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April 13, 2010

More on the middle class blues

    We wrote this morning about the struggles of the NFL's middle class players to find deals this offseason.

    CB Dante Wesley, who turned down a $175,000 signing bonus here before having to accept $20,000 up front from Detroit, might be the worst case scenario. But other players have fallen victim to a market that lacked precedent, leaving many unsure how it was going to work out.

    Wesley’s agent, Russell Hicks, acknowledged prior to signing with the Lions that getting caught in the middle class trap was difficult. While many players in previous years longed for an uncapped year, thinking it would drive salaries upward, it's instead done the opposite.

    "It's not that it's harder to do a deal, it's just that the whole climate has changed," Hicks said. "Yes, there's no salary cap, but there's no salary floor either. Now all you hear are teams talking about working within a budget, and looking to build through the draft.

    "I would have definitely thought for Dante there would have been more activity. Teams are being very frugal."

    Wesley's not the only one who lost money because of bad timing.

    DE Tyler Brayton should have done well this year, hitting the market as a viable option for teams looking for a mid-range starter. He wasn't going to get the kind of deals Kyle Vanden Bosch and Aaron Kampman did early, but he should have still found a nice raise over the two-year, $4.65 million deal he signed in 2008.    

    A comparably positioned player, former Panthers DT Damione Lewis, cashed in with a three-year, $14.5 million extension from the Panthers two seasons ago. Like Brayton, he was able to shake off the first-round bust label by coming to Carolina as a role player and emerging as someone they could count on as starter and every-down player.

    But the payday wasn't there for Brayton, not this spring. He was scheduled to visit Jacksonville before Kampman signed there, and visited Seattle. In the end, the best offer was the one he found here.

    He signed a three-year, $9 million deal, but $7 million of that is in base salaries in 2011 and 2012. He got a $1 million signing bonus, and $1 million in base salary this season. His $3.5 million bases the next two years would be nice, but aren't guaranteed to be paid.

    Lewis also felt the pinch. Cut in part because of the roughly $5 million he was set to earn this year and partly because he turned 32 last month, he signed a one-year deal with $1.15 million in base salary with New England last week.

    "The whole environment changed," Lewis said prior to signing with the Patriots. "Bottom line, guys are just going to have to get through this year, and see what comes next."


— Darin Gantt

Posted by Observer Sports on April 13, 2010 at 08:12 AM | Permalink

Comments

I think it's about time that high priced athletes realize that the economy will dictate their salaries in the future. No longer should they be able to flaunt their huge salaries in the face of the average Joe who in reality is paying their salary. Why in the world have we elevated athletes to this kind of salary anyway. Most athletes in the pro sports have not even finished their college degrees. Let's change our priorities to let teachers,doctors and scientists get the kind of pay they deserve instead of an egotistical athlete who feels entitled.

Posted by: Michael Jones | Apr 13, 2010 9:49:34 AM

Poor,Poor, Millionaire football players.Wish I could say I feel their pain,but Ive never had the luxury of making a million dollars a year.

Posted by: GhostOfSparta | Apr 13, 2010 9:53:30 AM

@MichaelJones
The economy is not dictating player salaries. Salaries are in decline due to the lack of a labor contract in 2011 and the pending lockout.
There are roughly 1800 men who are talented enough to play in the NFL in any given year. That's a pretty select group in a country of 300 million people. The average NFL career is 4 years. I don't begrudge these guys the big dollars they make for the effort they put out and the risk of severe physical injury that they accept.
That said, I don't disagree with your comment about teachers. But the last time I checked my doctor was doing quite well in his $2mm house in Myers Park.

Posted by: Jimcat | Apr 13, 2010 10:19:13 AM

nothing against dante wesley, but i find it funny that he came out w/ just $20K. A special teams player with an inflated ego because he did ok at cornerback in a Tampa Two defense for one year. He should have taken our signing bonus and ran... into Clifton Smith again. Instead, he's playing for a franchise with no shot at making it to the big game before he retires.

Posted by: Jase | Apr 13, 2010 10:48:08 AM

I don't get what you guys are hating on them for. Many of the players are still humble and acknowledge that they make more than "the average Joe", and they SHOULD. They provide a product/service that over 300 million other people can't. We aren't a communist country, we are (supposed to be) a free market that rewards unique skills and hard work. These players work much harder than many of you do and they playthe game much better, so they are paid accordingly. Most of your arguments fall back on IN MY OPINION they are overpaid. Well nobody cares what your opinion is. They are paid what the NFL market dictates, get over it. You don't have to think they are in financial trouble and feel genuine sorrow, nobody asked for that. But remember many of these players didn't graduate or graduated with a worthless degree and when their league average 4-5 year career is over that 4-800k a year is the most they'll have ever made for the rest of their lives. You don't have to feel bad but you don't have to be a dick about it either.

Posted by: Gamble20 | Apr 13, 2010 11:19:26 AM

Also, you guys act like they screwed someone else over to get that money. They worked hard and got that salary through a unique set of skills ad hard work. No other way to look at it.

In the end I think this helps the NFL. Many of these players thought their value was more than it really was, and i think they'll be softer when it comes time for the new labor deal. I'm not against a players union but it gets in the way a lot of times. If there was no vet minimum there'd be a lot more players signed ect. In prosperity they are helpful a little, but when the going gets rough they drop back into WE ARENT LOSING ANYTHING WE'RE A UNION mentality which just makes thing worse. So the owners want to keep 15% more of their revenue (equating to millions) well considering the state of this economy I don't think that's a rough deal. Why ruin the NFL just over a few
bucks?

Posted by: Gamble20 | Apr 13, 2010 11:25:37 AM

For u panther fans, u r the chosen ones, god has picked up a vibe to grant the pamthers a superbowl within 7yrs. In 5yrs from the panthers are going to get a goliath. But for now only god knows....

Posted by: wi | Apr 13, 2010 6:10:46 PM

2 Gamble20 - Good point to a degree - after all they do have a unique set of skills and what price would any of us put on accelerating the damage to our bodies the way they do?

However, thus said, the 2011 situation is brewing (and the current money woes as well) because of the Union refusing to budge on the 65% share it muscled out of the owners during the prior CBA. While they are wealthy, the owners are not running a charity, and during hard economic times everyone has to cooperate. Getting 50% of the revenues is pretty good from where I sit. So, in the end, the players need to get the Union to stop grandstanding and do what is good for everyone. Or maybe they dont remember how long the NBA, MLB and NHL strikes took to recover fans - some would argue all of them are recovering still.

Posted by: manu4t | Apr 13, 2010 6:31:32 PM

dante wesley is a dumbass

Posted by: joe cool | Apr 13, 2010 7:52:02 PM

@MichaelJones
The economy is not dictating player salaries. Salaries are in decline due to the lack of a labor contract in 2011 and the pending lockout.
There are roughly 1800 men who are talented enough to play in the NFL in any given year. That's a pretty select group in a country of 300 million people. The average NFL career is 4 years. I don't begrudge these guys the big dollars they make for the effort they put out and the risk of severe physical injury that they accept.
That said, I don't disagree with your comment about teachers. But the last time I checked my doctor was doing quite well in his $2mm house in Myers Park.

--------AWESOME COMMENTARY JIMCAT!!!!

Posted by: SYRPIS | Apr 15, 2010 9:50:54 PM

To Joe Cool, I don't know if Dante's the dumbass, probably his agent is the culprit. Except for a few exceptions, Peppers being the prime example, I think the owners have taken this opportunity to show the players who's "boss" leading into the new CBA. As Dante's agent said, the salaries have actually been driven down since there was no salary floor. Instead of the Steinbrenner mindset of buying a championship, the owners seem to have met behind closed doors and reached an accord to send a message and weaken the players' bargaining position. Unfortunately for us Panther fans, Mr Richardson seems as determined as any owner to not spend money this year.

Posted by: Ron | Apr 15, 2010 10:32:33 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

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