A question about football contracts

By | December 09, 2005

I am not a football expert, so maybe someone else can elighten me. I was just writing about Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejada, and I naturally got to thinking about Terrell Owens. Here’s my question (eventually):

Football contracts are unguaranteed, right? So if a player in the third year of a seven-year contract stops being productive, his team can release him, and he gets no more money. Is that right? And if so, here is the big question: why would any football player sign a long-term contract?

In baseball, it makes sense to sign a long-term contract, because then you are guaranteed money no matter how sharply or early your skills decline. But in football, it seems to be a very one-way contract: the player is locked in for the length of the contract, but the team is only locked in as long as they want to be. It seems like the better strategy for a player would be to sign a one-year contract every year. That way, the player would get what he is worth every season, and he would be no worse off when his skills diminished than he would be with a non-guaranteed contract.

So if T.O. wants to whine about being locked into a contract that doesn’t pay him enough (which is kind of a non-issue now that the Eagles are dumping him), shouldn’t he really be whining to the agent who got him the deal? Or am I missing something?

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