When the 2011 NFL draft rolls around, most believe that it is a foregone conclusion that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the top pick.
One former NFL scout went as far as to call Luck the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning.
But, with the Eagles dangling Kevin Kolb, is Luck still the best quarterback available? With a new collective bargaining agreement looming, this debate is more than just talent. It is also about cost.
Barring a radical change to the way NFL teams pay the top draft picks, Luck will almost certainly earn more than the six-year, $78 million ($50M guaranteed) contract that Sam Bradford signed last year as the top pick by the St. Louis Rams.
On the other hand, Kevin Kolb has a base salary of just $1.4 million in 2011. He would be a restricted free agent following the 2011 season. And with Kolb set to make so little in 2011, there is some speculation that the Eagles would demand two first-round draft picks in exchange for the fourth-year quarterback.
So if we assume the talent-levels of Luck and Kolb are comparable, what is the better move: Locking yourself into $50 million guaranteed or spending two first-round draft picks, plus a $1.4 million salary to land Kolb?
Well, one study concluded that a first-round draft pick is worth $33.7 million on the open market. (In other words, that this price a team should “charge” another team to acquire their pick.) So, even if we consider that one of those picks would be in future dollars, two picks are still worth more than the $50-55 million guaranteed that Luck will demand. On top of that, Luck will be under team control for six seasons before becoming an unrestricted free agent, while Kolb is just two seasons from free agency.
At $1.4 million, Kolb has an attractive price tag for 2011. But in the long-run, Luck is the better value.
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