NFL: It's A Good Year To Be Bad, Maybe? NFL Rookie Salary Structure.

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2008

Original Article

There are some bad teams in the National Football League this year, some real bad teams. The Detroit Lions are pulling an O-fer and the Bengals just dont seem to give a damn.

Of course in the NFL, futility is rewarded with a high draft pick.  There’s no lottery like the NBA or NHL—If you’re the worst team, you get the best pick.

Watching Matt Ryan dominate defenses may lead you to believe this is a good thing, until you watch JaMarcus Russell throw yet another pick. When he came into the league wasn’t he supposed to be able to throw the ball through people? from his knees? with his arms tied behind his back? while curing AIDS?

Good Ol’ Roger Goodell is taking a good hard look at rookie salaries, and he wants to do something about it. With Jake Long getting 30 Million Dollars in guaranteed money without playing a single NFL snap; it appears as though Mr. Roger is right in calling the rookie contracts ridiculous

Everyone knows Mr. Roger wants the rookie pay scale altered and with Gene “high rookie contracts result in high veteran contracts” Upshaw in a better place, God rest his soul, it appears as though this just might happen.

Which results in an interesting, very interesting, set of circumstances.

First off, the draft this year is interesting in that there are not very many "proven" play makers. There’s no game-changer that’ll turn a team around with the snap of a finger. Detroit fans, what I’m trying to say, and I’ll type slowly s-o  t-h-a-t  y-o-u  c-a-n  f-o-l-l-o-w, is the future isn’t looking all that bright. I have no problem insulting Detroit fans, as they’ve undoubtedly lost their auto-industry job and can no longer afford internet.  Adding to this is the dearth of Senior talent at the collegiate level.

However, it appears that many draft eligible sophmores, and juniors will come out this year to avoid the possible adjustment of rookie contracts. (and here)

This is good, right? Essentially twice the talent: a choice between Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford?

Well, No.

The current rookie contracts are ridiculous and drafting early this year will undoubtedly doom at least one team to JaMarcus Russell Hell. All of the Juniors coming out will result in massive hold outs, and even MORE MASSIVE-ERR contracts. Why would a team subject itself to this?

Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and deserves to be paid the most. They also have the highest rates of NFL busts. So, do you commit 30 million dollars in guaranteed money to someone that could be a career bench warmer? Remember Lions fans: If you cut a player, his signing bonus for the remainder of his contract is applied to your cap number the following year.

So, you draft a Tackle to protect your prized possession. Well, Jake Long wants as much money as last year’s number one pick got—plus interest. Now we’ve got a problem, because the Number 1 pick last year was a QB, who argued for more money because he played the most important position on the field.  As you can see, there’s no way to win unless you get lucky and find yourself a superstar.

Even then, it’s cheaper to sign a proven veteran free agent.

So, what should the Lions and Bungals do?

  1. Try to trade your early first round picks for as many mid-to-late first/ early-second round picks as possible. There is going to be more mid-level talent out there with the amount of underclassmen that declare. While Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford may make your girlie spots sopping wet—resist the temptation.
  2. Unfortunately for you, the other GMs are smarter than you—that’s why you’re picking first and second. So wait until draft day and try and trade your picks this year for next year. This is a huge gamble because if the CBA doesn’t get redone, you’re left with a bad team, and a great draft choice in a class thats been raped and pillaged of all of its experienced talent. You are pretty much right back where you are right now, but you’ve just put up another awful season.

Its worth the gamble though, either way. There’s going  to be a point in time where another GM thinks so highly of a player that they’re willing to risk trading up, AND trading next year’s picks.

Lions fans are used to ineptitude, and another season isn’t going to crush their souls. Take the risk, and trade that No. 1 pick. It’s not like your fanbase is going anywhere; because the only thing uglier than a Lions game—is a Lions fan’s wife.