Roger Goodell is excellent at diverting attention

Roger Goodell is excellent at diverting attentionRoger Goodell, NFL commissioner recently came out to say that he thought rookie contracts were outrageous, or, in his terms, “ridiculous“. This was lauded by players and fans alike. After all, rookies are yet to perform on the field, and what of players who have been out there, busting their butts to earn their money? What if the player never pans out? People have wondered on this subject for years, and Goodell’s statement certainly didn’t fall on deaf ears, however it only deflects attention away from the most significant problem with NFL salaries.
Now, the NFL is the most profitable of the sports leagues and certainly, the money is there. The problem with the rookie salary is that it’s being diverted from other players because of the salary cap. The real reason that players like Matt Ryan are getting huge contracts, comparable to proven players like Peyton Manning is that as time progresses, the cap goes up and teams have more to spend. It’s not so much that Ryan is getting an unfair contract as it relates to other players in the league, he just got the newest contract, and with inflation, it happens to be nearly at the rate of those who signed before him.
But that’s not the point. The rookie contract is the most important of the player’s career, because it could be the only time they receive any money. Let’s say that instead of playing 11 games last year, and recording 13 tackles for the Houston Texans, rookie Zach Diles ruptured his Achilles in training camp and he was cut. Sure, Diles never played a down in the NFL, but at the same time, the sport will now have affected his life forever. All he will take away from the game is the signing bonus of nearly $57,000 that he accepted. The rest of his $1.72 million dollar deal is forever lost. Other players later in their career are sometims not guaranteed any money for new contracts, despite the risk they take every time they step on the field.
Fortunately for Mr. Diles, he did not rupture his Achilles and will assume the role of starting strong side line backer for the Texans next year, having fought his way through one tough season in the NFL. Now, of course, he won’t be making as much money as, say Paul Posluszny who was about as productive as Diles last season, but frankly, I’m OK with that. People who perform better in college get better jobs in every profession, and football is no different. The problem is that at any point, one of these players could get injured and their contracts would be thrown out.
Think of the signing bonus and guaranteed money then as insurance. If the player somehow gets himself injured, it’s a small sum against the total he could have earned, had he maximized his earnings. Any smart NFLer should know that their NFL career is not guaranteed, even if they sign a contract. That’s why, until those careers can be guaranteed, rookies should make as much as the owners will give them. (By the way, the picture is Diles making a tackle. Finding an action shot is tough. He’s an elusive fellow.)

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