NFL Rookies – for the game or the money?
Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Derrick Harvey will be blowing his nose with $100 bills. He has just reached an agreement for a 5-year contract worth $30 million. Harvey was the last first-round draft pick to sign, and he missed all of training camp and the first three preseason games. Harvey’s deal was comparible with Jets first-rounder Vernon Gholston, and Saints first-rounder Sedrick Ellis. Harvey’s deal was reportedly a guaranteed $17 million, which is just behind what veteran QB David Gerrard got guaranteed at $18 million. So what am I saying from all of this? The contract standards for the first-rounders needs to change, and what I’m saying is not in contrast to what the coaches and players are saying.
Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said the following regarding Harvey’s holdout: “Whats happened at the very top of the first round is ridiculous. When you’re paying the guys who have never one anything more than star football players in this league that have played for years and established themselves at this level what they’re capable of, it can be a little frustrating.” Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said the following regarding the holdout: “This was a long and challenging process for the player and for the team. This was a good example of the problem commissioner Goodell has cited with the lack of a rookie pay scale. We’re all happy that Derrick can now focus on getting on the field, being a Jaguar and contributing to the team.
I have a few issues with the high scale contracts:
1) It sets a bad precedent for the future.
NFL rookies will start to hold out for Scott Boras-caliber contracts that will make the current ones look like minimum wage. It also encourages the young players to worry more about the money than the game itself. I would like to argue that the game should be number one priority over money. Criticize me if you wish, but it is getting out of hand.
2) It opens the door for player and management resentment and bitterness.
If a young rookie decides to hold out of training camp for a huge contract, it keeps them away from the most important aspect of being on a team – orienting yourself with the other players and coaches. Sure, you can build up friendships once you get into the regular season, but it tells the team and the coaches that money is more important than the team.
3) It encourages an environment of zero accountability.
In my opinion, NFL rookies need to gain the respect and admiration of their fellow players as a team player and outstanding individual before worrying about the dollar signs. Giving a young football player too much money will not do any good for him, his family, or his friends. The perfect example of this was Michael Vick, and well, we all know what happened to him.
I’m sure my views will cause some of you to be upset, and that is fine. But the NFL will be heading in the wrong direction if it continues to allow for this sort of greed to become the name of the game.