Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How Eli Manning Ruined The St. Louis Rams

With a record deal in the works between Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams, I can't help but think the obvious: Wow, the Rams front office is full of idiots. Ever since they lost Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams have been careening on a downward spiral. And this upcoming Bradford deal will have them scraping the bottom of the NFL barrel for years to come.

Peyton Manning was drafted first overall in 1998. Since then, quarterbacks drafted at #1 are: Tim Couch (1999), Michael Vick (2001), David Carr (2002), Carson Palmer (2003), Eli Manning (2004), Alex Smith (2005), JaMarcus Russel (2007), Matthew Stafford (2009), and Sam Bradford (2010). There's lots to say about draft busts - and don't worry we'll countdown the top draft busts on a Countdown Friday in the near future. But even if Bradford turns out to be a solid player, the Rams still made an enormous mistake.

Why? Today's post has nothing to do with skill. It's all about straight dolla's.

Up until 2004, the first overall pick received about $10 million dollars in guaranteed money. There were some fluctuations, but this number never exceeded $12.25 million. So what changed? Enter NFL crybaby Eli Manning. "I don't wanna play in San Diego! Trade me!" Somebody call whine-1-1, we need a whambulence.

But I digress. Eli changed everything. Not because he's good at football *cough* but because of his contract: six years, $54 million, with $20 million guaranteed. It was double the guaranteed money of Carson Palmer, the #1 overall from just one year before. And since Eli's deal in 2004, guaranteed money has continued to increase at an alarming rate. Bradford is expected to sign for approximately $50 million guaranteed.

I don't think Bradford will be a bust. I think he'll be a decent player who'll win 4 or 5 games this year and 6 or 7 next year. But even if he turns out to be good, the Rams have shot themselves in the foot. How are you supposed to build a team around a quarterback when there's no money left to buy a decent player? You can't. The best teams in recent years are the ones like the Patriots and the Steelers and the Saints, who built a solid foundation and then found talent later in the draft or in free agency.

The moral of the story? Don't draft #1 in the NFL. Ever. I can see why the Devils gave Kovalchuck a deal worth $102 million. And I can almost see why the Atlanta Hawks paid Joe Johnson. But to give a guy who's never played in the pros $50 million in guaranteed cash? I'm stupefied.


  1. These Eli Haters are a real annoying bunch. I read that recently on some message board and it's the damn truth. Even heard something stupid on the radio this morning--some Steven Smith joker or someone. Thankfully, they're getting smaller every year.

  2. While I am not familiar with how exactly Sam Bradford's deal is structured, it is highly likely that almost NONE of the money will count against the cap - simply put, it's not like the Rams won't have money to spend to build a solid team. They are giving him a lot of money, but considering how much revenue the NFL takes in (billions just from tv alone) and how much money a "franchise" quarterback can garner in revenue from everything from season tickets to apparel, this is not too outrageous. Give the kid and his agent a break - one bad "break" for Bradford and none of his salary is guaranteed (not like MLB). He is merely protecting himself and if he turns out to take the Rams to the playoffs a handful of times in his career, the Rams will make back whatever money they spent on the guaranteed part of his contract (and then some).

  3. You're right about somethings. But if only it were that simple. It's impossible to say what amount of money will count against the "cap" because, simply put, there's no cap this year.

    Under the previous structure of the collective bargaining agreement, every dollar of guaranteed money plus most of the money that isn't guaranteed counted against the cap. The signing bonus would be prorated over the course of a contract, so if he signed for six years, $50 million guaranteed, the cap would take a $8.33 million hit plus his annual salary each year. But we can't really know cap ramifications until a new CBA is established. In fact, some football experts think there will be no salary cap for many years to come (more on this sometime later).

    But the point of this article isn't criticizing Bradford. If I were him, I'd get as much guaranteed money as I could too. But for the Rams to put him ABOVE guys like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady NOW is absurd. You can agree with that. Look at Phillip Rivers, a great - but not elite - quarterback who signed a new deal this year. His deal has $38.15 million guaranteed. Here's a proven guy who leads his team to the playoffs almost every year, and he's STILL making $10+ million less in guaranteed money than Bradford. Even you can see that's ridiculous. All I'm saying is that the COST of a #1 overall draft pick rarely makes picking first a good thing for a franchise.

    And you're wrong to think that the Rams get to keep all the money they might make from playoff games. The NFL owners have a very extensive revenue sharing agreement. Things like jersey sales, ticket sales, the TV deal, are split between franchises based on certain established rules.

    And if the Rams make it to the playoffs, it won't be because of Bradford. Boomer Sooner : )