Putting Derek Anderson Into Perspective


Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh Steelers Sign QB Roethlisberger To NFL’s 7th $100 million Contract

If you’ve been reading my posts here for a while, you will know exactly how I have felt about the Derek Anderson contract. To put it bluntly, I was not a fan of it. I still am not overly fond of the idea, but yesterday’s news that the Pittsburgh Steelers had signed QB Ben Roethlisberger to an 8 year $102 million contract, with $36 million in guaranteed money, really put things into perspective.

Big Ben is just the 7th player in NFL history to be given a $100 million contract. The others are Carson Palmer, Mike Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, Drew Bledsoe, and Brett Favre. For sure Cincinnati is still happy with their deal with Palmer, and the Favre contract has worked out ok for the Packers. Donovan McNabb has been an icon in Philly, but his time there appears to possible be winding down and injuries have derailed him as of late. The others…Bledsoe, Culpepper, and Vick…..turned out to be huge mistakes for varying reasons. Will the Steelers come to regret this contract as well?

Matt Mosley of ESPN’s Hashmarks wrote that Big Ben had earned this contract, saying,

“Roethlisberger had a nightmarish 2006 that began with his motorcycle accident. He bounced back and had a superb 2007 season, performing like a top-five quarterback in the league. He’s now the richest man in the history of the franchise.

In talking to members of the organization this season, the most impressive thing about Roethlisberger’s performance was that he was playing behind a suspect offensive line. His ability to improvise and make smart decisions under constant pressure erased any doubt the club may have had about his future.

Teams can’t afford to let their franchise quarterbacks get anywhere close to free agency, and with two years left on Roethlisberger’s original contract, the Steelers did the right thing. Look around the league right now. You don’t see teams making playoff runs with a mediocre quarterback at the helm.”

ESPN’s Mike Sando had this to say about the young QB,

“Roethlisberger, 25, appears destined to rank among the league leaders in yards per pass attempt (7.8 yards), arguably the most telling statistic for quarterbacks. His completion percentage is above 66.4 percent this season, also a high figure.

“We played him early in his career and I wasn’t impressed at all,” the secondary coach said. “I just thought he had a good supporting cast. I like him better after watching him this season. He’s a tough quarterback to defend because he makes plays out of the pocket. He’s getting better.”

Uncommon size and strength allow Roethlisberger to stand tall in the pocket, but sometimes he holds the ball too long, leading to unnecessary sacks. Opponents have sacked Roethlisberger more than 80 times in the last two seasons. Finding the right balance could allow Roethlisberger to take another step toward elite status.”

What makes this fairly complicated is that it’s extremely hard to figure out where Big Ben ranks amongst NFL quarterbacks. Is he an elite QB? Is he in the 2nd tier? Is he just the product of a good team and a system that rewards Ben for making safe decisions? Is that a bad thing? There’s no easy answer to any of those questions, but a more important, and relevant to us in Cleveland, question is how does Roethlisberger compare to Derek Anderson?

In their 2007 Scouting Reports, Scouts, Inc only ranked Big Ben as the 6th best player on his own team. They listed him as the #7 QB in the NFL behind Manning, Brady, Palmer, Brees, McNabb, and Hasselbeck. After the season Ben just had, it’s easy to see that list looking quite different this year.

In terms of QB rating, Roethlisberger has always fared well. In his 4 years in the NFL, Roethlisberger has finished 5th, 3rd, 21st, and 2nd in the league in QB rating. Last season he finished 2nd with a 104.1 rating. Derek Anderson, on the other hand finished 17th with an 82.5 rating. When taking other popular NFL metrics into consideration, however, the comparison gets a little more cloudy. Football Outsiders use a metric called DPAR (Defense-Adjusted Points Above Replacement). According to their DPAR rankings, Big Ben finished last season ranked 9th in the NFL, compared to DA who ended up 11th. When looking at the Wages of Wins popular metric, QB Score Per Play, Big Ben ended up actually ranked just above average at #13 in the NFL. Again, comparing this to DA, Anderson finished the year ranked 10th in QB Score per Play.

When using adjusted metrics rather than the NFL’s rather bloated and confusing QB Rating, the two QBs actually end up comparing in quite a similar way. I don’t think anyone’s going to argue that as of right now DA is a better QB than Roethliseberger, but in terms of adjusted comparative metrics they are at least similar. Which is precisely what makes Roethlisberger’s contract so frightening. It’s easy to see now why DA was looking for more money. DA ended up getting a 3 year deal worth $24 million with $13 million of it guaranteed. That guaranteed number is staggering compared to Big Ben’s $36 million in guaranteed money. I still am not a big fan of the 3 year deal for DA, but I can say that at least the Browns aren’t locked into an 8 year deal with him anywhere near that $36 million number. It makes Phil Savage’s decision a lot easier to stomach. It will be fascinating to see three years from now which team is happier with the contracts they gave their QBs.


  • http://www.elevenwarriors.com Mark

    I think the Steelers were smart siging Big Ben to this deal. Quality QBs are a commodity in the NFL & Ben’d QB rating is proof that he’s a good QB. Obviously, the 2006 season was a fluke due to his accident & pendisitis (sp?). I also think Ben’s numbers can only get better. Ward is still going strong. Miller is a good TE. And I think Holmes will only get better (an he already made huge strides last year).