Chris Johnson’s Contract Bad for Ravens, NFL, and Fans
On Thursday, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson’s training camp holdout came to an end, as he was rewarded with a four-year, $53.5M contract with $30M guaranteed. The former East Carolina Pirate, 26, leads the NFL in rushing yards since coming into the league in 2008.
The impact of Johnson’s new contract will be felt by the Ravens in much more significant ways than just the fact that they now have to see him on the field in Nashville on September 18. Ozzie Newsome and company will definitely have Johnson’s deal in mind this offseason when negations start for Ray Rice.
There is no arguing that CJ is one of the top talents in the NFL. He should be compensated just as anyone should for a dominating effort at his job. However, the landscape of NFL salaries is out of control and this just seems to be another step in the wrong direction.
With more money for veterans being made available with the introduction of the Rookie Wage Scale, across the board, more NFL franchises will be paying their top talents as opposed to overhyped rookie draft picks.
Notable contracts given this pre-season:
- Chris Johnson- 4-yr $53.5M with $30 M guaranteed
- Larry Fitzgerald- 8- yr $120 M with $50 M guaranteed
- Lamar Woodley- 6- yr $61.5 M with $35 M guaranteed
- Joe Thomas- 7- yr $84 M with $44 M guaranteed
- Michael Vick- 5- yr $80 M with $40 M guaranteed *
*realistic terms of the new contract
Each of these players are elite in their position but an argument can be made that they aren’t the overall best at what they do, which creates even more opportunities for more (lesser) players to be compensated amongst these going rates.
This is a nightmare for teams with some top level drafted players who happen to be in their “contract year”.
***(Cough) (Cough) Ravens (Cough)**
The Ravens’ ownership and Ozzie Newsome have to be losing sleep right now seeing the way the market value has been dictated for some of these players. Ozzie is already struggling to work out a deal to make Haloti Ngata a “Raven for life” but he’ll have double the work next year as he negotiates with both Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.
The salary cap is a firm $120.375 . Ravens fans were already harshly reminded of the effects of the salary cap with the cuts of beloved players such as Todd Heap and Derrick Mason last month. With a team struggling to be under the cap and also adding another big deal like Ngata’s, we may have just gotten a small preview of what next season is going to look like.
The market for many players whether salary or trade value is typically dictated at the hands of a few desperate owners (ie: Dan Snyder, Jerry Jones and Al Davis). Their stupidity has created an “idiot tax” which will be paid by other franchises…and which is then passed onto the fans.
Most of you know it’s almost unbearable financially to attend an NFL game. Regardless of the economy, the Ravens are going to fill up 60,000+ seats each home game and that won’t change. No evidence exists to convince the Ravens that they need to stop raising prices because the threat of a blackout hasn’t existed with this franchise.
Personally the seats I sit in have DOUBLED in price. The trend I’ve noticed is a team will increase prices every other year. Even in a good economy these prices are unbearable and there isn’t an end in sight.
The NFL product will take a hit itself as well. Fans will pay more money to see overpaid players along with a bunch of minimum salary teammates. Technology and social media (Twitter, etc.) has given athletes more exposure than ever and allows them to personally market themselves in a way never before seen. More teams will now be paying into the “hype factor” just because a player can now communicate with his fans, which drives up popularity, which in turn drives up their price tag (see Chad Ochocinco’s career.
Looking at their output versus their salaries, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have been steals for the Ravens but their time has come to be rewarded for their contributions. With an inflated “market value” I’m scared to see what it’ll actually be, I can promise you that it’ll be more than it should.
This isn’t the player’s fault; it’s the owners who are stupid enough to give into it.
We Ravens fans have to brace for the worst because – while in this quarterback-driven league Flacco is likely safe in purple – there is a good chance you may not see Rice after this season. Time will tell if that actually happens or not but if it does, you can thank the Dan Snyders, Jerry Joneses and Al Davises of the NFL for putting the league in the state that it is.