Retired, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez was paid well during his NFL career. He believes that he should have been paid even better.
Gonzalez argues in a column posted at the CBS Sports website that NFL players should be compensated based on their production, not their position. He points out that, in sports like baseball and basketball, significant production should trigger significant pay, regardless of the position a player plays.
Gonzalez ultimately argues that the NFLPA should make pay for production not position a “top priority” in the next CBA negotiation. If that happens, the owners will welcome that discussion.
Per a league source, owners have wanted the system to shift for years. Currently, the market is set by position, with some average players at a position deemed to be critical (like quarterback) paid more than they would get in a pure meritocracy. And rookies get paid based strictly on when they were drafted.
Take Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, for example. Does he really deserve $22.5 million this year? Or did he benefit from a system that values quarterbacks and forces teams to pay the one they have because it may be too hard to find another as good as the average one they fear losing to another team?
The fairest system would provide a minimum salary for every player and would create a giant pot of money to be distributed by an independent panel that would consider statistics and film study and other stuff that the league and union would agree upon.
Whatever the system, the teams will find a way to work it to their advantage. They always do. And of all the potential systems, one that ensures only the best players will be paid the most money would be the best framework for the league — and possibly for the players.