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Lions starting to feel the pain of the old rookie salary structure

Posted by ttwentyman on February 24, 2012 – 6:50 pm

The antiquated system of paying insanely high contracts to the top draft picks has now been replaced by a system that diverts that money to veteran players.

Unfortunately for the Lions, it came a little too late to help their current cap situation. The Lions don’t have a ton of salary cap space available for 2012, in part, because of the large contracts signed by high draft picks like Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh.

There is a silver lining for the Lions, though. At least they hit a homerun with each of the aforementioned picks and those players are now the young foundation of the team.

Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, Johnson’s cap number is around $22 million next season, which is why the Lions are hoping to sign an extension this offseason to reduce that number.

“Obviously, Calvin is going into his second contract and has a much higher base than some other players would have,” said Lions general manager Martin Mayhew at the NFL Scouting Combine Friday. “It’s an ongoing effect of drafting that high. I think originally, the idea and the concept was to help teams that hadn’t performed as well by letting them pick earlier. But what ended up happening over a period of time was that it hurt teams because they were locked into those deals.”

Count the Lions as one of those teams. And they could find themselves in similar situations with Stafford and Suh in the coming years.

“The system is a lot better now and makes a lot more sense,” Mayhew said. “The money should go to the veterans and that’s how the system is set up now. I like the way it is now.”

The Lions haven’t drafted as low as they are this year (23rd) since taking Robert Porcher with the 26th pick in the 1992 draft.


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Posted in Lions Insider Tim Twentyman | 5 Comments »


5 Responses to “Lions starting to feel the pain of the old rookie salary structure”

  1. By Don on Feb 25, 2012 | Reply

    I like the way that it is Now with this new setup.
    Where the veterans get to get paid instead of rookies that should have to prove themselves. Allthough, Most of our rookies did a great job of proving thierselves. It has been a bumber in a few instances of injuries and I feel bad for the guy’s that have had that happen in thier career’s. But, that is the “bumb’s in the road ” Toward the end result. In as to weather or not thier job career will continue as an NFL player or thier Lives go into another direction.
    I just hope that OUR Veterans will give this Team time to catch up to the whole new process. Now that we have the players that we want and need I hope that they give us the time to catch up with the type of saleries that they deserve. I believe that Our players realize what they have here with this TEAM. And that is that this TEAM is young, Talented and able to Make history here with this team Like they could with NO other TEAM.
    And with that alone should let them relize that it should be a lot of winning and a lot of Hall of fame records, Pro Bowls, and of coarse the chance at a superbowl with a team that None has been able to do up until now!
    All of the players on this team could accomplish that if they stick together and make it happen.
    For thier sakes and for our sakes “The Fans” I hope they this TEAM works it ALL out. Superbowl! Superbowl! Superbowl! Superbowl! Superbowl! Superbowl!
    GO LIONS! GO! GO! GO!

  2. By Drew on Feb 25, 2012 | Reply

    The system does make a lot more sense when you consider how many players perform amazing at the college level, get drafted early, collect the millions and decide they’re content with their college level performance. Now the young players actually have to earn their paycheck if they want up on the high horse. Sure there are a few guys throughout NFL history who were drafted quick and deserved every penny of their contract but those are few and far between, maybe 2 players per draft at the very most. This system allows the guys who have broken their tails performing for a team day in and day out for a few years to get what they deserve versus cutting their checks short to pick up a new QB who will fail to enhance their team, luckily, Stafford is one of the chosen few who actually does enhance this team, along with Megatron, Suh, Young, Best, Delmas and all the others, that’s what makes this such a difficult situation. I just hope that all of these guys are team oriented enough to except maybe sacrificing a few million to keep the new acquisitions on board. I’m convinced if we took our exact same package this year and put it into next year with a few choice draft picks as insurance, we’ll be in the championship without question……..if everyone stays healthy of course.

  3. By Danny Skellett on Feb 25, 2012 | Reply

    Our Veterans do deserve more attention than rookies. The Lions Veterans get a fair share, even though their play is not veteran like. Out of position, poor or no tackling, all deserving of big bucks? We need to pay Calvin his $22 mil cap. Do today what you can do tomorrow. If our veterans want to stay then they need to honor our cap, not hurt the cause. We need to draft players with a total game.

  4. By Mike O Neil on Feb 26, 2012 | Reply

    My greatest fear when the Leo’s were drafting with those high 1st round picks was that 3 players were getting massive million dollar contracts sucking up the majority of the cap money. Yes absolutely Suh, Stafford and Johnson are the type of players you build a franchise around. But unfortunately when you have large chunks of your cap money tied up in 3 players it’s going to be a trend and even harder to field a solid all around team for any length of time.There will always be a weakness or holes popping up on this team. Plug one hole while another leak sprouts. We’ll see guys like Cliff Avril get drafted, learn to play football here and then when their contract is up it’ll be time to move on to another team. Because the Lion’s simply won’t be able to pay them.

  5. By redwingliger on Feb 27, 2012 | Reply

    What is really unfortunate is Roger Goodell’s ignorance with regard to how the new bargaining agreement will affect teams like the Lions and other teams that have drafted high in the last few years. I would like him to have the foresight to recognize when a team has been handicapped by the exorbitant contracts that recent NFL (and all major sports athletes for that matter) players have signed and adjust the cap so they can remain competitive. After all the whole idea of a salary cap is to level the playing field and ensure that all teams have an equal opportunity to compete in the NFL. Teams like the Lions, Rams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Redskins etc. are really going to be penalized for drafting higher, and therefore having to pay extremely exorbitant contracts to the players in order to sign them. The Lions are a prime example of how having to offer exorbitant contracts to players just to sign them to an NFL contract. It sickens me to see the amount of greed that all professional athletes have, and how ridiculous the idiotic owners are for creating these asinine salaries. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not necessarily chastising today’s athletes for having the mindset that they do. But I find it a little offensive that today’s athletes who (for the most part) have never put in a single 40 hour work week, expect to be paid this amount of money for playing their favorite sport. Of course I am 51 years old and have a very vivid memory of how athletes (who were centered superstars at their craft and in their prime) had to supplement their athletic income with jobs during the off-season. Personally I can’t see any athlete making in excess of $100,000 per year, but that is my opinion and I’m sure many people don’t agree with it.

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