Ten years later, No. 1 overall contract still falls short of pre-2011 CBA values

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The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement dramatically restricted the money made by the players taken at the top of the draft. A decade later, the contract given to the first overall pick still falls short of the value received by the last first overall pick of the pre-wage scale era.

On Monday, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (the first overall pick in 2021) inked a four-year, $36.8 million. The full amount is guaranteed for skill, injury, and salary cap at signing. Eleven years ago, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (the first overall pick in 2010) signed a six-year, $78 million contract, with a maximum value of $86 million. Of that amount, $50 million was fully guaranteed at signing.

Per year, that’s $9.2 million for Lawrence. For Bradford, it was $13 million.

The Jaguars hold a fifth-year option for Lawrence. That amount depends on what happens over the next three years. Assuming the number comes in at $25 million in 2025 (which also assumes he doesn’t sign a new contract by then), that’s $12.36 million per year over five years.

There’s no reason to think the Jaguars won’t want to keep Lawrence beyond 2024. However, the fact that it’s an option gives the Jaguars protection against the possibility that things don’t work out.

In the first year of the 2011 CBA, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signed a four-year, $22 million contract as the first overall pick. That’s an increase of 64 percent in just 10 years. But it’s still not quite where things were before 2011, even as the salary cap continues to grow and grow.

13 responses to “Ten years later, No. 1 overall contract still falls short of pre-2011 CBA values

  1. Would it be fair to see if that CBA worked as intended from the players perspective? Are the rank and file players getting more $ now than then? Who is getting the money NOT going to rookies? Experienced players, only the stars, the owners?

  2. Its even worse when you factor in inflation.

    Value of $50,000,000 from 2011 to 2021
    $50,000,000 in 2011 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $59,837,333.68 today, an increase of $9,837,333.68 over 10 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 1.81% per year between 2011 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 19.67%.

    This means that today’s prices are 1.20 times higher than average prices since 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 83.56% of what it could buy back then.

    The 2011 inflation rate was 3.16%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2020 to 2021) is now 4.99%1. If this number holds, $50,000,000 today will be equivalent in buying power to $52,496,353.27 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest inflation rates.

  3. What is left out of this is today’s second contracts far exceed the 2010/11 second contracts Not even close

  4. I don’t see a problem with that. In those 10 years, there’s been maybe 3 guys you could say would have been worth breaking the bank for. Andrew Luck, Myles Garrett and Cam Newton. The rest, Eric Fisher, Jadaveon Clowney, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Joe Burrow… I dunno. The jury is still out on Murray and Burrow, I guess, but the rest haven’t been terrible busts (outside of maybe Winston? Maybe?), but not worth record breaking contracts, either. I’d say it’s worked out kind of how expected.

  5. The Bradford contract is why the rookie cap became a thing, because it was outrageous at the time.. Also where is Bradford now? He stole money from that team

  6. “Who is getting the money NOT going to rookies? Experienced players, only the stars, the owners?”
    _____________

    That was the unintended consequence that the NFLPA totally misread. They THOUGHT the rank-and-file veterans would benefit. But what actually happened is the superstars got big raises and the teams proceeded to fill absolutely every spot they could with guys on their rookie deals. It really cannot be overstated how big a blunder the NFLPA made by reasoning that since incoming rookies weren’t union members YET it was fine to let them get trapped into those really cheap rookie contracts. Now, something like 50% of the players are done with their careers without ever having gotten anything other than the rookie contract.

  7. Considering that plenty of people in the richest country in the world work two jobs and still can’t keep their heads above water, I just can’t work up tears about this.

  8. It was a flawed system…..paying guys who have yet to make any impact on the pro game more than established players was foolish…..they fixed it.
    So what are you on about?

    Come to think about it, since then, am willing to bet that the high picks have been doing better due to less monetary pressure and less internal friction due to jealousy and resentment from the lesser compensated veteran teammates.

    Making fir a smoother transition.

  9. Wasn’t that the point of the CBA? I’m surprised to see those numbers as close as they are.

  10. That was the unintended consequence that the NFLPA totally misread. They THOUGHT the rank-and-file veterans would benefit. But what actually happened is the superstars got big raises and the teams proceeded to fill absolutely every spot they could with guys on their rookie deals. It really cannot be overstated how big a blunder the NFLPA made by reasoning that since incoming rookies weren’t union members YET it was fine to let them get trapped into those really cheap rookie contracts. Now, something like 50% of the players are done with their careers without ever having gotten anything other than the rookie contract.

    ——–

    Agreed. I thought they would have tried to fix this during the last CBA negotiations, but no body seemed to care at all. Nobody even brought it up. It was all, a little extra money for a 17 game season. That was the only thing they talked about changing. Absolutely crazy.

  11. Stop with the cliched attack on a player saying he ‘stole money’ by negotiating a good deal.

  12. I’m pretty sure Trevor Lawrence will pull in well over a half billion dollars from his NFL career. Nowadays, QB’s are routinely having 16 year career’s and longer. Besides, I wasn’t in favor of the new agreement. It was designed to help out incompetent General Managers, and I’m never in favor of rewarding poor management, whether it’s a football team or a restaurant. But also, Sam Bradford was a unique case. He was actually a very good QB who happened to go to a dumpster fire franchise, and never could stay healthy. When healthy, he was an elite QB. Had he played for a decent organization with a decent coach, he’d have earned every penny, and then some.

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