After finishing 0-16 last season, the Detroit Lions rightfully earned themselves the No. 1 pick in today’s draft. Ever since their season ended on January 4th, the Lions have effectively been on the clock. Well after reaching agreement with former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford they are effectively off the clock.
Detroit signed Stafford to a six-year deal that includes $41.7 million in guaranteed money and potentially worth $78 million. No those figures are not typos and yes the almost $42 million in guarantees is a record. Previously the most money given to a draft pick was $32 million guaranteed to QB JaMarcus Russell out of LSU and now of the Oakland Raiders in 2007.
Needless to say, this deal marks a very disturbing point in the NFL. One where a rookie is making top-end money that only the very best playing his position make. It’s just simply not right that someone who has yet to even step on a professional field, let alone play a down in the NFL, will be paid that type of money.
In just two years, the guaranteed money for the No. 1 overall pick has increased $10 million, that’s out of control. By 2020 we could be looking at $100 million guaranteed for a player that has never played a down of pro football.
It has to change and it has to change now. It is time for the league and the player’s association to sit down and come to an agreement on a more structured, realistic rookie contract formula.
The current CBA (collective bargaining agreement which governs operations in the NFL) expires in two years and there is already a lot of talk of this issue being addressed but it really needs to be addressed now. It’s just way out of control and all it does is hurt the NFL.
The draft is such a crap shoot that for teams to pay the type of money they are paying to No. 1 picks, for them to fail would absolutely cripple the franchise for several years. It is devastating. It costs coaches, general managers, even presidents their jobs all because of one pick, one player. It gives fans a complex for perhaps decades. It’s true!
So for heaven sakes, let’s get back to reality here NFL and fix the pay scale for rookie players. Please? I don’t want anymore complexes.