How NFL Players Can Start Getting 100% Guaranteed Contracts

NFL Contracts vs. Other Sports

With the NBA free agent signing in full swing other, NFL players are starting get “guaranteed” money envy. NFL players are questioning why their contracts are not fully guaranteed like NBA and MLB players. The most recent NFL player to speak out about it came at the ESPYs from none other than Richard Sherman. Sherman suggested a player strike to get what they want.

“Oh, 100 percent,” Sherman said. “If we want as the NFL, as a union, to get anything done, players have to be willing to strike. That’s the thing that guys need to 100% realize.”

“You’re going to have to miss games, you’re going to have to lose some money if you’re willing to make the point, because that’s how MLB and NBA got it done. They missed games, they struck, they flexed every bit of power they had, and it was awesome. It worked out for them.”

It’s hard to blame this line of thinking when you consider there are now 22 players in the NBA and  with guaranteed contracts worth over $100M. How does that compare to the NFL?


Why NFL Contracts Are Not Fully Guaranteed

It’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why NFL owners are not keen on paying $100M+ contracts and fully guaranteeing them. The average playing career for an NFL players is 3.5 years, the average MLB career is 5.6 years, the average NBA career is 4.8 years, and the average NHL career is 5.5 years. So what do athletes, with the same shelf life as a hamster, have to do get the guaranteed money?  It’s simple.

The Solution

Before I get into my solution, I need to make note of one thing in the NFL. Deals given to all 1st round draft picks carry millions each year in guaranteed pay. So, for the first 20 something players who are picked, every penny of the 4 year contract is fully guaranteed at signing. Keep in mind this far from $100M+ money though.

So here is the solution to NFL player frustrations. No, it’s not going on strike and throwing away the minimal years you actually have in the sport. Not to mention, selfishly ruining fantasy football leagues for millions of people, specifically me.

The simple solution is for players to sign smaller contracts. Right now, it makes no sense for players to sign contracts beyond 3 years. Think about it, most guarantees we see in the NFL are for the first 2-3 years, then in the back end of the contract the team has all the control. They can push the player to take less money or flat out toss the player to the curb. So in theory the early parts of player contracts are the most lucrative for the players, so why are they signing long term anyway?

So, if the NFL were to consider adopting fully-guaranteed contracts, players would have to be willing to think short term investment. Actually, this would be best cast scenario for players. Not only would players be getting the guaranteed money they seek, but also have career control. They could hit the free agent market faster. If teams wanted to keep high performing players they would have to pay them for another 2-3 years with guaranteed money.

Could It Happen?

Would the NFL owners ever push for this? Probably not! Why would they? Players know it. Sherman said it himself.

Sherman even though his original idea of striking sucked, he was actually on to something with his second comment.

“NBA players like KD and LeBron are sitting there taking two-year deals like it’s nothing,” “They figure, I’ll take a two-year deal because I’m going to wait for the salary cap to increase and get another bite at the apple.’ In our sport, they won’t do it.”

That’s why its up to the up and coming star players to start thinking this way when negotiating. That means you Jimmy Garoppolo, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.