Going over to the GM’s side of the deal, he’s mainly interested in making sure the new contract doesn’t kill the cap or break the bank. Some players could be making double digit millions in actual money, but only have a fraction of that count against the cap because of various rules and details in the contract. With contracts becoming so lucrative and descriptive nowadays, it’s getting harder for the public to see how much money players are actually making and how much it’s actually costing the franchise. Various loopholes in contract lingo allow GMs to save money by doing a number of things in order to keep cap room for other players. It’s all about the numbers for the GMs, and it’s all about the money for the players.
When you mix the players’ agents into these deals, it gets even more complicated. They’re trying to represent their clients and get them the best deals possible, while also making a ton of money themselves. And with agents having multiple clients in the same sport, players are smart enough to realize that if an agent can get one guy a huge deal, the other player “deserves” an equally big contract, or maybe even something more. And when players continuously break the records for biggest contracts, it makes the players with huge egos believe that they deserve something better, something bigger, and therefore seek a new huge contract. With players constantly comparing themselves to others and ranking each other, it creates a never ending cycle of new ridiculous contracts that make the players millionaires in a very short period of time.
And then come the details in how the money is spread out over the contract. It’s no secret that most NFL players only last a few seasons in the league, and they never know when they’re going to be out of a job and back on the streets. Some of these players don’t have in mind what they want to do after football and are basically in limbo after they’re forced to retire because of injury or have no offers from teams in the league when they become free agents. So the players are looking for a front loaded contract, where the majority of the money comes in the beginning of the deal. The problem with this is twofold.
First, the GMs don’t like these deals as much because it hurts them early and puts them in a tighter situation financially for the rest of the team. They’d rather have it spread out and put the contract in a back loaded or ascending format where the player will make more money as the contract progresses. This allows the player to have to “earn” the bigger salaries instead of just getting it right off the bat. Second, the “content” factor comes back into play. For example, if a player signs a five year contract that’s front loaded, he’ll make most of the money in the first couple of years. Once the player gets in the fourth and fifth years, he might have the tendency to slack off a little and see a decrease in production because he’s already got his big money. Or, which is arguably just as bad or worse, he will refuse to play for the lesser terms of the contract and demand a new contract where he’s getting a raise. If the GM gives in, this defeats the purpose of the contract that was originally signed because it allows the player to collect his big salary early and then just restructure when the pay isn’t as high. Both players and GMs can play the restructure card, and it isn’t always pretty.
Players who want a restructured contact are basically always looking for a raise because, like I mentioned before, they enjoyed the big money in the first part of their contract, but naturally dislike the second half of it because they’re getting less money. This can put GMs in a bad situation, and depending on the team’s standing in the league and financial status, it could hurt their ability to keep the player. This situation puts the player in control and lets him pull the strings. The flip side is also possible. When a contract is in the ascending or back loaded format, the GM is likely to ask the player to renegotiate his deal so that he can stay on the team. Winning teams are more likely to do this because the players will want to have more loyalty to a team that has a shot at a championship (and believe me, every player ultimately wants to win a championship at some point). So the GM can pull the strings here and basically force the player to take a pay cut and restructure his contract so that the team has more money elsewhere to sign other players to better the franchise. Some players are actually willing to do this because they want to win, but others grumble about it if they’re more focused on the money.
Part 3 will be released tomorrow.