Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

NFL Is Paying For Potential Instead Of Production

Posted on July 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Before even taking an NFL snap, Sam Bradford has signed a contract that guarantees him $50 million.

If you weren’t previously convinced that something needs to be done regarding the exorbitant guaranteed money that is being handed out to NFL rookies then hopefully the $50 million in guaranteed money the St. Louis Rams agreed to pay Sam Bradford might persuade you.

In case you might have forgotten, this is the same Sam Bradford who lost in the BCS Championship Game with Oklahoma in January 2009 and then nine months later suffered a serious shoulder injury that eventually needed surgery.

This is also the same Sam Bradford who has yet to throw a pass in an NFL game.

Yet, he now has signed a contract that dwarfs the current deals of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, a pair of all-time greats who are getting nowhere in their attempts to sign new long-term contracts.

Will Sam Bradford Live Up To His New $50 million Contract?

  • No athlete is worth $50 million (48%, 54 Votes)
  • No (43%, 48 Votes)
  • Yes (9%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 112

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Now certainly you remember Brady and Manning. They are the two most dominant quarterbacks of the past decade who combined have four Super Bowl rings, six Super Bowl appearances and 15 Pro Bowl trips.

If given the choice, would you rather have Bradford quarterbacking your team or one of these two guys?

Yet both of these future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the prime of their careers aren’t getting a sniff of the kind of money that is being handed out to NFL rookies.

And Bradford is certainly not the first or only rookie who has become a multi-millionaire before ever stepping foot on an NFL field. Despite many questions as to whether he can make it in the NFL, Tim Tebow has signed a new contract that could eventually be worth $33 million.

Instead of making players prove their worth before paying them obscene amounts of money, the NFL has somehow ended up with a system where first round draft picks receive enough money to buy a small country.

In 2005, the San Francisco 49ers paid Alex Smith $24 million in guaranteed money as the first pick in the NFL Draft. Anyone feel Smith has lived up to that money?

Smith has started 40 games in the NFL and has a 16-24 record with 37 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. If you do the math, that comes out to $1.5 million per victory or $648,000 per touchdown pass. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

It is possible that Sam Bradford will become an NFL superstar. However, given that unless the New England Patriots come up with more money soon Brady will be a free agent at the end of the season, the Rams could have waited until next year and possibly signed Brady. Which quarterback would you rather have leading your team?

There is going to be a lot of negativity and propaganda spouted out by both sides during the next six months as the NFL owners and players figure out how to divvy up the billions of dollars in revenue generated by their sport.

It goes without saying that both sides are greedy and deserve no sympathy from working class fans. However, there are legitimate issues that must be resolved to ensure that the players that have proven their worth receive the money they deserve.

NFL fans will have less angst with a system that rewards players for greatness instead of for potential.

One day Sam Bradford may end up as the greatest quarterback of all-time. But regardless, he is already guaranteed to be paid as if he were.

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