NFL Sets Dangerous Precedent with Sam Bradford's Contract

josh davisContributor IJuly 31, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Quarterback Sam Bradford (R) from the Oklahoma Sooners greets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Bradford was selected number 1 overall by the St. Louis Rams during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Well, the Rams have done it, and the NFL has allowed it.

Last night, Sam Bradford signed the richest contract in NFL history, becoming the League's first $50 million man.

Confirmed by earlier reports from a multitude of sources, this is indeed a contract that guarantees Bradford will make $50 million. That's $8.3 more that Matthew Stafford's contract as the same pick one year earlier.

What does this mean for the rest of the NFL, when all signs say that teams are not willing to sign such contracts with players that have proven ability?

The Chargers, tackle Marcus McNeill, and receiver Vincent Jackson are at it with each other. The best quarterbacks in the game are in talks as well with nothing for sure on the horizon.

Teams saying they are reluctant to sign these long-term contracts, and yet the Rams go and sign Bradford to a five-year, $86 million contract, and he's currently No. 2 on the depth chart.

As I have stated in an earlier article, this could go in a few different directions for St. Louis.

They could hit on a gold mine.

Or, they could have a guy who tries his hardest, but can't produce.

Or, they could have another JaMarcus Russell.

Hopefully he won't be rushed into a situation where he must start immediately, and does get a chance to learn from A.J. Feeley.

Feeley is a seasoned vet, and has great knowledge of the offense they run in St. Louis, since it is very similar to the one he learned in Philadelphia.

But how do you justify keeping $50 million on the bench when the playoff QBs of a season before aren't making half that?

If by week four they are below .500, I'd say we would see a change at QB, because I don't know if they can take it all the way to the bye-week.

But, if by week four they are not at .500, they could have other issues, as they don't start the season out with too tough a run.

After the bye, though, it may be time to put the rookie in, depending on their record.

The NFL has indicated they are going to try to end the way that unproven rookies are being paid, and with good reason.

The punter on Oklahoma's team last year had more snaps than Bradford.

Yet because he was drafted first overall, and with the QB premium (what a joke), he becomes the $50 million man.

And now, with this being in stone, reports are that Suh will likely hold out for what is expected to be a bigger contract, or at least not one that varies too much from Bradford's, as his agent is making the argument that he would have been the No. 1 overall pick.

Not sure how that can hold water, since he wasn't the No. 1 overall pick.

I might as well demand money from a team, because I would have been the number 235th pick in the 2001 draft, and gone to Jacksonville. Ya know. Had I played football.

Suh is kind of correct, in the sense that he would have been the No. 1 overall pick by the Rams. If he played quarterback.

Hopefully, this doesn't blow up in St. Louis' face and become a nasty piece of history for the club, because if it does, not only with it scar the Rams, but also the NFL for continuing to allow teams to pay their high draft picks solely based on potential. With nothing left in case they flop.

Obviously, guys like DeSean Jackson and Chris Johnson aren't the way things normally work out, where they are passed over by every team a couple of times, and then go on to out play their pay, but, that is exactly how the NFL should be doing things with rookies.

Just an idea—a four-year contract, very similar to the ones Jackson and Johnson signed their rookie season, with escalators that would put them in the range of what a player of their caliber and position should be making.

Because look, there's not a player in the game that makes $50 million. Period.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning signed a $99.2 million, seven-year contract that paid him a league-record $14.17 million annually back in 2004, and he had been in the league for six years.

We are just on real shaky ground when it comes to these rookie contracts, especially this year. New CBA needing to be drawn up, high profile players entering contract years, and a guy making $50 million and doesn't look to be the starter for week one.

All I can say is, hope it works out, because this could get ugly.

Update : This was just picked up from Vikings training camp, from Pat Williams, who apparently had a welcoming party for rookie running back Toby Gerhart. Gerhart was hit pretty good three times, despite only being in shorts and pads:


"I don't care who it is, man," Williams said. "This ain't college no more. They're grown mans out there. [Expletive.] Paying these college boys like they already played before, so [expletive], we just show 'em. This is a different breed out there. This is grown men. It ain't boys no more. But they pay 'em like they done played in the NFL now," Williams said, according to Tom Pelissero of ESPN1500.

(I added it because it goes along with the theme of this article, about kids that have never played a down in the NFL getting off-the-charts contracts.)

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