Money in the bank? Make that on the bench

Go ahead and follow the money. Just don't be disappointed when it leads you to the bench.

The starting quarterbacks in the Seattle-Arizona matchup Sunday will earn a combined $1.5 million in 2012 salary and bonuses, a fraction of the $23.5 million paid to their backups in bonuses alone over the past 13 months.

QBs by the Money

Anyone who thought the Cardinals or Seahawks would rig their quarterback competitions to favor the players with the highest price tags was mistaken. Coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Pete Carroll demonstrated their willingness to go against the perceptions money can create.

As the chart shows, starters John Skelton (Arizona) and Russell Wilson (Seattle) cannot match the financial balance sheets of their respective backups, Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn. But when the teams kick off Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, the money won't matter.

That will change after the season.

Kolb's deal calls for $9 million in salary for 2013. He'll have to be the starter, and a good one, for Arizona to keep him at that price. He's also due to receive a $2 million roster bonus during the offseason.

Flynn's salary jumps to $5.25 million next season. That money would count as a relative bargain if Flynn were starting. It's not prohibitive money for a backup, but it's more than twice what Wilson or Skelton would receive over the lives of their current rookie deals.