Super Bowl XLVIII is a collision course of two different team-building philosophies.
In 2012, the Broncos paid 36-year-old Peyton Manning, the owner of four neck surgeries, a five-year $96 million contract to take them back to the promised land. Many saw it as a surprise because nobody knew how Manning would respond to contact and if his arm strength would return.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, decided to spread out most of its resources. Sidney Rice ($8.5M), Russell Okung ($7.06M) and Marshawn Lynch ($7M) are the three highest-paid players on the team. But that doesn’t mean Seattle doesn’t spend money. The Seahawks were the second-highest payroll in the NFL this year with over $103M in salaries.
But the difference is at the quarterback position. Russell Wilson is the 44th-highest paid player on the Seahawks, making just $526,217 this year. Obviously that number is going to skyrocket when he’s a free agent in 2016, but until then Seattle is going to ride the wave of an efficient and cheap quarterback while they fill holes on the rest of their team.
Which is exactly how the 49ers have approached their quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick is the 26th-highest paid player on the roster with a salary of $740,844. San Francisco will have some difficult choices to make when he’s a free agent in 2015.
But it speaks to an interesting philosophy. The quarterback is and always be the most important player on a football team. However, if a team can strike oil in the draft with a rookie that doesn’t make a flurry of mistakes while adjusting quickly to the faster NFL game, it definitely behooves them to go with the unproven rookie.
The 49ers and Seahawks have been playing with house money ever since Wilson and Kaepernick became household names.
The Broncos meanwhile are going all-in for a potential Super Bowl streak with Manning. But in order to do so, they have left gaping holes in the secondary and on the offensive line but Manning has been able to overcome those.
After showing Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews the money last April, the Packers have to decide where their priorities lie. Jordy Nelson becomes a free agent in 2015, which will limit money spent on expiring contracts this spring.