Thursday, May 22, 2008

Matt Ryan and Ridiculous Rookie Contracts

Matt Ryan just signed a deal to guarantee him $34.75 million. Great for him and his family. That is terrible for just about anyone else. He has yet to step on an NFL field or take a snap yet he gets more guaranteed money than Manning or Brady? How does a sport get so screwed up that rookies make more than proven stars? The NFL does a lot of things right, which is why they are the most popular sport. However, if recent trends continue that might start to fall.
Who gave these agents all the power? I realize some of this is safety net in case that player gets hurt. NFL teams should not be complaining because they make enough money as it is. BS. What is the worst case scenario, here? A rookie gets $5 million guaranteed, gets hurt, and never plays after two or three years. OK, guess what you still should be a 25 year old with a college degree and starting out with a couple million. How many college kids would complain about that setup?
When will a team step up and say, here is what your player is worth. Let him prove himself over the next three years and then we will pay him. If not, he can go fly a kite. Surely, that would tick off 95% of that teams' fan base for the next year as such player would likely just sit out and enter the draft the following year. The positive would be the precedent it would set. A GM needs to step up or else the player's union needs to get this corrected.
This is one area where the NBA has a huge leg up on the NFL. NBA players sign a three or four year deal, prove their talent on the court, and then get rewarded with huge contracts. NBA players do make a lot more on endorsements but even Lebron only had a couple million a year on his initial contract.
There are numerous problems but my biggest are the following, not in any particular order; 1) Veterans get ticked and hold out to get what they feel they deserve (See Chad Johnson, Urlacher, Jason Taylor, on and on). 2) Young men get a huge payday and do not know what to do with this, so they begin a Hollywood lifestyle (Leinart). 3) Players get de-motivated since they already have a huge payday and what is next? Passion for the game falls to the wayside and talent is wasted. 4) Player gets overwhelmed to live up to that contract and in turn alienates themselves from their teammates and much needed support 5) Teams get strapped to bad contracts when the young player fails expectations and the franchise cannot compete. They feel pressure for that player to perform because they have already invested so much into them.
The NFL has a lot going for it, so I hope the problem will get fixed. I would hate to see this continue escalating and causing further problems. Goodell faces some decisions early in his tenure. He certainly has spent a great deal of time and energy on the bad personalities. He should begin to focus on what some of those players are rewarded for, too.

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