Now that the Titans have decided to terminate Vince Young – his contract, not him – I thought I would look at what Young was paid and what the Titans saved by releasing him. Although the contract is not of JaMarcusesque proportions, it is another example of the exorbitant cost of players at the top of the Draft, where the risk usually greatly outweighs the reward. (That cost may well be changing with implementation of a rookie scale).
Young was the third pick of the 2006 Draft, behind Mario Williams and Reggie Bush. We had the fifth pick at the Packers and I remember it well. Mario Williams came to terms with the Texans the night before the Draft, leaving the Saints on the clock with the next choice.
Reggie Bush desperately did not want to go to New Orleans, as his agent was calling us and every other team begging for a trade-up, even though Saints owner Tom Benson had already proclaimed Bush as the pick.
The Titans took Young next. I always wondered what would have happened had Young still been sitting there at the fifth pick. We were set on taking AJ Hawk and had drafted Aaron Rodgers the year before, but Ted Thompson certainly liked Young. Ted rarely showed emotion talking about a player (or anything else) but was animated upon returning from Young’s pro day at Texas.
Let’s look at what the Titans have paid out to Young:
Young received a minimum salary of $275,000 along with a $2.64 million signing bonus, for a total of $2.915 million.
Young received a $12.3 million option bonus along with a $840,000 salary for a total of $13.14 million.
Young received a $5.72 million one-time incentive bonus along with a $1.5 million salary, for a total of $7.22 million.
Young received a $2.17 million salary.
Young received a $4.25 million roster bonus along with a $7.5 million salary, for a total of $11.75 million.
Thus, the total payout to Young for his five-year tenure with the Titans is $37.2 million. The number is similar to the $39 million paid out to JaMarcus Russell from the Raiders although Young had significantly more production in his five years that Russell in his three years.
Young will not receive the last year of the deal, a $4.25 million roster bonus and a $8.5 million salary, saving the Titans $12.75 million.
The number, however, is significant, especially for a franchise that has to start over at the position. Young leaves the Titans with unfulfilled promise and $37 million in his pocket.
EF Hutton of NFL owners
Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson is the “EF Hutton” of NFL owners. When he speaks, people listen. At NFL meetings, I always was impressed with his dignified and succinct manner of addressing people and that he treated less important people – like me – in the same way he treated his fellow owners (sometimes better).
Richardson’s Panthers used this unique year in the NFL as a “get-back” year, reeling in costs, servicing debt and preparing for the new system, whenever that may be. In 2009, the Cap spending floor was $108 million. This year, the Panthers spending was south of $90 million, and that includes the $12.65 million the team paid to Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme, the contract that keeps on giving a year later.
Richardson was quite candid this week about his team and the league position on the CBA. He explained that he didn’t fire John Fox and his coaching staff prior to 2010 as it would have cost $11.4 million in remaining salary, in addition to the cost of paying a new staff. He decided to at least get value for that $11.4 million.
Richardson is leading a faction of owners that are determined to forge a new economic system with the players. And his voice will be heard, both by his fellow owners and the players, of which he was once one.
Richardson’s words are always interesting and representative of the owners’ position. It would serve him well, though, to build a relationship with NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith as he did with Gene Upshaw. Perhaps then there can be progress.
Perhaps the linemen should pay
It has become tradition in the NFL for the running back who wins the rushing title to bestow gifts to his offensive linemen who paved the way for that glory. We’ve heard about Rolex watches, Cadillac Escalades, plasma televisions, etc. as lavish forms of gratitude from superstar running backs to their unknown linemen huffing away on their behalf.
Well, this year brings a different kind of case based on the economics. The NFL’s rushing leader is the Texans’ Arian Foster, making second year minimum salary of $390,000 with no signing bonus. Here is what his starting offensive linemen made in signing bonus/guarantee alone in their most recent contract:
LT Duane Brown $6.2 million
LG Wade Smith $6.25 million
C Chris Meyers $3 million
RG Antoine Caldwell $804,250
RT Eric Winston $10 million
Based on the above, it does not seem appropriate that Foster spend too much on these guys. Perhaps a nice dinner – not Dez Bryant-style -- with the richer lineman (Caldwell can sit that out) chipping in.
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