The St. Louis Rams have a decision make about Robert Quinn's future before May 3. That's the deadline for picking up the fifth year option, covering the 2015 season, in his rookie deal, as we discussed last week. We now have a better idea of what that option will cost the Rams. It's a very good deal for the team, and kind of a rip off for a player now entering the prime of his career.
Quinn's option, because he was the 14th pick in the 2011 draft, is based on the average of the third through 25th highest paid players at his position. (It's based on the 10 highest salaries for players picked in the top 10). According to Albert Breer, that option salary will be:
Proj option #'s for Picks 11-32: CB $6.55M, DE $6.62M, DT $5.20M, LB $6.68M, OL $7.08M, QB $9.20M, RB $4.95M, S $4.43M, TE $3.72M, WR $6.43M— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 24, 2014
That's a paltry salary, non-guaranteed salary except in the case of injury, for a DPOY candidate and a pass rusher who collected 19 sacks this season. It's a no-brainer that the Rams will pick up his option for 2015 at that price.
Quinn could also lose another year of free agency in 2016 if the Rams were to apply the franchise tag. That would cost around $12 million for a one-year salary.
His original rookie deal was a four-year, $9.4 million contract, with a fifth-year option. The Rams could get five seasons out of Quinn for a grand total of about $16 million ... roughly one year of what it costs to pay Sam Bradford, two players drafted one year apart. Of course, Bradford's since become the poster boy for the ills of the old rookie wage scale, which gave players six-year deals at $78 million, in his case, without ever playing a snap in the NFL.
Say the Rams do franchise Quinn in 2016, and you've got six years of a premier pass rusher for roughly $28 million. That's less than the guaranteed money in the five-year, $60 million contract extension Chris Long signed in 2012, with $36.76 million guaranteed.
You can see why players are upset about the rookie system put in place as part of the 2011 CBA, as Jason Cole noted Friday morning at the National Football Post.
It stinks for Quinn, who gives up some of his prime years of free agent eligibility. Of course, the Rams could sign him to an extension now, but that's not very practical from a cap standpoint when they've got the team's best player at a cut rate price. It's more likely that they'd sign him to a new deal before using the franchise tag; they locked up Long in the last year of his original six-year rookie deal.