NFL Nation Says: QB bang for the buck

Which quarterbacks are providing the best value to their teams based on their contracts? ESPN Illustration

The dichotomy of NFL quarterback compensation was on full display Sunday.

First, we saw two of the league's better quarterbacks battle at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck plays under a contract that averages $5.527 million per season, while the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson averages $749,000.

Later that afternoon, another pair of top quarterbacks squared off: The Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning ($19.2 million) and the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo ($18 million).

At the moment, at least, we can agree that the highest-paid player among the four -- Manning -- would be the preferred starter for all 32 NFL teams. As with any industry, however, the highest-paid employees are not always the most effective. So after five weeks of NFL games, ESPN's NFL Nation sought to determine which quarterbacks are providing the best value -- the proverbial bang for the buck.

This task proved to be a highly subjective analysis, but it did include a few objective facts for parameters. I considered the average per year (APY) compensation for each starter, provided by ESPN's Roster Management System, and compared it to his Total QBR as well as his team's win total.

We also took into account the natural advantage a team has with a young starter drafted in 2011 or later, on his first contract under the new collective bargaining agreement. Those contracts are lower by NFL rule and have helped spur a spike in the second and third contracts of established starters. But in some cases, cheap contracts are not of much value if they come with sub-par performance.

What follows is one rendering of the football's best value at the position, based on those parameters. NFL Nation team reporters provided their take and I offered a comment to explain my ranking and any discrepancies that might have arisen.