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Checkdowns, Rants: Rookie Wage Scale

Posted by Chase Stuart on January 7, 2011

Jason Lisk (f/k/a JKL of the PFR Blog) continues to kill it over at the Big Lead. You can read all of Jason's work here, and I highly advise you to do so. His latest piece? A large rant against the idea of a rookie wage scale in the NFL. Jason, Doug and I are in the tiny minority of NFL fans who don't think rookies are overpaid, even the most highly drafted ones. My favorite piece in his article today? A link to a sportswriter complaining in April that Ndamukong Suh was going to recieve similar guaranteed money to Albert Haynesworth. What an injustice!

We've discussed this on the PFR blog before. In February 2009, Jason wrote that some proof that first round picks, as a group, are not overpaid. In May 2008, I came up with a modern Draft Pick Value Chart, which confirmed my believe that the top rookies are not overpaid. Brian Burke wrote an insightful article on how NFL players are gladiators, not bricklayers, and I believe Burke is with the PFR Crew w/r/t rookie salaries.

And then, today, I got bored and did a tongue-in-cheek rant over at the Footballguys message boards. You can read it and follow the anticipated ridiculous comments here, but I'll re-post it as well below:

How in the world can it be justified to pay Jim Harbaugh 7 or 8 million dollars are you? Are you kidding me? Putting aside that, ya know, that's more money than most people will make in their entire lives, what has Harbaugh done to deserve it? He did a good job coaching in a decent conference in college? He never even won his conference! Yet all of the sudden he's somehow worthy of one of the richest contracts in NFL history?

Mike Tomlin has won a Super Bowl and has Pittsburgh as an annual contender, and he's making 4.8 million per year. Jeff Fisher, one of the most respected coaches in the league, is making just shy of 6 million per year. Tom Coughlin, after he won the freakin Super Bowl, is making just over 5 mill per year. How in the world can you justify paying Jim Harbaugh more than all of them? More than Bill Belichick, who's making 7.5 per year?

It's just absurd. Harbaugh's a college guy who hasn't proven a single thing in the NFL. Why not make him PROVE his worth first, then pay him? Wouldn't a 3-year, 6 million dollar deal still put him in the top .0001% of rich people and not cripple the franchise if he's a bust? If Harbaugh's actually a good NFL coach, surely his next contract would be in the 6-7 million dollar a year range. So if he's a good coach, he'll make a ton of money. If he's a bad coach, he'll still make good money but not crazy money. Why won't Roger Goodell step in and do something about this? As an average NFL fan, I have to say it turns me off to the whole sport to see an unproven whippersnapper like Harbaugh come in and make more money than my family will make for generations. For coaching freakin' football. Make him prove it, then pay him. Isn't that how every other industry in the world works?

Please, NFL and Goodell, do something.