Every off-season, in every sport is about two things…..FREE AGENCY and THE DRAFT. Each year, owners look for that one missing “piece” that can change the entire make-up of their team. There are plenty of examples where the process has worked out great; 2003 Cleveland Cavaliers (LeBron James), 2005 Pittsburgh Penguins (Sidney Crosby), 2006 Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 2006 New Orleans Saints (Reggie Bush, and acquisition of Drew Brees), 2007 Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson) In each of these cases, the selections have worked out brilliantly for the organization. And even though LeBron left Cleveland after 7 seasons, he still brought MORE MONEY and MORE NOTARIETY to that team than any of its previous stars, in ALL OF THEIR SPORTS PUT TOGETHER.

But there are also two sides to every story, and there are 100 times more examples of big name, big money deals that have gone south. This fact is one of the primary reasons why the three ugliest words in sports these days are COLLECTIVE – BARGAINING – AGREEMENT. It’s almost like team owners woke up from a long nap in 2011 and realized that some of their investments aren’t yielding the expected return. My response is, “WHAT ELSE IS NEW?” For some crazy reason, sports have always been built on this concept. I have never understood why teams would blow their salary cap on a guy who has never played a single game at the professional level.

Example: While I think SAM BRADFORD is a good QB, no way was he worth the RICHEST CONTRACT IN NFL HISTORY at the time of signing. (6 years/$86 million)

For the same price, your team could sign Detroit QB Matt Stafford (6 years / $41.7 million) and Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson (6 years / $40.5 million), and still have $3.8 million left to spend. How would you prefer to spend $86 million?

IN MY COUCH EXPERT OPINION, athletes’ salaries should be based off PERFORMANCE. I really could care less about how much is promised in the initial contract, but if that player completely flops or falls to injury…PAYBACK IS A MUST! I understand that the owners have to take responsibility for making ignorant deals, like paying Alex Rodriguez $252 million, but there are also those greedy athletes out there who won’t sign for less, will leave a team hanging for more, and don’t deserve half of what they get. It has to stop somewhere. In 1986, Pop Singer Janet Jackson released her famous single, “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY”. This should be the theme for any team’s GM and owner. What have some of these guys done lately to show that they are EARNING these contracts? What has Sam Bradford done in 2011 to warrant a higher pay than Tom Brady and Michael Vick? I know we want to think better of him, but what if Peyton Manning knew he needed extensive neck surgery BEFORE he signed a $90 million dollar contract? What has Rashard Lewis EVER done in the NBA to deserve the 2nd highest salary for last season? If you are a New York Rangers fan, you know how Chris Drury’s play has declined ever since he signed his 2007 contract, making him the 6th highest paid player in the NHL. Even more evident is the New York Yankee’s $203 million dollar payroll. It’s not a knock on the Yankees. (If you have the money, use it) But when you don’t even make it to the ALCS, and teams like the St. Louis Cardinals ($105 million dollar payroll) and the Texas Rangers ($93 million dollar payroll) make it to the World Series…..PAYBACK IS A MUST. Somebody needs to be looking at their performance and giving some of those undeserved millions BACK.

I know if my opinion came into fruition, it would make the business side of sports very difficult. Mainly because a player’s value would change from year to year, and even game to game. In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Dallas Mavericks Forward Dirk Norwitzki played like someone worthy of an “A-Rod” contract. The previous two playoff runs…..not so much. Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz earned an 8-figure salary when they were facing American League teams in this year’s post-season. In the World Series, he should’ve been paid about $8.50/hour.

So, I guess my final COUCH EXPERT opinion is that in an economy where we see high unemployment, foreclosures, and financial bankruptcy……is there really anything, any athlete can do to deserve $20 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR?


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