This year in the NFL, one would be hard pressed to find similarities between the elite teams and the cellar dwellers. This past weekend emphasized that difference, with blowouts galore and the victorious teams outscoring their defeated brethren, 433-169. Wasn't the NFL supposed to have parity?
The salary cap is hailed as the reason why any given Sunday the worst team in the NFL can beat the best team. A way to limit any one team from hording talent, the way the Yankees do in baseball and it has been very successful up to this point.
There is one very ominous omission from this system that tries to guarantee competition. Ownership and the front office. The NFL can ensure that your beloved franchise has only a certain amount of money to spend on players contracts, but it can't tell the owners and GM's where to use their money.
The Raiders are a prime example of this problem. They over spend on players (e.g. DeAngelo Hall), Draft poorly (e.g. Mike Mitchell), and get little in return when they trade (e.g. Randy Moss for a fourth round pick).
As bad as Al Davis has run that team recently, because let's be honest he used to know what he was doing, he's not the only owner that is abysmal at running a franchise.
The Lions, Rams and Redskins all have questionable decision making at the ownership and front office level. Whereas teams like the Patriots, Colts and Giants have used their front office talent to consistently field competitive football teams.
Still, the management disparities between teams is not the only problem with the current system. A bad contract can doom a franchise. Past success does not guarantee that it will continue in the future.
For example, the Panthers signed Jake Delhomme to a five year, 42.5 million dollar extension in the off season. After years of playing well, his QB rating this year is a horrendous 56.5 and he leads the league with 13 passes intercepted. If his less than below average play continues, the Panthers are in for a very long five years.
Luckily there is a saving grace in all of this. Next year, will more than likely be an uncapped year for the NFL. A year for the bottom feeders to regain some of that competitive edge, lost within the confines of bad management and poor talent evaluation.
They can shed some of those bad contracts and start over. Maybe under the upcoming contract negotiations, between the owners and the NFLPA, the NFL should consider having uncapped salaries every few years. To keep parity alive and kicking.
In the end, there are many reasons why competition is laking, but there is no denying that the salary cap has magnified the influence front offices have on parity within the NFL.
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