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Chris Johnson and THE TRUTH About NFL Contracts

Chris Johnson Wants to Get to the Money! Deal with it America!

Yesterday the sports world entered an uproar over Chris Johnson telling “fake Titans fans” to leave him the entire hell alone about his contract negotiations. Johnson said he really doesn’t care if people think he’s greedy and that people shouldn’t be comparing themselves to his situation.

Granted, it’s always a lot less hassle to keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself, but Chris is alluding to two things I think are important:

1. Fans need to grasp the concept of market value. Athletes are paid a lot of money because A LOT OF MONEY IS MADE OFF OF THEM. Athletes are one of the few classes of employees left that are actually still paid comparable to what their bosses make. Just because the rest of America doesn’t mind toiling away for a fraction of what the executives take home doesn’t mean athletes should adapt to that sort of mentality.

I said before that I don’t think it’s realistic for Johnson to ask for what I would consider “elite wide receiver” money, but a significant raise he is due. Not just because he’s good but because he puts the team in a position to make more money. No, the Titans aren’t going to the super bowl just because they have Johnson. But watching football is more than about winning-it’s about great moments in sports. And Johnson provides such moments and puts asses in LP Field seats.

2. For NFL players, contracts are contracts. For NFL owners, they’re “tentative agreements.” When a player wants more money, they’re under contract. When they’d like to leave a team, they’re under contract. But when a team decides to cut a player, they’re simply breaking the agreement. When a team forces a player to either restructure or leave, they’re simply breaking the agreement. Fans see very little issues with teams cutting players under contract but when players ask for raises, suddenly there is this sense that everyone should just abide by the original terms.

To Johnson’s credit, he did call his detractors “fake fans.” That’s a great save and does have some validity. How much of a fan can you be if you don’t understand that there is a business side to the sport you love? That’s not to say we all have to agree that Johnson is right to hold out, but thinking this is as simple as “just stick to your contract” isn’t very smart.

As the Toronto Sun put it:

Part of what makes the NFL so attractive to its middle-class fan base is its stark divide between rich and poor (comparatively speaking). Contracts are conditional on health and performance. This year’s star is next year’s construction worker. Everyone but the gilded few is one turned ankle or two consecutive fumbles away from unemployment.

And that’s the damn truth!  Given how quickly running backs wear down, this may be Johnson’s last chance to get to the money!

Speaking of which, Albert Breer defends Johnson on Worth checking out.

For what it’s worth, I did check Johnson’s mentions and the vast majority of folks are in support of him, but it looks like some of the racist things got him a little upset. Plus, this whole situation has GOT to be stressful. I mean Bud Adams is not your typical owner and the Titans aren’t your typical organization. It’s not unlikely that Johnson could end up not playing for the Titans this year. The depth of dysfunction in Tennessee is pretty striking. This isn’t Robert Kraft we’re dealing with. I mean crazy ass Cortland Finnegan is using his locker right now.






Michael Vick Signs SECOND 100 Million Dollar Contract-Frees Up Room For Desean Jackson

Michael Vick Should Be Able to Pay off His Debts and Have Something Left Over (I hope)

Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick just signed a 6 year deal with the team that is worth 100 million dollars with about 40 million of it guaranteed. If you remember, back in 2004 Vick signed a 10 year 130 million dollar deal with the Atlanta Falcons. It made him the richest player in the NFL at the time. Before he was found to own a dogfighting business, it was assumed that he would play out the rest of his career in Atlanta.

Barring any further foolishness he should be ending his career in Philadelphia. If his legs don’t hold up, they can always cut him after a few years.Before this latest contract was signed, Vick was due to make $16 million from the Eagles for this season. This deal should take Vick’s cap number from 16.2 million to 14.4 million. That means he will make less for the season freeing up a room in the salary cap for wide receiver Desean Jackson, who held out of most of training camp, to get a pay increase.

Now we’ll have to wait and see how the signing bonus pans out to really have an idea of what Desean can get. Signing bonuses are prorated against the cap over the length of the deal. Either way this restructuring helps the Eagles cap. Philadelphia media is sold on the Eagles cutting corner back Joselio Hanson which would give them another 2.4 million in cap space (estimated). It is kind of crowded on the team at that position these days! If they do cut Hanson, that will help Desean’s case as well.

For context.

Peyton Manning’s was reported 5 years, $90M with $54.4M guaranteed. Tom Brady’s was 5 years, $78.5M with $48.5M guaranteed.

Congratulations to Vick and here’s lookin at you Desean.

As far as Vick’s debt is concerned, his creditors have to be smiling. Let’s take a look at his circumstances. First of all, he’s on a court-ordered budget until 2015:


Under the terms of the budget, he is permitted to spend $3,500 each month for rent in Philadelphia, with another $750 for “utilities and miscellaneous.” There is no provision in the budget for buying dinner for his offensive linemen.

He is also obligated to pay $3,712 per month on the mortgage for the only remaining residence he owns, an unimpressive house in Hampton, Va., where his fiancée, Kijafa Frink, lives with the couple’s two children, Jada and London. In a rare bit of extravagance, the budget permits Vick to pay $1,355 monthly for a private school for the children.

Although there is a budget provision for “living expenses,” his car allowance is only $472 per month, a far cry from Vick’s pre-arrest collection of F-450 pickups and $100,000 luxury automobiles.

Vick’s mother, who was on his payroll in his previous professional life, is limited to $2,500 per month under the budget, a significant reduction from the salary and gifts Vick once bestowed upon her. He is also required to pay $3,000 per month to support former girlfriend Tameka Taylor and their son, Mitez.

The budget provides more generously for Vick’s agent, Joel Segal, and for Vick’s team of bankruptcy lawyers. Vick will pay Segal $32,500 this year, another $104,000 next year, and then $160,000 each year through 2015. It’s a total of nearly $800,000.

The fees Vick will pay to the bankruptcy lawyers are scheduled to be $748,750 this year, another $1,058,080 next year and a total during the budget years of $2.6 million.

The budget is part of a plan that is supposed to allow him to pay off the debts he accumulated before his arrest. It’s based on Vick’s playing well enough to earn a bonanza free-agent contract at the end of the current season, and it provides for total payment to his creditors of more than $12 million between now and 2015.

As a “reorganized debtor,” Vick’s income will be distributed to his family and his creditors in accordance with a court-approved schedule. As his income increases, he pays more of it to the creditors. (See the accompanying table.)

Other People’s Money

The more Michael Vick makes, the higher the percentage that goes somewhere other than into his pocket. Here’s how it works

Schedule of Payments


Percentage to Creditors


10 percent

$750,001-$2.5 million

25 percent

$2,501,000-$10 million

30 percent

Above $10 million

40 percent

As Munstor points out, Vick could have filed Chapter 7 and never paid back the bulk of his debts. But he didn’t. And that’s commendable.






Titans Owner Says “Life is Too Short” To Deal With The Way Chris Johnson is Acting

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson wants to be shown da monay!

This whole Chris Johnson thing just keeps getting sillier. If you’re behind, Chris Johnson is set to make 800K and is clearly worth more than that but how much more is still under review. Chris Johnson wants Wide Receiver money, the Titans want to give him running back money.

From Titans Insider:

…the Larry Fitzgerald contract with the Arizona Cardinals (eight years, $120 million with $50 million guaranteed) will certainly complicate matters for the Titans in terms of money.

Johnson’s camp was already looking for “playmaker” money, far beyond the $21 million guaranteed ($43 million total) forked over by the Carolina Panthers to running back DeAngelo Williams at the start of training camp that made Williams arguably the highest paid running back in the league. Adrian Peterson is making $10.72 million in base salary in the final year of his rookie deal, and Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams has a deal that is close in terms of overall pay to what Williams signed.

Couple things here. I’m tired of hearing people say that Larry Fitzgerald’s contract is going to complicate things for the Titans or any other team with a running back to resign. Any running back asking for elite wide receiver pay at a position that wears down really quickly simply isn’t reasonable, and that comparison shouldn’t be entertained. So, like, stop saying that.

Johnson’s agent Joel Segal has me stumped. I can’t figure out if he’s explained this to Johnson to no avail, or if he’s masterminding the numbers.

And sidebar: I don’t know the details of Fitz’s contract, but if the Eagles or Falcons ever signed a WR for that much money (EVEN IF IT WAS LARRY FITZGERALD) I’d go into convulsions. Maybe Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner’s economical ways have rubbed off on me. Of course, the Falcons and Eagles aren’t heavily reliant on one player to put asses in seats as the Arizona Cardinals absolutely are.

Moving on, forget about wide receivers, even comparing running backs gets us into a little trouble. If we’re looking at Jackson, Williams and Johnson consider this fact. Right before the lockout ended, Carolina was 30.6 million under the salary cap, St. Louis was 35.7 under, and the Titans ?? They  were 13.6 million under the cap.

It took some significant restructuring for Carolina to resign their center to a bigger contract as well as Deangelo Williams. At this point in the process, it’d be difficult for the Titans to restructure enough to give Johnson anything over 13 million. I’m no salary cap expert, but I gather that even that contract might be structured oddly. Right now the Titans are just under 7 million under the salary cap. And the Panthers, for example, are about 2.5 million under with not much left to do.

At this point, it may be a question of whether Johnson wants money or whether he wants to play for the Titans. I would compare this to newly minted Eagles Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. He could have gotten more money elsewhere in the league but wanted to play for Philly. He settled for less money to head to a contender. Johnson’s considerations are different-no one is chanting Superbowl for the Titans this year-but ultimately if your asking price is too high it all comes down to how much you want to stay.

For what it’s worth, I think the Titans have been way too public with their comments and have contributed to making this a standoff. If you remember, a few weeks ago they said they’d contacted Johnson and told him they wanted to make him the highest paid running back in the NFL. Chris Johnson responded by saying that he hadn’t been contacted. In other words, he accused the organization of lying. One thing I think the Eagles do better than a lot of teams is draw a hard line in terms of what they’re willing to pay. And when they draw the line, they mean it.

Have the Titans put down a final offer? Cause there’s only two weeks left until the season begins and Johnson hasn’t practiced once. He’s also lost a year toward free agency based on the new rules. I really didn’t think this thing would get dragged into the regular season, but it looks more and more likely. Titans Insider quotes Bud Adams as saying:

“I’m not gonna make any offer with the way he’s acting. Life’s too short,” Adams said.



NFL Quarterback Crisis: My Biggest Gripe With A World Where Rex Grossman Has Options

Tavaris Jackson had a few chances in Minnesota and didn't deliver. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thinks a stable situation will turn his play around.

I feel like I’ve gone on too much about the dearth of talent at the QB position in the NFL. But since there has been a bunch of movement at the QB spot over the two weeks, I suppose it’s appropriate to discuss it really briefly again.

Redskins QB Rex Grossman turned down a longer term offer with the Redskins preferring to sign a one year contract and keep his options open. On one hand, given Grossman’s previous performances, this could serve as a prime example of the audacity of NOPE. But, since the current NFL will now boasts Snap-starved Tavaris Jackson at the helm for the Seahawks and a very unproven Kevin Kolb taking 30 million + to take over the Arizona Cardinals, Grossman’s comment almost seems acceptable.


Middling QBs are having the best year ever! And rookies that have to start right away might be having the worst. I’ll be interested to see how football commentators assess Andy Dalton and Cam Newton as they lead the disastrous Bengals and win-deficient Panthers from day 1. Both rookies will have it tough.

As for Rex Grossman, he is still going to have to “compete” for the starting spot in Washington with some dude named John Beck who I was going to research but lost interest half way through. In fact, I don’t plan to mention the Redskins much at all this year. As I’ve been told, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”

The main thing that is disappointing to me about bad quarterbacking is the impact it has on receivers. I’m rooting for Kolb to be good because I want Larry Fitzgerald to be good. I’m rooting for Tavaris Jackson to succeed because I want Sidney Rice to succeed. And so on. This is one thing to keep in mind as you build fantasy teams…who’s getting your guy the ball? Anyway, a great receiver on a team with a bad QB makes me feel like I’m being cheated out of something great.

All the more reason for the NFL to think about how it can better nurture and preserve QB talent.

A little bit on good cap management

Everyone was wondering how the Philadelphia Eagles could sign so a many high value players and remain under the salary cap. Peter King sums it up.

Understand this principle to start: The Eagles were not in bad cap shape to begin with. When free agency opened they were at $99 million in commitments to veterans and draft choices. (More about those later.) They had shed big veteran salaries over the last couple of years — including quarterback Donovan McNabb’s — and by opening day 2010 had the third-youngest 53-man roster in football. Young means salary manageable.

As of Sunday morning, the Eagles’ projected roster (there’s some guesswork here, but it’s close) consisted of 35 players with cap numbers of $1.5 million or less. And only six players — quarterback Mike Vick ($16.1 million cap number), cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha ($10 million), cornerback Asante Samuel ($9.34 million), tackle Jason Peters ($6.54 million), and defensive ends Jason Babin ($5.3 million) and Trent Cole ($5 million) — had cap figures of $5 million or more.

King goes on to say:

Not including Asomugha, the eight free agent signings and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who came from Arizona in the Kevin Kolb trade, have zero dollars promised to them for 2012 and beyond. There are years remaining on contracts, yes. But guarantees, no.

Point is, this is the kind of cap situation that can absorb Vick at $16.1 million this year, and Asomugha at $10 million this year and $11 million next year. And the kind of cap that can accommodate a very good player like Cullen Jenkins, the best rush defensive tackle on the market, who never saw the market develop for him the way he thought it would.

Jenkins thought his first-choice team, Philadelphia, wouldn’t sign him after giving Asomugha a four-year, $48-million contract. The Eagles convinced Jenkins they still wanted him badly, but just couldn’t pay him what they’d been discussing pre-Nnamdi. After a night to think about it, Jenkins decided he’d rather play where he wanted for $4 million than to go to a Cincinnati-type team for more money. Jenkins figures he’ll still have another payday if he outperforms this contract in the first year or two. The reputation of the Eagles helped — as did some players’ desire to play on Vick’s team.

One more thing about the Eagles’ cap. It’s not the league’s number of $120.38 million per team. It is actually $125.58 million. That includes $2.2 million in what the league calls “reallocation credits” from the last capped year, 2009, when the Eagles didn’t spend to the cap, and the $3 million every team can borrow from a future cap year to support veteran player costs this season.

Love that King mentions guys wanting to play with Vick, and if you haven’t checked my Vick bromance post, you should.




Titans Chris Johnson Should (and will) Hold Out For At Least 5 Million

It’s frustrating to even talk about new contracts when teams aren’t even allowed to communicate with players. But shit, what the hell! Let’s jump into it.

Chris Johnson SHOULD get a new deal, and not just because I’m anxious for him to never rap again. I’m not into head to head competition but if someone said Chris Johnson is the best running back in the league right now, I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow or ask how they came to that conclusion. It doesn’t make sense for a player of his caliber to earn 800K a year ESPECIALLY at the most short lived position in the league. Even in this pass oriented league, running backs get worn down quickly especially in this age of gianormous defenders.

Despite the Titans being perennially challenged in the win column and having quarterback and coach drama galore Johnson, who is still under his rookie contract, has been productive.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Johnson has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first three seasons, and in 2009, became the sixth NFL player ever to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

The Titans drafted Jake Locker and most of the news coming out of Tenneesee is pointing to him starting right away now that Vince Young is no longer their guy. What better asset to a team that has a new QB than to be able to pass to a productive running back. I’d say that’s even more of a benefit than having an elite wide receiver since new QBs tend to struggle completing and need reliable options for shorter passes.

Locker in particular comes into the league with some accuracy issues:

While Locker’s rushing numbers at Washington are impressive — 1,939 yards and 29 touchdown — Palmer points out that he has plenty of room for improvement in other facets.

The biggest knock on Locker is passing accuracy. His career completion percentage was 53.92, lower than the other top quarterbacks drafted this year. In this film session, however, Palmer shows only completions.

On some plays, Locker’s footwork is sloppy as he gets anxious in the pocket. Palmer shows a play against BYU. Locker fails to show enough patience to let a screen develop. He rolls too wide, causing the play to break down.

Palmer also shows plays that Locker makes look easy but will be far more difficult in the NFL with ball-hawking safeties such as Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu lurking.


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