Chicago Sun-Times

The cost of the 18th pick in the draft

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We've about reached the peak of mock draft season now that we're 33 days away from the NFL draft.

Offensive tackle and wide receiver are popping up most frequently as the positions the Bears will address, you know, if they don't deal the pick and more ransom to the Denver Broncos for Jay Cutler.

We'll certainly look more closely at who the Bears will be targeting in the days and weeks to come. But for now, let's examine the cost of the first-round pick. There's never a cookie cutter deal to work off of in the NFL, but unless the Bears surprise many and draft a quarterback, the contract of the 18th pick from 2008 will not be real applicable for the Bears.

That is the pick the Baltimore Ravens used to grab quarterback Joe Flacco last year. Quarterback contracts are always a little different, as we'll illustrate below.

The Bears had an interesting situation a year ago, too, when they were in the same slot as New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, the 14th pick in 2007. Revis' deal was different in that it voided after the fourth year but the Jets had an option to buy back years Five and Six. So, chances are that once again the Bears will not be working off a contract from the previous year that will be a good fit for them. It might be a great fit for the player, though, so keep that in mind when the time for negotiations comes.

Here is a look at the three previous 18th overall picks and their deals:

2008 Baltimore QB Joe Flacco $8.4 million guaranteed, $11.9 million real value, $29.8 million max value

2007 Cincinnati CB Leon Hall $8.2 million guaranteed, $11.0 million real value, $13.6 million max value

2006 Dallas LB Bobby Carpenter $7.8 million guaranteed, $10.8 million real value, $10.8 million max value

So, it looks like the Bears will have to guarantee the 18th pick in the draft somewhere in the neighborhood of $8.5 million. That is $1 million less than Chris Williams received as the 14th overall pick last year.

It's worth noting that Flacco already triggered $3 million in escalators toward that maximum value by hitting an 80 percent play time trigger as a rookie that increased his base pay by $750,000 over each of the next four seasons. He also picked up $400,000 for winning two playoff games.

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It is nothing less than obscene that rookies get paid this kind of money while some veterans get a lot less. This needs to be changed immediately. If some players coming out of college are not willing to wait to show they can perform well in the NFL before receiving annual million dollar salaries, good riddance to them. They can go flip burgers for minimum wage, which is all the vast majority of them are capable of doing.

The NFL should change to a pay scale based strictly on performance and time in the league. That would prevent rookies from taking money from veterans, as is now happening with these totally ridiculous rookie contracts. The players union would have to get some mandatory protection for veterans so that teams don't get rid of players just because they're older, but this is easily doable.

Just like the financial industry, NFL owners have shown that they need much stricter regulations, because they've acted irresponsibly by grossly overspending on some players. This has been to the great detriment not only to veteran players, but to the game itself. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm beyond sick of prima donna rookies who haven't played a down in the NFL demanding multi-million dollar salaries.

Wrigley Field Bear is certainly correct in asserting that fans are sick of rookie prima donnas thinking they are worth more than tested veterans. On the other hand,given the potential for career-ending injuries, one can hardly blame them for wanting some security, but a million dollar plus signing bonus is one hell of a lot of security.Certainly a pay scale based on seniority and proven merit would be a boon to the game. The salaries have gotten completely ridiculous and make about as much sense as the bonuses for the AIG bigwigs.


SWEET!!! start year 1-0

The Bears do need to look at getting Jay Cutler. We have already seen what we are going to continue getting from Kyle Orton, which is game management, with no ability to consistently connect on the deep passes. The same problem we had with Rex, just in reverse, that he could not manage the game, but he could give you the deep ball most of the time when it was called. If the Bears are going to solidify the QB position, then there has never been a better time to do it than right now, make the Broncos an offer they can`t refuse, and bring the Bears future QB to the place where former teamates Chris Williams, and Earl Bennett are waiting for their QB to join them.

The main reason people think rookie salaries are too high is because they have unrealistically low expectations of what an equivalent veteran player would get payed. The second problem is that agents publish the contract information complete with a rose tinted filter in which any possible hike in the pay (however unlikely the achievment to obtain the increase may be) is sold to the public as a 'bonus'. Which every lazy journalist on the planet willingly conflates with 'guaranteed bonus money'. The last problem is that no one ever goes back and looks at the actual amount of money received by busted draft picks (ie Benson never even got the amount of money that was allegedly guaranteed - and rightly so).

There is also a fallacy that spending money on veterans is safer than the same money given to rookies. Ask Jacksonville whether they are happy with the money they gave Drayton Florence or Jerry Porter, both of whom received compensation equivalent to a draft pick between #10 and #15 and both of whom contributed almost nothing before getting cut. If you don't want to look that far afield then just look at Nathan Vasher. I have no idea what commenters around here were saying when the Bears locked him up long term, but I doubt there were many posters ripping the Bears for wasting a load of bonus money.

Yes Matt Ryan got a huge deal last offseason, but he was worth every penny. An equivalent QB hitting the free agent market (or even being re-signed by his original team) would have gotten a contract worth 50% more at least, and would probably have received a good deal more of that money when all is said and done. Similarly Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Jared Mayo, Keith Rivers, Chris Johnson, Jeff Otah etc. The real scandal involving rookie salaries should be how little productive players like Forte, Desean Jackson or Eddie Royal are likely to receive.

Bottom line in the league is you take a risk when you spend a lot of money; draft, free agency or resigning your own guys.


With no experienced offensive line to speak of, it will be 0-1 for the bears. Sorry to burst your bubble but it takes a season or two for the offensive line to get into sync. The Pack will have a field day. Orton will be running for his life. Forte needs an experienced offensive line to open holes for him. That won't happen. Forte may get hurt trying to make something happen. You can blame the bears for not starting earlier in rebuilding the line. You can blame them a second time for not keeping St.Clair for another season while the youngsters get their feet wet.
But this could all be good news as well. Another rotten season and lovie/angelo gets fired....finally. Until that happens, the bears are going nowhere.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 23, 2009 10:29 AM.

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