Mark Sanchez licks his lips as he thinks of the $12 million he'll be paid this season - USA TODAY Sports
As the salary cap remains flat and quarterbacks salary's continue to rise, what's left for the remaining 52 players gets smaller. That leaves many veterans with the option of taking a pay cut or being shown the door.
More than any other sport the NFL loves to have unofficial names. I could mention the ice bowl, the fog bowl, the catch, the immaculate reception, the purple people eaters, the steel curtain, the dirty birds, the 13th man, and on and on, and most NFL fans would know what I was talking about. Well it's also true for NFL rules. There's the "Deacon Jones" rule that says it's illegal for a defensive player to slap the opposing players head. The "Emmitt Smith" rule which makes taking off the helmet while still on the field illegal. And of course the "Fred Biletnikoff" rule which makes the use of stick-em illegal after Biletnikoff slathered his entire body in the sticky substance and "caught" a pass with the back of his jersey. I don't have any proof of this actually happening but I'm pretty sure it did. Well now it might be time for a new rule; the "Joe Flacco" rule.
The "Joe Flacco" rule would state:
NFL teams will not be able to give more than 15% of their total cap space to any one player since it's causing resentment from the other 21 starters, especially those who are being asked to take pay cuts due to the exorbitant salary being paid to said player. This is particularly bad when they only reason said player is being paid so much is because he just won the Super Bowl, with the help of the rest of the team of course, and even the players own mother wonders if he really deserve to be the highest paid player in the NFL.
There's been a fair amount of talk about the flat cap and the new economy of the NFL. Between 1999 and 2009 the cap grew an average of over 8% per year. Since the new CBA was signed in 2011 the cap has barely grown 2% and that rate probably won't pick up anytime soon. This has forced a lot of teams to ask veteran players to take pay cuts even if the player is still in their prime, and since NFL contracts aren't all guaranteed many players only option is to take the pay cut or see if they could do better in the open market.
However, as we saw with Flacco, the new economy of the NFL hasn't impacted quarterbacks one bit. There are so many rules in place to protect quarterbacks and receivers, while at the same time trying to make the game more exciting, the quarterbacks value to the team has grown to the point where even an above average QB like Flacco can literally demand to be the highest paid player in the NFL and the team has almost no option but to comply. Anyone want to guess what a true star player in the league like Aaron Rodgers is going to demand when it becomes his time to sign a new contract?
As the salary cap remains flat and quarterbacks contracts keep rising the amount teams can pay for their remaining 52 players will shrink. Teams will still target key players they want to sign or keep, and those players will get big money (not QB big money but still big money), but how many of those contracts can you sign before half your cap is going to 6 or 7 players? The importance of the draft will continue to rise as a source for cheap labor and veterans, even those still in their prime, will continue to be asked to take pay cuts or take their chances as a free agent. All while Flacco's name becomes a new derogatory word as players shout at each other, "Mother flacco!"
Quarterbacks similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mark Sanchez will get contract extension despite the fact they suck, unproven quarterbacks similar to Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn will sign relatively lucrative contracts despite the fact they haven't been able to prove they suck yet, and receivers like Wes Welker who have more catches over the last 6 years than any other WR in the game will wonder why they're getting paid less than guys who's primary job during the game is to hold a clipboard.
It seems to me the best way to fix this would be to have a player salary cap, the NBA does this already so it's not unheard of in professional sports, and to make players contracts fully guaranteed. At the very least make it so the player's contract is fully guaranteed as long as he stays healthy or injured players salaries aren't counted against the cap.
I don't think the owners will ever go for fully guaranteed contracts but they might go for having a max contract situation like they have in the NBA. Or we can just replace all the players with robots who won't make contract demands, with the added bonus of not worrying about player safety, and we'd only have to hope they didn't get smart enough to take over the world one day.
In other news
Rumor has it that the newest twist on the Pro Bowl may be to have the players chose their own teams. Each team would have a captain who would then alternate between choosing players school yard style as the kickers all stood around wondering which one of them will be chosen last. If it were me I would try the opposite strategy and choose all the kickers first leaving the other team to wonder what they would do if they ever needed to punt or kick.
Meanwhile Ochocinco (or whatever he's calling himself these days) wants to come back to the NFL and is standing awkwardly by his phone as it doesn't ring, Elvis Dumervil needs a new agent and a new fax machine because in our modern age we still use fax machines, and the Bucs appear to be the only team that's made any attempt to trade for Darrell Revis but the Jets being the Jets want to see how badly they can screw this thing up.