Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Post #201: Crying about money

That liveblog pushed us over the fabled 200 post mark. Since we're looking at numbers, I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about the NFL, again.

Pro Football Talk (love the information, hate the schtick), brings up an issue I've always hated hearing people talk about: Underpaid-Overpaid

The prevailing view in some league circles is that the Cowboys, Browns, Chargers, and Bills paid way too much money for Leonard Davis, Eric Steinbach, Kris Dielman, and Derrick Dockery, respectively. (Memo to Chargers fans: That fact that Dielman has been named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl doesn't mean that he has been named to the team.)

As we've previously noted, none of these guys have ever been named to a Pro Bowl. Yet each of them are swimming in over $15 million in guaranteed money.

So what happens when a true Pro Bowler on the offensive line hits the free-agent market? Will he get $25 million guaranteed? How about $30 million?

How about the idea that he'll get what the market bears? How about the fact that 15 million guaranteed won't even buy you Jason Marquis? Why do people really care about how much money a guy makes if he performs? The whole jealousy thing that occurs with certain athletes just baffles me sometimes.

At some point italicized captions became trendy here. This is Jason Marquis doing what he does best: Running a daycare center.

I don't even mind the main point of this article in particular: Athletes that are better than Leonard Davis want more money than him. That's as it should be. NFL contracts in general though, are really poorly thought out and a pain in the ass. Here is a manifesto about why this occurs:

1) They aren't fully guaranteed
Talk about a screwjob. This doesn't fly in any other major sport, and I would LOVE it if this went away in the NFL. I'd guess if you got rid of this, 90% of the stupid holdouts, contract restructures, and needless bitching would go away with it. This is what always perplexes me about people who choose the NFL over the MLB or NBA--why would you give up the opportunity to one day convince someone that you are worth 50 million for contracts that are worth less year-to-year and have to be negotiated again every other year?

2) The NFL Draft money is stupid insane
David Carr: 60 million. Carson Palmer: 49 million. Eli Manning: 54 million (20.5 million guaranteed). Alex Smith: 50 million (24.5 million guaranteed). Mario Williams: 54 million (26.5 million guaranteed).

Wanna know what LeBron James made his rookie year? 4 million. Total guaranteed package of about 15 million. Joe Borchard, the highest paid signing bonus in MLB history, was at 5.3 million.

What does this all mean? Well, MLB is kind of irrelevant to this part, but, in the NBA anyway: When you get the first pick in the draft, it is a good thing. Getting the first pick in the NFL draft is a bad thing. Look at that list of players picked #1 that I have up there. Would any of them get that much money on the free agent market today except Palmer? NFL players are much more fungible, and having to pay a premium on the perceived top rookies is retarded. I'll refer you to the Texans. Would they be better off with Julius Peppers instead of David Carr? Absolutely. But you know what would've been best? Ed Reed at the cheap-ass contract he got for 5 years. You know what Ed Reed did all the last few years before signing an extension? Complained about his contract.

But when you get the #1 overall pick, theres so much media intensity that teams are afraid to blow it. Very few teams trade the #1 overall pick. One that did, the Chargers, ended up getting franchise running back LaDanian Tomlinson AND quarterback Drew Brees, along with other picks, for non-franchise running back Michael Vick. Do you see how this works? Very few NFL teams seem to. Getting the #1 overall pick in 2006 was the worst thing that could've happened to the Texans. Not only were they locked into paying someone who could potentially not be very good a lot more money than he probably deserved, but the intense scrutiny has led to the team becoming the Houston Not Reggie Bush's.

And when you are the Steelers, or the Patriots, or the Colts, and you have a core of a successful team. AND you draft low in the first round every year. You are absolutely better off. Let me refer you to Troy Polomalu, Reggie Wayne, Vince Wilfork, among others. Not only are these guys as good if not better than people taken before them, but they are much cheaper.

If I were an NFL GM with a high pick, I would trade down nine times out of ten. It would have to be a LeBron James type situation for me to stay at the top of that draft board and fork over my money. (PS: MLB needs to come up with the NBA system too. I mean, if you're going to subtly manipulate prices under the charade of "setting recommended prices", you might as well just finish the job. Matt Bush should never be the #1 overall pick in a draft that includes Stephen Drew and Jared Weaver just because of money)

3) For the love of God, get rid of this signing bonus bullshit.

Maybe 3% of America understands the NFL salary cap system, and that includes NFL GM's. Nobody understands cap hits, nobody understands bonus allocation, and nobody understands why there are so few trades. See, the signing bonus is there because it's the only guaranteed money a player gets. But what the NFL decided to do is have it count against the cap along with the base salary, spread out over whatever number of years. Whenever a guy gets cut or traded, they lose the salary bonus against the cap. Not only does this suck the fun out of the sport, but it confuses every NFL fan (who, lets face it, are not the most enlightened group in the first place) who has ever wanted to get rid of the bad free agent signings on their team, and can't understand why they won't get rid of them.

Here's why: David Carr, Charles Rogers, and all their friends have huge signing bonuses. If the team cuts them, they still have to eat a portion of the contract on their cap anyway. But more importantly, they also take a hit on next years cap. It's so much money pissed away at that point that you might as well live with the player and see if he can become mediocre instead of shitty.

What would I do? Get rid of the whole fucking concept. Even if you stick in the non-guaranteed system, just don't have them have any involvement with the salary cap. Not only are things suddenly much fucking simpler, but trades can happen again. And if owners start giving 75% of a contract guaranteed to a player, well gee, maybe thats a sign that your whole stupid non-guaranteed system is a crock of shit?

There, thats 1000 words that won't ever matter because the NFL and MLB make a shit-ton of money and aren't interested in the common fans opinions on anything. Reformation will only come when it's forced, because altruism almost never has a place in business.

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