Analysis: If Brady earns less than Stafford, system is broken
As much as the NFL does right — and few have a business model that works nearly as well as professional football — the one thing that doesn't work, that needs desperately to be changed, is the way the NFL pays its rookies.
Right now, it's a free-for-all.
It needs to be capped, regulated, somehow worked the way it works in the NBA, where picks are slotted into established salaries and first rounders don't make more than established stars.
Now isn't that CRAZY? I hate Tom Brady, but some untested rookie shouldn't be making more than him.
The way it is now, if a team is wrong on a high, first-round pick, the franchise is doomed for years. If Stafford turns out to be Joey Harrington, the Lions will be hamstrung for years to come — in much the same way as the San Diego Chargers, who were terrible for years after whiffing on Ryan Leaf.As it should be. Pay for play. Not for how you might play, hopefully. Yes, there is risk in this, but seriously, the highest paid quarter back ever (or close to it) and he had never played a single NFL game? Yes, this is a problem. Totally.
If I'm in the union, I'm thinking, "Wait a minute, I want to be sure there's a place for me on the back end of my career after I've established myself as an NFL player. Let the rookies wait their turns."
Here are my humble suggestions:
There has to be some kind of maximum rookie contract based on the round you were picked. (years, amount and bonus included) It should be flexible to allow for rise in salaries. I included bonuses in the max, because I have seen excessive signing bonuses. I would suggest 3 year contract is reasonable.
They would need to keep the minimum rules about being out of high school for at least 3 years as incentive for college play and to allow players to mature. Maybe even include a College Graduate bonus in pay structure. This would help players be better able to move on once their NFL career ends. Especially for the ones who never make it.
So, that is my 2 cents worth.