The record-breaking NFL rookie contracts are last month’s news, but what’s surprising is that few people are actually criticizing the whiny veterans who are upset about rookies getting their pay day. The way I look at it is that a free market will set a fair price for talented players. Sure, some teams might be willing to overpay to get the big-name rookie, but thats the way a free market works. Sometimes people pay a premium.
If I’m a team owner, sure Tom Brady is valuable, but is he really worth that much more than Matt Ryan’s 6 year $66 million deal? Brady is older and likely to begin fading in the coming years. Whereas a fresh rookie like Matt Ryan is a gamble that could pay off big if he can deliver the goods.
To put this argument into perspective, let’s compare NFL players to BMWs. Let’s say Tom Brady is a 2003 M5, with 400 a horsepower engine that’s performing flawlessly, but he has 50,000 miles on it. Matt Ryan on the other hand would be a 2008 M5 with a redesigned body style. Maybe the 2009′s horsepower is a little less than the ’03, and has zero miles on it and the engine still needs to be broken in. But after the engine breaks in, you can install a custom exhaust system to provide a horsepower boost to put him on par with the ’03 M5. Given this metaphor, doesn’t it make sense to pay more for the new M5 than the ’03 with 50,000 miles?
The vets simply have too much wear and tear and are likely to have engine problems sooner than top-prospect rookies. Their pay is reflective of this, and its time for the vets to stop whining and face the fact that they are going to be in the shop for tune ups sooner than a new M5 like Matt Ryan. Just let the market dictate the prices because a salary cap will only place an artificially high price on the used cars and an artificially low price on the new models — and who wants that?