Big contracts shouldn’t be a surprise

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Media and fans will marvel at some of the contracts signed by NFL players in the coming days and weeks, and inevitably there will be complaints that the players aren’t “worth” the money they’ll be getting.

First, anyone is “worth” whatever someone else will pay them.

Second, with the salary cap spiking for four straight years, individual contracts should be spiking, too.

Last year, one of the common offseason refrains at PFT was that the market for franchise quarterbacks hadn’t increased at the same rate as the salary cap. With total growth in the salary cap of at least 37.6 percent since 2013, the top of the quarterback market should have increased by that much, too.

In 2013, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers held the top spot with $22 million per year. If the quarterback market had grown as much as the cap has grown, someone already would be making more than $30 million per year. Instead, no one is even at $25 million.

The same dynamic applies at other positions. Retired Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, whose big-money deal was signed in 2012, hadn’t had his contract eclipsed until today, when Steelers receiver Antonio Brown signed an extension.

Although the total dollars are (mostly) being spent, the top of the market hasn’t been growing. The correction could be coming this year. When it happens, don’t wag a finger and call the players undeserving. Instead, point that finger at the owners and say, “It’s about time.”

17 responses to “Big contracts shouldn’t be a surprise

  1. Agents wanting bigger payouts aside, do we think the QB talent pool has kept up with the cap? To me it looks like a Daytona 500 featuring 4 race cars and a bunch of Camrys.

  2. Its absurd that average guys are getting these massive pay days. It’s still not as bad as the NBA, the Lakers gave Mozgov and deng 136 million guaranteed. Let that sink in.

  3. People aren’t surprised that some contracts are going up, but they are surprised at who’s getting them. An immature playoff choker is now setting the bar for WRs.

  4. Yeah, Bigger percent of the cap for the very top players, you know what that means less for the rank & file.

  5. “Although the total dollars are (mostly) being spent, the top of the market hasn’t been growing. The correction could be coming this year.”

    Or maybe the QB position was being over compensated as a % of the cap and what he have seen the last couple of years is the correction.

  6. I just got my season ticket renewal notice, so I’m certainly not surprised at the big contracts.

    Sure wish my annual earnings would increase at anything remotely resembling the annual salary cap increase. At what point does the NFL it the wall? Can’t keep going up like this forever.

  7. Anyone is “worth” what they’re paid? Pah! My mother was worth far more than anything I could have paid, but I digress – in a football context you’re saying Brady is not worth as much as half the league’s QBs because his 2017 salary is just $14M? Then there’s cap-minimum spending, and there’s a player who under-performs… Look, basically, “worth” and “pay” are not one in the same concepts, so quit fooling around!

  8. “Someone” is paying for the increases in salary cap and the salaries paid to the players. Guess who that “someone” is….We, the fans who pay the ridiculous ticket prices to go to the games and also support the sponsors by watching on TV and earning the big TV revenue for the teams.

  9. Somehow there needs to be a way to eliminate these absurd big albatross free agent deals and bump up contracts for the good players in general. Fans are so happy when their teams find mid late round talent and pay them squat then complain when these guys have earned the right to that one chance in free agency.

    It’s hard for the good teams who have great people in talent evaluation and are monitoring their caps wisely to go out and bring in a free agent who ends up making 3-5 times more than a guy who is as good or better. It just makes for a difficult locker room. It’s like that college team who starts out ranked #24. You can’t stumble as much as the team ranked #4 pre-season. That’s the same as a 5th round draft pick trying to earn their day in free agency if they play like a 1st rd talent. Find a way to compensate these guys earlier and also so teams can retain their great draft decisions.

  10. This time of year is always amusing to me. As you point out, each year, good players break the bank and we all question the wisdom. And the reasons for it are clear for most: they are stars at the top of their game, usually. But, as a Patriot’s fan, I continue to be amused by all the teams who pay out these kinds of contracts rather than lose an amazing player who wants so much… then wonder why they aren’t as good next year as they were this year.

    Meanwhile, the Patriots fans will all lament the players they lose and forget about them by mid-season as new players step up and perform as well for half the price. And all those stars will go on to other teams where they don’t do as well, but get paid like they were better than when the played in New England.

    Keep it up, NFL.

  11. One of the reason why the contracts are getting bigger is the long-term, big money contracts are rarely fulfilled because they aren’t guaranteed.

    Both parties (player and team) typically hype it up to justify the large signing bonus and first year salary, while both are 99% sure that the team will reneg before Year 5 of that deal ever comes to pass. And if the player does play out of his mind, then he’ll hold out for an even better deal – especially when contractual values are increasing by 37% every four years.

    It’s an interesting side effect of the current CBA’s provision for non-guaranteed contracts. I believe that if all contracts were guaranteed, the numbers would suddenly become a lot more stable.

  12. Did PFT ever consider that the correction was already made and the market (teams) determined that they could not pay these top dollar mega deals to QB’s especially and other positions and still field a SB winning team?

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