The NFL can’t win for losing.

Pity the poor oligarchs.  They’ve got a free developmental league in college football.  They got the player’s union to agree to a rookie salary cap so that nobody gets a really big deal until he reaches his second contract.

And now the law of unintended consequences has struck, much to their dismay.  (h/t Mandel)

That leads players—and the agents and buddies whispering into their ears—to the following thought: Get into the NFL as soon as possible to get that free agency clock started and get to that big money.

The result is that you’re getting more and more players leaving school early, many of whom aren’t ready. “The college programs are having a big problem,” said one prominent NFC general manager who spends a lot of time on the road scouting. “That means the NFL has a big problem. I can only speak for me, but I want guys who have skins on the wall. A lot of these guys don’t have them, and you’re having to project even more.”

Quick – to the waaambulance!

There’s a suggestion that more education about life in the NFL is on its way to college players, but that ain’t gonna fly because who wants to knock the very thing that tempts so much talent into playing college ball in the first place?

Nah, my money’s on a more elegant, yet simple solution – the end of underclassmen being eligible for the NFL draft.  Blame it on Obama and concussions, or something.  Do it for the kids is always a popular working thesis. Pay no attention to that bank account behind the curtain.

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26 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

26 responses to “The NFL can’t win for losing.

  1. Go Dawgs!

    The problem of more inexperienced talent hitting NFL rosters is only compounded by the reduced practice time that the players won in the last CBA.

  2. sUGArdaddy

    I’d be all for underclassmen not being eligible or at least a rule that you have to play 3 years. The guys leaving after redshirt sophomore seasons is bad for all. I think we saw in Denver that Knowshon could have used another year. Vick sat on the sidelines instead of getting better at reads playing games. Johnny Football is a special talent, but he could use some more practice in the college game not making stupid decisions. He’ll be thrown to the wolves or hold a clipboard next year.

    It depends on the position, of course, but more college ball is almost always better unless you’re a running back w/ a lot of carries already under your belt.

    It would change recruiting, that’s for sure. Kids would be more likely to stay closer to home (good for Georgia). That’s the problem with College Basketball. The talented guys don’t mind leaving state because they’re only going to be away for 1 year. If I know coming out of the gate that I’ve got 4 years at a college, momma is probably going to want to come see me play. Moreover, I want to go to a great college environment.

    • Connor

      If UGA decided to not play Knowshon Moreno for a year how should that impact how soon he can go to the NFL? He was at UGA for 3 years. If the NFL doesn’t think these kids are ready they can just not draft them, but come April half the 1st round will be underclassmen. The NFL, like the NBA, just wants someone to protect it from itself.

    • Bulldawg165

      I’d rather hold a clipboard on the sidelines for a season and make a million bucks for it than get on the field for no pay. If someone can jump to the nfl and take their lumps then that’s a better strategy, money-wise, than staying in college an extra year to better prepare. It’s hard to replace that extra year of lost wages for players who stay in college.

      The risk is that “taking your lumps” is perpetual and you never break through because you didn’t build your foundation up enough

      • sUGArdaddy

        I don’t disagree with both of those, I just think both games would be served well by a 4 year or ‘play 3 year rule.’ We’d have better players in college and the NFL would get more experienced players.

        I don’t blame a kid for jumping early, but I think the current atmosphere lends itself to a lot of guys leaving when they shouldn’t and it never pans out. Marlon Brown is an excellent example. An extra year of college did him a world of good and he had an excellent rookie year. Had he left as a junior, I can see him not making a team and working in Canada now.

        • Connor

          Sure, college football (from the perspective of coaches and fans) and the NFL would be better off. Student athletes would not. They may not all deserve a million dollars for playing college football, but they sure has hell don’t deserve Less opportunity than they have now.

        • Bulldawg165

          The only difference between a “play 3 years” rule and what we have now is that it cuts coaches some slack for mistakenly redshirtting an obviously very talented player. Plus it’s only going to make a difference in a very small number of cases I would imagine.

    • Dawg with no fleas

      Vick played in 8 games as a rookie and started 2. Dan Reeves had a west coast offense that required time for Vick to learn.

  3. Chuck

    Just a day or so ago Colin Cowherd was explaining why it is better to stay in college if you play football (basketball=leave if you can), but the argument was scattered and a little bit circular. It had two main prongs:
    1) College football was more like the NFL than college basketball was like the NBA. NBA has international players, and especially if you are a ‘big’, you aren’t going to be challenged and get better playing in college. But in football, especially if you are SEC/Pac-10 player you are going to be challenged and get better.
    2) Even if you make it as a pro, football players need a degree and a fallback position more than basketball players because their careers are shorter and the pay is less.

    I dunno, he could have been reading from a memo passed to him from the WWL who probably got it from the NFL….

  4. 81Dog

    this is really stupid on the part of the oligarchs. This has been happening in the NBA for the last 15 years: go to the pros ASAP, even if you aren’t really ready, so you can cash in sooner on your SECOND contract. As Connor says, if you’re an NFL team, you don’t have to draft a guy who you don’t think is ready. If you’re a college player with a big rep, or a “friendly agent” talking in your ear assuring you there’s no way you can avoid being the next Adrian Peterson or JJ Watt or Deion Sanders, it could be a problem.

    it sure worked great for guys like Dion Glover in basketball. What could possibly go wrong for those kind of guys in football?

    the college game serves a purpose for a lot of players. It lets guys get known, it lets them establish reputations, it lets them learn how to win. Would Michael Jordan have been sought after by Nike if he’d gone straight to the NBA from HS? Would he have even been considered? Now middle school kids and their “advisors” see shoe deals in the stars before any of them even score a varsity HS bucket.

    There’s just too much money floating around in the NBA and college games; players want a piece of it, and they want as much and as soon as they can get it. While that is going to lead to some bad decisions by some kids, and some NBA GMs, you can’t blame the kids for wanting a spot at the pay window. It’s what weasels like Mike Adams, et al. have been doing for years.

    • Greg

      To your Michael Jordan point, Kobe Bryant went straight to the NBA from high school and it worked out just fine for him not playing a year at Duke, UNC or whoever. Yes, many kids make the wrong decision, but that should not prevent players from being able to decide.

      College football will make it 2 years before it goes back to 4. There are tennis players and golfers going pro as teenagers and no one is jumping up and down about that…because those decisions don’t conflict with their own wants as fans of the college game. A large majority of elite college basketball and football players would never get into these universities or stay eligible without a system that continues to pass them along because we want to be entertained(and win).

      College basketball is diluted without elite players…even the guys who get drafted high haven’t come close to reaching their potential in one year of college. College football will continue going in the same direction with players leaving earlier and being drafted based on potential. Most guys are willing to take that chance ASAP because many of them have no business being on a college campus to begin with.

      • 81Dog

        yeah, Kobe EVENTUALLY got his money, but he got drafted mid to late first round by Charlotte (bleah) and scooped up by the Lakers in a trade. He didn’t play much, if at all, as a rookie, didnt light the world on fire his second year, either. He certainly didn’t sign a huge shoe deal before he ever played an NBA minute, like Jordan, who you may recall “built his brand” as a winner at UNC and the US Olympic team.

        I’m not saying Kobe was wrong, or that any kid is wrong for taking the money. But, there were advantages to players, both from a skill and marketing standpoint, to playing 3 or 4 years in school. There was also a benefit to NBA vets: fewer roster spots got used on “future prospects we have to draft but cant use for at least two years.”

        It kind of is what it is. I don’t blame the players for following the money; everyone else in this deal is doing the same thing, whether it’s tv people, shoe companies, college ADs or NBA GMs.

  5. Cousin Eddie

    I might be remembering wrong, my wife says I do it all the time, but can’t a college basketball player enter the draft and return to college as long as they do not hire an agent? Why can’t the college football players do this also? This would allow someone to test the waters and still return. When the NFL team calls in the 7th round and kid thought he was going in the 3rd he could just say no thanks get someone else, or even better if the kid goes undrafted. Hoping the kid wouldn’t sign a contract with an agent might be hopeful but with proper management this could be possible and allow a kid more than cut or dry options. It is, after all, about the kids, right?

    • Silver Creek Doug

      They can, but the deadline to stay in/pull out of the draft is before the actual draft itself, so it’s pretty pointless if you ask me.

      • Cousin Eddie

        thanks for the clarification. I don’t follow bb, but didn’t know there was a deadline.

      • I don’t think that’s quite correct. I remember reading a couple of years ago that the timing issue is related to credit hours……..you have to have completed a certain number of credit hours in the prior school period to maintain eligibility (I can’t remember the exact number of hours).

        For basketball players, the draft is in June, and they would have had to be in school through the spring anyway due to the basketball season itself. So as long as they passed in the spring term, and haven’t signed with an agent, they can come back and play the following year.

        The problem for football players is the timing of the NFL draft, which is usually in early May. Football players who have declared for the draft always withdraw from school and don’t attend in the spring, so they can focus 100% of their efforts on preparing for the draft. By the time they find out that they got a terrible draft spot – or didn’t get drafted at all – it’s not possible to re-enroll and complete the required hours to be eligible in the fall.

        But if a football player were to remain in school through the draft process in the spring, and not sign with an agent, they technically could come back to the school just like basketball players. But that’s a tough decision to make for a football player to stay in school instead of focusing on the draft — You’re almost guaranteeing that you won’t be drafted high. If I’m an NFL GM, why do I want to risk spending anything higher than a 4th or 5th round pick on a guy that I know may decide to go back to school, then I’ve totally wasted my pick? So if a player decided to try staying in school to keep his options open, he’s pretty much deciding to come back the next year anyway.

        I tried to find the article that described all this but I can’t find it. I’m pretty sure what I’ve described is accurate though, unless the rules have been changed since that article came out.

        • Silver Creek Doug

          The 2013 NBA draft was held on June 27. The NCAA set a deadline to withdraw from that draft of April 16. The NBA has zero to do with that deadline. Coaches wanted it because they hated going into the summer not knowing who was coming back to school.

  6. I Wanna Red Cup

    Every one is a capitalist except when it comes to CFB. If a guy is good enough to go pro at age 18 he should be able to just like a good piano player or ice skater, etc. If underclassmen are not good enough then NFL should not draft them. If someone can drop out of college and start microsoft or facebook then he should be able to play a sport- if good enough. The problem is the “advisors” who have their head up their asses and only want to live off the athlete.

  7. Mayor of Dawgtown

    FWIT, I think you are absolutely right about the solution, Senator. The powers that be undoubtedly will try to eliminate underclassmen declaring for the draft. That is the obvious solution. Whether that will work is another question, however. I see litigation in the future if the early out gets eliminated.

  8. sniffer

    The plantation is not secure! Put up a fence!

  9. Will Trane

    Problem is not owners or CFB. Or agents. It is the player’s union…”start the free agency clock and get started on your second contract”. All time. If it is about opportunity why penalize the player going in. Let him get his contract, let the owners face the risk of lost money and time. No the union is hurting CF>

  10. Sock Monkey

    Increase the number of years required to get the second contract by three years. Allow up to three years of college ball to count in the pros. If they come out earlier, they get paid but don’t hit the second contract any earlier.

    • 81Dog

      this is actually a pretty clever idea. I have no idea how it fits in with labor law (not my area), but my dim impression of labor stuff is a lot of things can be collectively bargained. It would certainly allow the focus to be on who’s ready to play NOW, as opposed to “who might be ready in two years,” or who do have to try to extend now that he’s ALMOST ready to play and we dont want to lose him in free agency.