Out With the Old, In With the New

Be careful what you wish for.

Have you ever bargained for more money at your job? Felt like since you have been there a long enough time, gained enough experience that this merits an increase in salary? If not, I am sure you have at least felt that way at one time.

Such is also true with NFL players.

Before 2011, there were players that were getting deals straight out of college that, in some cases, dwarfed a proven veteran’s salary. For example, in 2010 the newly drafted Sam Bradford received more money in his first contract than any other quarterback…..IN HISTORY. Weird, huh. Seeing this feeling unfair, in 2011, there was a deal (collectively bargained) between players and owners where players drafted have a salary cap based on where one was selected. This salary, albeit big by our standards, would be far less than a veteran’s salary. Sounds reasonable, huh?

But…………be careful what you wish for.

Since this time, the modus operendi of virtually every NFL team is after a player proves to be good, they are signed to a second contract for good money. But after that contract (usually expires around 29 or so), even if they are in their prime, they get cut. Wait……what?

Yes. Cut. Why is that? Why would an NFL team, a franchise that makes literally billions of dollars a year, cut a quality player?

Answer: to save money.

The NFL has a hard salary cap. This means you cannot spend X amount of money on the entirety of your team. So to ‘generate cap space’, certain players get cut not because they are bad, but because their contract is too high. And why is it too high? Well, because they were too good.

After the veteran gets the axe, typically the team then drafts a player at that same spot. Granted, that new player will not be as good, but the difference may not be as great as you would think. That new player, not only younger, has a guaranteed lower cost through their first contract. Why? Well, read above….this was collectively bargained.

So there is no question that the veteran players are being ‘hoist with ye own petard’. Yes, they may get a more lucrative deal than a rookie, but now they are as disposable as tissue when they age past 30.

And for good measure, even if a veteran player WANTS to be paid less than the veteran’s minimum (say a gunner on special teams or a nickel back), they do not have that option, as per the CBA.

So this is obviously dripping with irony all around. There is no true answer other than loosening the ‘hard’ salary cap. But this may never happen because owner’s love it. Forcing down the cost of the labor force; I mean what multi-billionaire has ever been generous with their money towards the working class?

Anyway, the moral of the story is……….

Be careful what you wish for.