Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Where's MY signing bonus?

I've been thinking. News 14 Carolina got off way too easy when I signed my first contract there in 2002. I mean, I was a heralded veteran with 9 years in the game, loads of experience, the whole "been there, done that" thing. Yet, when I signed my first contract with the station, they did not give me a signing bonus. What the heck is that? I mean, these kids come out of college and step right into jobs, and get money that they haven't proved they are worth!

OK, that's a slight exaggeration, because there generally are NO signing bonuses for television contracts, but when NFL rookies sign their first deal (or just about any deal in the league for any player), there is generally a signing bonus, or the guaranteed money the player will earn. It begs the question, why?

First off, NFL contracts are not guaranteed, so the signing bonus money is the only portion the player KNOWS will be banked, no matter what happens (think injuries). I understand that a player needs protection for himself, especially in a game as violent as football. My question is this, though. Why are NFL rookies, guys who have yet to play a snap in an NFL game, holding teams hostage for such huge signing bonuses when they haven't proved their worth in the league?

This is also a question raised by Commissioner Roger Goodell, and I applaud the Commish on this. It is time that someone step in and say "hang on a second," to this issue. Jamarcus Russell, the top pick in the 2007 draft, missed all of training camp, and (if memory serves) 3 of the Oakland Raiders pre-season games before signing his contract. And the Raiders STILL gave him a huge signing bonus. I still can't figure that one out.

My suggestion is for the NFL to set the standard for the rookie signing bonus--make it a rookie bonus scale, if you will--similar to the NBA's rookie contract scale. The guys coming into the league know that if they are selected in round 1, they are guaranteed dollar amount X, based on their draft location. For example, pick number 1 gets more than 5 who gets more than 9, etc. It's all slotted. Granted, the NFL may have to set the top pick number at something like $7 million dollars, and slot it down by $250,000 per pick (I'm just spit balling here, so don't think this is a finished product), but still, teams know, players know, contract holdouts could become a thing of the past.

The Panthers have had contract scares in the past, with Jon Beason being the latest--he missed minimal time in Spartanburg (although I doubt he would say he "missed" it), but was in camp for a majority of the work, and was outstanding during the season. Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah are still unsigned, and training camp opens in 24 days (did I just write that?).

I love my football, but I hate it when teams are held up by a player that hasn't proven themselves yet. Either way. Proven they belong, or don't belong.

I proved I belong, so where's my signing bonus?

Mike Solarte


Mike said...

I agree with you Solarte. Huge bonuses should be rewards for players getting their second contracts who already proved what they can do on the field. A player's rookie year should be a test of his heart and commitment (playing hard for less money), not a test of how badly a 21-year-old can manage fame and an 8-digit paycheck.

Jim said...

Is free coffee not enough??

Anonymous said...

I agree. Many of the pro teams would be out of business if it wern't for TV money. If they were forced to deal with salaries based on real earnings, like most businesses, we probably would see more "realistic" salaries.

Angry Citizen said...

Though salaries and bonuses of professional athletes are exorbitant... just who should get the money you speak of?... The Owners? the vendors? I go to see the athletes play the game. In the NFL, life expectancy is around 4years. If the teams don't like it, they could get some of the broken-down veterans and pay them the exorbitant salaries. See if the seats are filled...
singed: GET OVER IT!!!

Angry Citizen said...
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Ilya Kovalchuk said...

Is it too early to call Roger Goodell the best commissioner in sports right now? How can you not be impressed by his hardline stance on troubled athletes, his transparency during "Spygate" and now this? The guy knows what to say and how to say it. Seems to command a lot of respect.

David Stern, I guess, is the top guy right now because of his longevity. Even though that referee scandal doesn't help.

Bud "Tie Game" Selig and Gary "Versus" Bettman are clearly donkeys.

Jason Spells said...
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