Something has been kinda eating away at me as I watch the Russel Wilson train derail for the past 11 weeks. For a while now it’s pretty apparent to sports fans and pundits that an athlete will play harder and fight through more nagging injuries in a contract year then other years. So what happens now that guaranteed contracts are becoming the norm? So I looked it up.
The top 10 guaranteed contracts are all held by QB’s and 12 of the top 15 are held by QB’s. So how are they doing since signing the guaranteed contract?
Watson isn’t playing, Murray can’t lead the Cardinals to wins, Wilson is the 30th ranked QB in the league, Rodgers can’t lead Green Bay above mediocrity, Allen and Mahomes are studs, Stafford, Prescott and Goff are all meh or hurt and Wentz is on the bench.
That’s your top 10. Two awesome players and 8 that have "destructed" their teams because of the cap hit or bad play or whatever. That’s a 20% success rate.
So how about the next 5? Bosa is hurt, Ryan is benched, Garett is solid, Donald is good but he’s certainly not carrying his team to victories and Tannehill is meh. No real "wins" here for teams looking these guys up.
The point is that players are humans and humans become complacent when they’ve "made it" and guaranteeing a person an amount that can be termed generational wealth before they’ve earned it is clearly backfiring.
Not every player is Michael Jordon or Tom Brady. Those two are types of players that have an internal motivation that transcends the money.
Contract negotiations and their success or failures were all fine and dandy and kinda part of doing business until now. Now we talk of QB in the "Quarter BILLION" range and those ranges take up a huge amount of cap space. When that happens team building becomes difficult and unless the person taking up the disproportional amount of cap space performs at an elite level it destroys the team. These players are not performing at an elite level or anywhere close to it 80% of the time.
These contracts aren’t’ t financially detrimental to the team in so much as they’re detrimental to the product on the field when they go wrong because of the way the cap is structured. And they’re going wrong at a staggering 80% fail rate. Look at Ezekiel Elliot’s cap hit in 2022. He accounts for 18% of the cowboys salary cap and there’s no metric that says he has produced close to that, for years, for that cap hit. Same with Wilson. The Broncos are locked to Wilson for years and the product is awful.
The solution for this is simple: A guaranteed contract should be financially guaranteed by the club but if the player is cut then he doesn’t count for dead money on the cap. he gets paid, the team takes it on the chin, but the Team gets to move out from under the yoke and build a competitive team for the fans.
If the Browns want to guarantee Watson $250M and Denver wants to guarantee Wilson $250M before they play a snap, then fine, that’s a business decision and it’s team. However, the current structure penalizes fans more then teams because the value of the team isn’t going down with the decline of the product on the field.
This is an inept structure that negates fan loyalty and it needs to be addressed, otherwise, the quality of the NFL product is simply going to degrade and degrade badly.