Much Ado About Rookie Contracts

The Jacksonville Jaguars currently have five of their six draft picks under contract. All that is left is the 10th overall selection, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu.  The hand-wringing and panicking is going to begin as we approach closer and closer to training camp to get him in camp on time.

It is very interesting the dynamic between the public/fan opinion during this time of the year.

Generally the player is villainized during the contract negotiation process by the fans of the team he is negotiating with. Some fans will go with battle cries of "GREEDY!' and others will contend that if the player really cared about football or the team, he'd just tell his agent to sign the contract already so he can get in on time.

It's not even close to that simple.

The most interesting part to me however, is how the player always winds up as the bad guy.  What some don't seem to understand, or better yet want to understand, is that teams are just as guilty as what some fans accuse the player of.

Why is it just the player who's being the greedy one?

Isn't the team being stingy by not offering a player a market contract?

Often you'll hear fans chastise the player for holding out for that "extra million" and try to make it seem like the player is being greedy. On the other hand, isn't the organization being just as greedy for holding out for that million dollars less? Why do they seemingly get a pass?

The teams get a pass because we're fans of teams, not players. We relate to the team. We feel as if we are part of the team and the team is part of us. Some take offense to a player putting out the notion that what we're offering isn't good enough. We also have to remember that to fans, football is a game. It's entertainment and it's fun. To the players and teams however, it's a business. It's a business like no other and is so out of the realm of the norm in the general business sense that most people will never fully understand it.

Say what you will about the market and how ridiculous it's gotten that each season a rookie becomes the highest paid player at their respective position, but that's the game right now. Until that changes, getting upset about it and complaining what market value really is, is much ado about nothing.  It's not all necessarily the agent's faults, either. They're doing a job as well. You have to remember, if these agents don't get a player as much as they can, it hurts their business the following years attempting to get more clients. Taking a little less here and there to get a player into camp can be a good thing at times, but no one wants to be "that guy" who has the stigma for consistently taking under market value, because simply who wants to sign with an agent who makes you less money?

Think of it this way:

Say the agent is a person holding a garage sale. Say the player, Tyson Alualu, is a really nice chair.  The team is a frequent garage sale goer, and is good at wheeling and dealing.  The team really wants this chair, but is only going to pay a certain price for it.  The agent knows this chair is valuable and has a price in his head of what he wants and what is acceptable to take.  The issue is finding that happy medium between what the team is willing to pay for that nice chair and what the agent is willing to take for it.

Stupid analogy I know, but it's exceedingly difficult to try to break these things down into simple business terms, because it's a complicated business. It's a type business that the vast majority of people never see in their lifetime. I tweeted a bit this morning questioning why it was always the player seen as the bad guy, and I of course got the standard "maybe teachers should start holding out" responses. As I said, it's a complicated business and it doesn't relate to the real world as we all know. I think it's safe to say everyone thinks teachers, etc. should all be better compensated and all of that, but what does bringing that up accomplish in this regard? Nothing, it's just a way for some fans to rationalize their anger and upset state.

I feel like I'm rambling here, but this is the point: Don't get mad at Tyson Alualu if he misses some days of camp. In the grand scheme of things it's not important. He's trying to get the most he can while the team is trying to get him as cheap as they can. Tyson I'm sure wants to be in camp on time, but he can't just take less to do so. It's bad business. In a game like the NFL where the average life span is less than the required time to qualify for a pension, players need to get as much as they can.  Not to mention with potential labor unrest on the horizon.

It's all business. It's nothing to get upset about.

At the end of the day, Tyson should get around $18-$20 million guaranteed no matter if he signs early or late. It all just depends how business goes.

It's a big game. As Omar Little said, "I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It's all in the game though, right?"

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