Did the Philadelphia Eagles exploit race in the NFL to secure their quarterback talent? After the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins, a certain sports economist questioned whether race played a role in their decision. In Stumbling on Wins, Dave illustrated that race matters in the NFL. NFL teams have repeatedly valued black quarterbacks less than white quarterbacks.
In an odd twist, it seems the Eagles exploited the same behavior they previously exhibited to stock talent at the quarterback position. A year after trading McNabb, the Eagles traded his white replacement, Kevin Kolb, to the Arizona Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick and then signed Vince Young to be Michael Vick’s backup.
What happened next was predictable.
The Cardinals signed Kolb to a new contract reportedly worth $63 million despite the fact he ranked 42nd out of 48 quarterbacks in Wins Produced per 100 plays (WP100), 34th in QB rating and only started seven games in his NFL career. The Eagles signed Young to a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $5.5 million despite the fact he ranked 14th in WP100, 5th in QB rating, started 47 games in his NFL career and made two pro bowl appearances. For the complete 2010 quarterback rankings by wins produced, see this post.
Vick ranked 5th in WP100 last season and missed four games. The Eagles appear to have two top quarterbacks for the 2011 season with Young as his backup. Before labeling the Eagles quarterbacks a dream team, however, one of the points illustrated in The Wages of Wins should be remembered: NFL quarterbacks tend to be inconsistent from one season to the next. Vick and Young may not repeat their high level of performance in 2011.
If Vick and Young do maintain a high level of performance in 2011, then the Eagles just may stumble onto some wins by exploiting the NFL’s views on black and white quarterbacks. How ironic would that be for the City of Brotherly Love?