By Ryan Kaczmarski
The National Football League should take some pointers from the National Basketball Association. No, not the way they are handling the NBA lockout, which has been going on since July 1, but the way they set up the draft lottery.
I know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, but in Cleveland it is the usual time to start thinking about the NFL draft (some have been talking about it for weeks now).
The day after the 2012 Superbowl, the NFL will go into the first full offseason with the rookie salary scale in place. Before the rookie pay scale was put into place by the new collective bargaining agreement, the top draft picks each year could command sky-high salaries and guaranteed signing bonuses. If a team screwed up on a high draft pick, it could send a franchise back five years (see the Oakland Raiders and JaMarcus Russell, who after being selected with the first pick of the 2007 NFL draft, new head-coach Lane Kiffin refused to work with Russell. Russell held out until the Raiders signed him to a contract worth $61 million with $32 million guaranteed and was out of the league after three unremarkable seasons). Now, there is the rookies’ wage scale that looks like this:
• Five-year contracts, with a team option for the fifth year.
• If the team option is exercised, in the fifth year the top 10 picks would receive a salary equal to the average of the top 10 player salaries at their respective positions. That money would be guaranteed if the option is exercised after the third year of the contract.
• If the team option is exercised, in the fifth year picks 11-32 would receive a salary equal to the average of the Nos. 3-25 salaries at their respective positions. That money would be guaranteed if the option is exercised after the third year of the contract. (From nfl.com)
Putting a draft lottery in place would end the practice (if it really happens) of teams tanking a season to get the top draft pick.
I do not think that any team, amateur or professional, should ever try to lose on purpose. It undermines everything that sports are supposed to be. The purity of competition would be compromised and it makes the NFL no more real than the WWE. If the NFL put a draft lottery in place, all the bottom rung of teams would have a chance to get the top pick and having the absolute worst record would be taken out of the conversation.
Now that “my team” the Cleveland Browns has won its fourth game, it is in position for the seventh or eighth pick in the 2012 draft (if the season ended today). All pipe dreams of bringing Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck to the North Coast are dashed, but is that what we really wanted anyway? I would rather my team went out every Sunday and put its best effort on the field week in and week out without the worry of the draft hanging over its head.