Really interesting nugget from ESPN’s Jamison Hensley: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will become the first NFL player to ever earn at least $70 million of a $100 million contract this year.
There have been 16 “$100 million” contracts in NFL history, and only Roethlisberger has earned at least 70% of one.
NFL contracts are non-guaranteed. In general, a team can cut a player at any moment, and all the years left on his contract are voided without him receiving what he’s owed.
Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick all signed $100 million contracts, but didn’t come even close to earning all of it.
Some of these “$100 million” contracts are fiction to begin with. Vick’s six-year, $100 million in 2011 only had $35.5 million in guarantees, and featured an odd clause that basically ensured that the last year of the deal would disappear.
But the main point is this: the NFL’s best players get screwed by non-guaranteed deals.
In the NBA and MLB, a player who is good enough to get a $100 million contract gets paid every dime. This comes back to bite teams if a player gets hurt (Amar’e Stoudemire) or never should have gotten a contract that big to begin with (Joe Johnson), but that’s the price of acquiring one of the ~20 best players in the sport.
In the NFL, teams hand out $100 million contracts with no intentions of actually paying all of that money.
Right now Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Mario Williams, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, and Larry Fitzgerald are on $100 million contracts. These are the best players in the league, but history tells us they won’t see a huge chunk of what they’re owed.
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