Rams Mix blog         Write for Rams blog    

Rams Mix blog featured writers Christina Armani
Write about the Rams
We believe that you the avid fan, student journalist, and or freelance writer deserve to be heard. Avid fans have a strong desire to hear from the common (or not so common) "man" as well. You are always free to write about the material of your choice, in your own unique style, and on your own schedule. So vent,enlighten and share with us!
Contact us at: writers@sportsmixed.com
Enjoy Rams rumors, news, talk?
Please help us spread the word on the Sports Mixed Network by letting friends, and family know about it. The more we grow our community of avid fans, the more features we can add. So please send a Tweet, Facebook message or better yet tell them in person.

An Undeserved Punishment

An Undeserved Punishment

By: Michael Schulte

If the NFL is really committed to parity in its league then it needs to stop crippling its lesser teams by putting them in catch-22 when it comes to the NFL Draft. Sure it's great that the Rams just got the first pick in the 2010 Draft. It's a dubious honor that no one strives for, but every year somebody has to be that team. It used to be that no one wanted to have the first draft pick for the sole reason that it meant that their team was the worst team in the NFL the year before. Now the reason is twofold. First of all, the reason stated above still applies. But now teams also have to throw money into these high draft picks in order to sign them. This makes no since, and instead of accommodating long-suffering, subpar NFL franchises, this current policy punishes teams that are trying to improve.

It is pretty obvious that when a team is in the position of picking in the top ten of the NFL draft that they need much more than just one unproven player to help them out, yet because NFL rookies now command so much money in their first contract lesser teams find themselves not having enough money to spend on other needs. One year of notoriety might not affect a team's cap numbers too much, but teams that continually find themselves in the cellar like the Browns, Lions, Raiders, and Rams have to spend millions and millions of guaranteed money to unproven draft picks who sometimes do not even work out in the National Football League. I want to specifically highlight the Rams because well this is a site about the Rams.

Rams fans have one thing going for them. Our team won the Super Bowl eleven years ago. I have never seen a fan base hold onto to one championship with so much pride and valor. But then again who can blame us? All we have ever experienced is losing. Winning that Super Bowl still means more to this city than other Super Bowls have meant to teams like the Steelers and the Patriots. They win too much and take their championships for granted, but Rams fans truly cherish the few winning seasons the Rams have had since moving to St. Louis from Los Angeles. For this reason, it is especially depressing to see the state of the Rams today. Instead of improving with young players, Rams fans have had to patiently sit through more than a handful of failed drafts with prospects that never panned out. Millions and millions of dollars later the Rams are still trying to improve through the draft. The past few years they have drafted Chris Long, Jason Smith, and now finally Sam Bradford.

According to FoxSports.com in 2009, the Rams player with the biggest salary was not the face of the franchise—Steven Jackson, it was not former all-star Marc Bulger, and it was not all-star center Jason Brown. No, instead the highest paid player on the Rams was Christ Long. Now I do not understand the precedent where a second year player who did nothing incredibly special in his rookie campaign could be the highest paid player on the Rams. But the thing is not only did he have the highest salary, but his base salary was also ten million dollars higher than any other Rams player besides Jason Brown.

This is less than fair for a team like the Rams. They need to be out working the free agent market looking for other proven players to help them fix this mess they are in. The National Football League is continuing to hinder teams like the Rams because they have so much money wrapped up in unproven rookies, and underproductive draft busts that they cannot go out and fill all of the holes they desperately need to fill. Do not get me wrong. I am a huge Chris Long fan. And I think he was a tremendous asset to the team last year. He improved greatly in his outside contain, and I think we can look for similar improvements this year, but bottom line is that the guy is not worth sixteen percent of the Rams total payroll. (For more information on Rams salary figures in 2009 visit http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/team/st.-louis-rams/salary/67051)

After two season of shelling out millions and millions of guaranteed money to Chris Long and Jason Smith, the Rams will be forced to shell out millions more if they want to sign quarterback Sam Bradford. It is expected that Bradford will command close to a seventy-eight million dollar deal with forty-five to fifty million dollars being guaranteed money. Bradford might turn out to be the next Peyton Manning—I'm not sure. But right now he is a rookie who is unproven. He also played in the spread offense at Oklahoma against some weaker Big 12 defenses so how are the Rams to know if those stats can hold up in an NFL style offense against top defenses week in and week out. (SIDENOTE: The more Bradford makes the more money quarterbacks like Manning and Brady can command when their contract expires. This leads to inflation in the free agent market which then further hinders smaller market teams like the Rams especially if the NFL remains capless.) The issue at hand is that if Bradford fails like Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf, and JaMarcus Russell before him, then the Rams as an organization will be devastated for years to come. The Rams franchise will continue to be a bottom-dweller which hurts not only the Rams, but also the NFL because then the Rams will start to lose the casual fans and less people will be up to spending money on Rams NFL merchandise.

I want to make this clear that while I am specifically arguing for a change in the system from the point of view of the Rams, this point of view could be the same for many teams. The Lions and the Browns—although both teams seem to be on the up—are two teams that jump out at me as being in very similar situations in recent year, but I am also sure that there are many other teams taking huge hits because of recent draft busts. I also want to make clear that I know the rookie pay scale is not the only reason for the Rams financial woes. It's not Roger Goddell's fault that they have made so many poor draft decisions for so many years. It is also not Roger Goddell's fault that the Rams continually make poor choices in free agency. (Can anybody say Drew Bennett?) And finally it is not Roger Goddell's fault that it took the Rams five to six years of failure to finally realize that they need real football people running their draft. But what I am trying to say is that the Rams would be greatly helped by the new system and I think teams that will inevitably be in this same situation in the future would also appreciate having a revised pay scale.

In my opinion the NBA does it the right way with their rookie wage scale. For those of you unfamiliar with the scale, how much money a rookie receives in the first two years of his contract are set based upon where he gets picked in the draft (For exact numbers look at http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=9302). This system has worked wonders for the NBA and it prevents draft busts like Darko Milicic from consuming too much of a team's payroll.

It is finally time for Roger Goddell to adopt a similar plan in the new collective bargaining agreement. According to an article I read in ESPN, both the owners, the veterans, and the union agree that as a whole the rookie pay scale in the NFL has gotten completely out of hand, and I think change is fast-approaching. I am all for the idea of having the first three years of a rookie's contract being at a set salary based on where he gets picked in the draft. I think this is fair for everyone. In no other profession besides sports do people get paid more when they first enter the business than when they leave. It only makes since for football to change their ways. After three years, if a rookie has performed at a high level then by all means shower him with guaranteed money. At least then an organization knows what they are getting.


Post a Comment