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.