FanPost

Rookie-Veteran Disconnect in the NFL?

Matt Ryan recently signed with the Atlanta Falcons, penning a deal that has heads spinning around the league.  Ryan will make $72 million over six-years and receive $34.75 million in guarantees.  Fellow rookie Jake Long, who signed with the Dolphins a month ago, looks to make $57.75 million over five years with $30 million in guarantees!

How do these signings of unproven rookie players stack up against the current vets today?

Quarterbacks

Player

Year

Contract

Guarantees

Michael Vick

2005

10 yr. $130 Mill

$37 Million

Ben Roethlisberger

2008

8 yr. $102 Mill

$36 Million

* Matt Ryan

2008

6 yr. $72 Mill

$34.75 Million

Peyton Manning

2004

7 yr. $99.2 Mill

$34.5 Million

* JaMarcus Russell

2007

6 yr. $61 Mill

$32 Million

Tony Romo

2007

6 yr. $67.4 Mill

$30 Million

Tom Brady

2005

6 yr. $60 Mill

$26.5 Million

* Vince Young

2006

6 yr. $58 Mill

$25.74 Million

* Matt Leinart

2006

6 yr. $50.8 Mill

$14 Million

* Jay Cutler

2006

6 yr. $47.86 Mill

$11 Million

* - Rookie Contracts

 

Offensive Linemen

Player

Year

Contract

Guarantees

* Jake Long

2008

5 yr. $57.75 Mill

$30 Million

* Joe Thomas

2007

5 yr. $42.5 Mill

$23 Million

Alan Faneca

2008

5 yr. $40 Mill

$21 Million

Walter Jones

2005

7 yr. $52.5 Mill

$15 Million

* - Rookie Contracts

In case you were wondering, former second overall pick and apparent "bust" Robert Gallery signed a seven year deal worth $60 million, plus $18.5 million in guarantees when he first became an NFL player.  A mistake?  I would think so.  

Also, for your information, LaDainian Tomlinson finalized an eight year, $60 million contract with $21 million in guarantees back in 2004.  Last year, Adrian Peterson signed a six-year, $40 million contract including $17 million in guaranteed money.  LT deservedly makes much more than AD, and the fact that Peterson was chosen seventh in the '07 draft probably made a difference there as well.  No one would've complained at the end of this season if Peterson had been given a bit more.  Some rookies show they're worth the money, but a lot of high picks do not.

Why not add incentives for rookies instead of paying them all the cash up front?  The Vikings played that card well with Peterson.  Peterson's contract incentives included $250,000 for receiving NFL MVP or ROY (in the case of last season) honors, a $1 million annual increase for 20 rushing TDs, and the ability to add $2.5 million to his 2010 salary by eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing in two of his first three years in the league.  Here's an idea: instead of paying the big bucks to players and watching them bust before your eyes, whey not give them a reason to play better and earn their salaries?

Veterans, especially those of the pro bowl caliber, do not like to be overshadowed by rookies.  "The scary thought is," said NFL Network analyst Rod Woodson, "[players] make more money playing better in college than [they] do in the National Football League."  Current Players Association president Kevin Mawae called the lofty rookie contracts of Ryan and Long "disheartening" in a Wednesday interview on ESPN Radio.  Mawae, a six-time pro bowler and fourteen year vet in his own right, also shared his thoughts with  NFL Network's Rich Eisen:

"The initial thought is wow..."

Mawae sees both sides of the issue, but has a right to complain and expressed his concerns on the matter.

"As a player I say more power to [Ryan]...you want to see more guys around the league make as much as they possibly can...the other side of it is what's [Ryan] done to show that he's earned it or deserves it?"

Does a rookie deserve such a large sum of money when proven vets who have busted their butts to become successful in the league are left with less?  Regardless of whether or not a rookie is supposed to save a team from mediocrity, why not force that rookie to prove his worth before paying him franchise savior type money?  Mawae has made the pro bowl a few times and doesn't see the fairness in paying big time salaries to rookies with no professional track record.  It takes some of the money out of the hands of deserving, hard-working vets.

"Here I am happy to sign a veteran minimum salary contract when I've proven myself and played and things like that...if you're a proven veteran I think you deserve more money and you should get paid that way; if you're a rookie, prove yourself..."

Why not force rookies to prove themselves?  This rookie cap could become an issue in the future and is certainly an issue right now.  Just as the draft is often hit or miss (e.g. the Ryan Leaf bust), paying untold sums of money to unknown quantities after the draft is no sure thing.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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