It is no secret that you need a good quarterback to win in the NFL. It is also not a secret that you have to pay a good quarterback market value to keep him around. What we have learned over the past decade is that It becomes a lot harder to win once you pay that quarterback market value.

That’s the dilemma all NFL teams face. There is recent history that indicates your quarterback better not make more than 13% of the salary cap, unless he’s Patrick Mahomes, if you want to win a Super Bowl.

The reason I am spending time on this is that another NFL quarterback, Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions, who cashed in this week. Goff signed a $212 million deal over four years Monday, with $170 million guaranteed.

The resurgence of the Lions, with Goff, was a remarkable story last season. They came a few plays away from reaching the Super Bowl. Still, Goff helped the Lions to their most successful season since 1957.

Like I stated earlier, the issue is that Goff’s mega-deal will make it harder for the Lions to keep winning, if history is any guide.

Quarterbacks And Cash

Jared Goff

Fans of the Lions have to be hoping that Goff is not taking up too much of the team’s salary cap. It’s easy to figure out: When one player is taking up that much of the salary cap, it’s hard to build a championship team around him.

The specific details of Goff’s deal worth $53 million per year is going to be well over 13.1% no matter how it is structured, when it kicks. The salary cap this year was $255.4 million and $53 million would be 20.8% of that.

Mahomes changed the narrative a bit. The past two seasons, Mahomes’ cap hits were 17.2% and 16.5%. But Mahomes is a true outlier in many ways. Mahomes doesn’t represent a new era for all quarterbacks; he’s just an era unto himself.

It’s not like the Lions had much choice. Goff helped Detroit to the NFC championship game and the Lions should feel like they’re Super Bowl contenders for the next few years. They felt they had to pay him. But Goff’s deal will make it harder to win.

The caveat to Goff’s deal is that if the Lions do win a Super Bowl nobody will care what he made. And a Super Bowl is not out of the question. Detroit has a top five offensive line, an elite receiver in Amon-Ra St. Brown, two good running backs in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs and dynamic tight end Sam LaPorta coming off a huge rookie season. The pieces around Goff are talented.

The Lions are a team that will likely have to win now. Eventually, everyone will want to get their big pay raise. Detroit will not be able to pay everyone which means good players will be lost to free agency. There should be some extra urgency in Detroit this season.