is tough duty for any quarterback. Flynn, who will turn 30 in June, is heading toward unrestricted free agency. If not Green Bay, it might be nowhere for the quarterback whose only professional success has come in Green Bay.

Season grade: D.

Scott Tolzien

2014 cap number: $645,000

2014 recap: Tolzien spent the season on the active roster but was beaten out by Flynn for the No. 2 job. He was inactive most weeks until Rodgers’ calf injury, and didn’t play a snap all season. He will be an unrestricted free agent. With his combination of arm strength, intelligence and work ethic, he has all the tools to be a quality long-term backup.

Season grade: Incomplete.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


Packer Report Top Stories