Media and fans will marvel at some of the contracts signed by NFL players in the coming days and weeks, and inevitably there will be complaints that the players aren’t “worth” the money they’ll be getting.
First, anyone is “worth” whatever someone else will pay them.
Second, with the salary cap spiking for four straight years, individual contracts should be spiking, too.
Last year, one of the common offseason refrains at PFT was that the market for franchise quarterbacks hadn’t increased at the same rate as the salary cap. With total growth in the salary cap of at least 37.6 percent since 2013, the top of the quarterback market should have increased by that much, too.
In 2013, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers held the top spot with $22 million per year. If the quarterback market had grown as much as the cap has grown, someone already would be making more than $30 million per year. Instead, no one is even at $25 million.
The same dynamic applies at other positions. Retired Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, whose big-money deal was signed in 2012, hadn’t had his contract eclipsed until today, when Steelers receiver Antonio Brown signed an extension.
Although the total dollars are (mostly) being spent, the top of the market hasn’t been growing. The correction could be coming this year. When it happens, don’t wag a finger and call the players undeserving. Instead, point that finger at the owners and say, “It’s about time.”