NFL Draft – A Call for Change

Mar 29, 2008

Having the #1 pick in the draft used to be a great thing.  While it’s still nice to be able to pick anyone from the incoming class, it also comes with its problems.  Mainly, you have to rob a bank in order to pay them.  JaMarcus Russell, for example, got a cool $60 million with half of it guaranteed.  Why should someone without any experience become one of your top paid players without proving a thing? Since these rookie salaries have gotten so out of control, it impacts the type of player you take with the #1 pick.  Of the 8 picks this decade, 6 of them have been Quarterbacks.  If you go back ten years, the have been 8 QBs taken.  In the 90′s only 4 QBs were taken first overall.  Three in the 80′s.  Three in the 70′s.  Three in the 60′s.  Five in the 50′s, and three from 1936-1949.  You pay so much for these guys that you want to choose a player that is going to have a long career.  You don’t necessarily take the best player available.  Houston is the perfect example.  Although Mario Williams had a great season last year, you just know if money weren’t an issue, the Texans would have taken Reggie Bush.  Not only would he help your sputtering offense immediately, he’d help put butts in the seats and inject life into your franchise.  The Texans, however, knew Bush was going to ask for the moon so they avoided him.  The sad thing is these quarterbacks are such a risk.  Of the last 8 QBs taken #1 you have busts in David Carr and Tim Couch, the jury is still out on Alex Smith (although it’s not looking good) and JaMarcus Russell, and Michael Vick is in jail.  Your success stories are Peyton, Eli, and Carson Palmer.  That’s a ton of cash for a crap shoot. 

Another problem with the way the NFL Draft is set up is the payscales of the picks.  You have a waiting game to see what the players around you are getting, which often leads to holdouts.  Say what you will about the NBA, I like how they have the salaries slotted going into the draft.  That way you know what you’re getting.  The NFL is a little trickier because different positons receive different salaries, but they have enough lawyers and accountants to figure out how to work it out.  Here’s an idea.  Compare all of the average salaries for each position.  Whichever position has the top salary gets 100% of the slot.  If your position averages 20% less than the top position, you only get 80% of the slot. 

The monies that NFL teams are dealing with are ridiculous.  We complain about gas prices all the time, but nobody seems to care about the crazy amount of money these NFL teams bring in.  We’re the ones paying for it.  Have you seen what good NFL tickets are going for these days?  Taking a family of four could cost you $600 or more.  I’m sorry, but that’s ridiculous.  When we do complain about the NFL revenues, it’s always directed towards the players.  I understand that they are more visible (both in terms of how you associate them with the team, and all to often because they showcase their wealth), but they are only small players in the grand scheme.  It’s the owners that are raking in the big bucks.  They are rarely taken to task for it though.  We gripe about players holding out when their contracts are beyond a fantasy for most of us.  Some times, though, the owners more than have the money to pay them, and their worth to the team justifies that they are paid more.  I’ve gone out on a tangent again, but I am in the camp that says let’s look past the players for a while because we have bigger fish to fry.    To tie this back to my original point, the financial system of the NFL needs a tweak.  One of the most sensible ways would be to come up with a rookie payscale.   

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