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Forget guaranteed contracts; tie the compensation of star players to cap percentages

The periodic push for fully guaranteed contracts misses the point. The league’s best players don’t need fully-guaranteed deals; they’ll get their money.

The stars should be getting paid a percentage of the salary cap.

I’ve been making that point for years, both here and in Playmakers.

This year’s explosion to $255.4 million per team underscores that reality. While some players (like Kirk Cousins) will benefit by hitting the open market at a time when there has been more money than ever, players who have existing contracts will see the relative value of their deals diminish, as the money keeps going up.

Some players (including, at one point, Cousins) have tried to get contracts based on a cap percentage. The league has resisted in collusive fashion under the guise of the Management Council, which has (as we’ve heard) pushed teams to not do it — even if the CBA allows it.

As to those players who deserve new deals, we don’t need to name names. (I will, later.) Plenty of players will instantly become noticeably underpaid with a cap in excess of $250 million.

Those players can ask their current teams nicely for an adjustment. If they don’t get it, they can explore other options. If they had compensation packages tied to a percentage of the cap, they wouldn’t have to.

Who will be the first to make it happen? I thought it would be Joe Burrow. It should start with Patrick Mahomes.

The next great quarterback who might be able to pull it off is Brock Purdy, followed by C.J. Stroud. Followed by Caleb Williams.

At some point, someone needs to take a stand and demand an inherently fair and appropriate metric for payment. Forget about hard dollars. Embrace cap percentage.