Good news Saints fans, per Herbie Teope of NOLA.com Willie Snead has signed his tender as an exclusive-rights free agent and will earn a base salary of $615,000. Unfortunately for Snead he will be the NFL’s biggest bargain of 2017 and the Saints hold all the cards.
For those of you who know me you know that I am 100% player first. As a fan of the team, I couldn’t be happier that our number 2 wide receiver is under contract and will be with the team for the 2017 season. But as a fan of the sport, I must say that I am very disappointed in the direction the league is moving.
Let’s get one thing straight, the NFL has made it loud and clear over the years that this is a business. But compared to other leagues, like the NBA of MLB, the NFL is a one-sided business. NFL players don’t get fully guaranteed contracts like they do in the NBA. NFL players are subject to more punishment on themselves physically than their counterparts in other spots. And the worst part about being an NFL player, the second you have a bad year every sports analyst or columnist in the country is asking if you should be cut or negotiate a pay cut. The point here is that NFL players have way less financial security than athletes in other sports while NFL owners are getting richer and richer by the second. If you think about it for a second we scream when we think a player is being over paid (**cough Jarius Byrd **cough) but never voice concern when a player is grossly underpaid. Hell, when we cut someone from the team the very first thing that is mentioned is how much money we save on the cap. We don’t ask about the player’s family. Or how he will pay his bills. These athletes are people and often have families they are supporting. But as fans we often forget about that aspect. Because we don’t look at it as a business. This explains why when our favorite players hold out, like Drew Brees did a few years ago, we blame the player. But players are starting to realize this sad reality. The NFL owners care about one thing and that is how much money they are making week in and week out.
Most people will read this rant and say that the players are the reason the league is this way. Or, they should have fought harder during the last CBA negotiation. All valid points but when you have 32 of the richest businessmen in America fighting against inexperienced 20 something year old athletes, who did you expect was going to come out on top??
For players to be able to change the landscape of how they are paid, marquee players in the league are going to have to stand up to the owners and say enough is enough. Enter Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham is in an interesting place in New York. In my humble opinion Odell Beckham Jr. is the best player in all of football right now. If you want to debate this, we can. Beckham is literally on pace to be the best wide receiver of our generation. Just look at the records he is breaking on a yearly basis. He has become the fastest player EVER to reach 4,000 receiving yards while often being doubled covered with safety help over the top. He is the first player in history to have three straight seasons of 70-plus receptions, 1,000-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns. New York has placed the fifth-year option on him, meaning he will make in the ballpark of 8.5 million in 2018. His base salary in 2017? 1.8 MILLION!!!! That’s it. Yes, that a lot of money, but considering he is the best player in all of football, a little over a million dollars is just not market value.
Everybody lost their minds when Odell Beckham decided to stay away from OTAs to show the Giants his desire for a long-term deal. Honestly, I would hope that he would not report to training camp or play a down of football until said contract is signed and filed with the league office. One significant injury and Beckham could be just another average player or worse, out of football completely. Beckham has decided to report to training camp, so this dream that he would help change the landscape of the league might be out the window.
Beckham is one of the most recognizable in the NFL. Celebrities want to be this guy’s friend. Kids adore him. Fantasy owners love him. His jersey is one of the more popular in the NFL. Bottom line, the Mara family is making millions of dollars off the Odell Beckham name and only paying the man 1.8 million dollars with zero long-term security.
Beckham has more leverage than the average fan may think. He is a cash cow for the Giants organization. The Giants offense last year was 25th with Beckham. Where would they be without him? I am sorry but paying 1.8 million for a player like Odell Beckham is pure robbery.
Beckham isn’t the only player in this sort of situation either. Other marquee guys are facing the same battle. Aaron Donald, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Malcom Butler are all guys that come to mind. The NFL made this a business first and it’s time for the players to follow suit. Fans cheer the team more than the player anyways. Players are often seen as interchangeable pieces. It’s time that the players stand up and demand what they are worth.
As far as Willie Snead is concerned. I am confident that Snead and the Saints will reach a long-term deal sooner rather than later. I am confident that the Saints took notice that Snead showed up to OTAs and minicamp while unsigned and will do right by him. I just pray that Willie Snead doesn’t suffer a serious injury before that time comes.