What’s the NFL’s equivalent of the Bobby Bonilla deal?

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Twitter has reminded me that, with the calendar now at July 1, the Mets once again will be paying 54-year-old Bobby Bonilla $1.19 million to not play for them. The annual annuity payment will continue through July 1, 2035, when Bonilla will be 72.

While plenty of other bad baseball deals have been done, the duration of Bonilla’s receipt of lump-sums that far exceed what the vast majority of Americans make in a year makes the Bonilla contract Exhibit A for a crappy contract. Which raises a question for your consideration: Which NFL transaction is best example of a bad deal?

It can be a contract, like the Albert Haynesworth agreement in Washington. It can be a trade for draft position, like the RGIII debacle. It can be a trade for a veteran player, like the Herschel Walker unarmed robbery. Come up with one and make the case for it below in the comments.

44 responses to “What’s the NFL’s equivalent of the Bobby Bonilla deal?

  1. The Twins signed Joe Mauer to an 8 year 184 million dollar contract. He had one good year after that (2009 MVP) after that his production plummeted, and he has been the most over paid player in baseball.

  2. Jr Griffey has a similar contract with the Reds. I believe he gets paid till 2025. Like the guy, hate the contract. Great agent.

  3. It’s gotta be Aaron Rodgers’ deal with my Packers. We are not only hamstrung by the deal, but Aaron is such a big baby and so unliked, the team is stuck doing what he wants, and not what the team needs, and the players and fans resent him.

    But, he’s all we’ve got, and he isn’t enough.

  4. There are so many to choose from that it’s not easy narrowing it down to one. Draft busts happen. The draft is too much of a crap shoot to go with a RGme, JaMarcus Russell or Rick Mirer type choice. In choosing from the many potential veteran ‘winners’ that come to mind it narrowing it down has to involve how to weight the various criteria. Is it cap dollars spent, assets given up or long term impact that should be given more importance? Ultimately I had to go with unrealized expectations as the most heavily weighted factor. For that reason alone the Haynesworth contract takes the cake for me with Nnamdi Asomugha’s not too far behind.

  5. History has actually proven that had Bonilla taken the cash up front and invested in US Treasuries, the annual payout would be greater than $1.19 mil.

    Mets actually made a good deal with the annuity because the present value is always greater than future value due to inflation.

    Econ 204…

  6. Right now RGIII looks the worst simply because the team staked its next decade on the move.

    The Vikings were desperate to win and had no running game. The picks were nothing to them because the rest of the team was on fire and had veterans on the team that were locked up and playing great. Walker wasn’t used right. He should have been wearing out defenses in the 4th quarter but the team had him doing things he’d never done as a pro.

    Agree with the Ricky Williams trade. That wasn’t as destructive as RGIII simply because a RB isn’t going to kill a team like a QB and they gave away one draft, not two.

    In the end, the ATL-SD for the Falcons to get Vick crushed the city, the team, multiple head coaches and then shocked the world. Can’t say that was a purely football “bad trade,” but teams don’t do background checks for no reason before the draft.

  7. Apples and Oranges because all Bonilla did was collect the rest of the guaranteed money that was owed to him, that the team chose to defer. If it were the NFL, they would have cut him and owed him $0 because it would have been a contract that only 1 party is expected to fulfill. Are there any NFL teams that cut a guy with guaranteed money left on his deal and they turned it into an annuity? I guess if the Jets went to Revis and offered to do the same thing with his remaining money it would be equivalent. Otherwise all the big NFL contracts are on paper only and never get fulfilled except for a few elite players. Otherwise it’s signing bonus and guaranteed salaries and then see ya.

  8. mikeheruki says:
    Jul 1, 2017 12:46 PM
    Ditka and Ricky Williams.
    The crazy thing is not only was the Ditka deal where he gave up his team’s entire draft for Ricky Williams terrible but then the deal Ricky’s agent, Master P, negotiated was one of the worse contract ever negotiated by an athlete who had a team by the gonads I’ve ever seen. This deal truly had it all.

  9. There are no NFL contracts comparable to the Bobby Bonilla deal because — like most of the rest of the working world, and unlike the idiots that run MLB and the NBA — the NFL does not give guaranteed contracts.
    Sure, plenty of players in all major sports are draft busts or are greatly overpaid for low or declining production. Always have been, always will be.
    You can call those “bad contracts” if you like. But in the NFL those guys are at least active members of the league. They have to show for practice, daily meetings, games, offseason workouts etc.
    After they’re cut or retire they no longer get paid unless/until they get a new (usually smaller) deal from some other team. They don’t get to continue cashing paychecks while playing for a team other than the one paying a huge part of their salary (as sometimes happens in the NBA), or worse, continue drawing significant money like Bonilla long after he retired, which is not at all uncommon in baseball.

  10. While the Bonilla deal sounds terrible when it comes to the Mets, the thing people are ignoring is the time value of money. Economists (i.e. smart money people) have a firm understanding of the expected value of money over time (assuming you don’t just stick it under your mattress and squat on it) and Bonilla’s deal has actually SAVED the Mets money overall over its life.

    What people forget is that this wasn’t the ORIGINAL contract. Bonilla already had a bad contract, and the Mets were butting up against a cash flow limitation. So the team converted short-term salary into a (very) long-term payout, structured in such a way that it would not be worth more in “real” dollars even though it would pay him a lot more actual dollars.

    It was a bad contract even at the time, but not outrageously so. But the notion that it is some all-time terrible deal is simply incorrect.

  11. What people are additionally forgetting is that the Mets thought they wee getting a great deal because they parked a ton of cash with Madoff to create an annuity to pay the contract with income and eventually recoup the principle, but of course Madoff made all that cash go poof!

  12. Bonilla’s annuity has a guaranteed annual interest rate return of 8%, far higher than the return he would have gotten had he simply taken the money upfront and invested in US Treasuries.

    In terms of time value of money, that far exceeds the rate of inflation. The restructuring of his contract took $5.9 million in 2000 and turned it into $29.8 in payouts through 2035.

    The Wilpons thought they would collect 12-15% interest from their investments from Madoff and only pay 8% to Bonilla. It was a terrible deal because they were relying on Ponzi scheme to guarantee an incredible rate of return (much higher than Treasury rates or inflation) for the remainder of Bonilla’s contract.

  13. gp265 says:
    Jul 1, 2017 12:46 PM
    The Twins signed Joe Mauer to an 8 year 184 million dollar contract. He had one good year after that (2009 MVP) after that his production plummeted, and he has been the most over paid player in baseball.
    Apparently you haven’t seen Pablo Sandoval’s contract with the Red Sox, and the guy’s barely played in three years, and looked like he belonged anywhere but a diamond when he did. 5 years, $95 mil, and he didn’t have anywhere near the pedigree Mauer did.

  14. The most recent disaster is the Jarred Goff trade. The Rams gave up a kings ransom for a bust and are saddled with his guaranteed contract for 3 more years.

  15. Those saying the Bonilla deal wasn’t that bad for the Mets are correct – it was actually good for both sides, cleaned up an immediate cash flow problem for the Mets and set Bonilla up for life…you’ll never see stories of him being broke the way other former pro athletes end up.

    On the NFL side, I see three deals that have no equal in their idiocy; two have been mentioned, Ditka-Williams and Vikings-Walker. The third is one that assured the Packers a horrible decade, John Hadl to the Packers. Similar to the Walker deal, it set up the Rams to be a dominant franchise for years.

  16. Everyone forgets about the infamous John Hadl trade during the 1974 season.

    To acquire 34-year-old John Hadl, Green Bay sent the Rams its first-, second-, and third-round picks in the 1975 NFL draft, and its first- and second-round picks in 1976. This was 10 days after Hadl completed 6 of 16 passes and was benched in a loss to Green Bay.

    The Packers finished that season 6-8. The next season, Hadl had 6 TD passes and 21 interceptions. The next year, he was out.

    That trade makes the Herschel Walker deal look pretty good.

  17. It’s tough to make a direct comparison because the Mets paying $1 million a year is like me paying a parking ticket.

    I guess maybe Brock Osweiler’s contract or Peyton Manning’s 5 year contract with the Colts where he spent only one season under it and that was when he was on IR before getting cut in the offseason is the closest I can think of.

  18. The New York Mets are also paying former pitcher Bret Saberhagen $250,000 a year through 2029 in deferred money in a similarly structured deal, but, yeah, not nearly as bad as $1.19 MIL for Bonilla annually !

  19. Matt Flynn has gotten a couple of ridiculous contracts – but at least he is self-aware enough to know it and poke fun of himself about it once in awhile, so you can’t hate the guy for it.

  20. Daniel & Ozzie Silna, owners of the St. Louis Spirits of the ABA, made a deal with the NBA when the leagues merged, that beats any other sports deal in history. They received a share of the tv revenue for about the next 40 yrs from the NBA, which netted them hundreds of millions of dollars for a team that didn’t exist any more. Finally around 2007 the NBA bought them out.

  21. Steve Young but it was more USFL more than the NFL . I think he still collects a check from that contract. That the only one on football that comes to mind that has been paid a player not to play for them.

  22. Depending on your point of view. Companies and the GOV pay retirement, this isn’t much different. It was a smart move by Bonilla who gets a hefty check annually. The team paid for his services and agreed to defer which lessened the financial bite at the time. Is it any worse than a lump sum?

  23. I’d say it’s the settlement the Wilfs had to pay to their former partners for defrauding them, but then again it’s really naïve Viking fans who are paying the bill. Baaaaaaaaaa…………

  24. how about cleveland buying a jackleg QB with less skill set than Tim Tebow for $16M, or any contract cleveland signed with any QB since 1999, or cleveland giving Paul Brown to Cincinnati and Belichik to New England for a box of cracker jacks?

  25. Allen Iverson has a deal like this with Reebok. He signed a lifetime deal for 800k per a year for his while life. Then it was converted to 32m but pays him when he is 55.

  26. There is no NFL equivalent, but the NHL’s N.Y. Islanders started paying Rick DiPietro 1.5 million a year in 2012 to not play for them. That 1.5 million a year payment continues through the year 2029.

  27. So the Mets owe him about $36M for the next 18 years. Why not buy him out now for a little less than that. He doesn’t have to wait until 72 to collect and the Mets would be done of that ridiculous contract. He can invest that money in a better fund that will yield him more than $36M by the time he’s is 72. Considering these players blow their money it might be better the Mets pay out over time, but I would want it all now to invest as I please. At least they’ve gotten smarter and have avoided similar deals.

  28. In 2000, after being traded from the Texas Rangers, Juan Gonzalez TURNED DOWN an 8 year, 140 million dollar contract from the Detroit Tigers. A deal that would’ve paid him 17.5 million a year.

    He played one year in Detroit then signed with Cleveland for 10 million. He went back to Texas for the following 2 years for 12 million each. He signed a 4.5 million deal in Kansas City in 2004 then was granted free agency after the season.

    In 2005, he tore his hamstring off the bone after his first at bat for Cleveland and was done for the season.

    He spent parts of the next couple of seasons in the minor leagues, and had a spring training stint with St. louis, but never returned to his all-star form.

    Clearly then, his rejection of what at the time was an insane contract offer will go down as one of the dumbest decisions by a player in sports history. Even if it was for the Tigers.

  29. The under the table deal Elway made with the cheating donkeys, circumventing the salary cap for years comes to mind.

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