The Cleveland Browns will have both Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson in camp now that they’ve come to terms on contract with their two first round draft choices. That’s good news for the new rookie wage scale as well as for the Browns. It is also interesting to note that even despite all the guaranteed money, the Browns (and all other NFL teams) are far better off financially. In 2010 before the rookie wage scale went into effect if the Browns had selected 3rd and 22nd, they would have been on the hook for more than double the money.
In 2010 Gerald McCoy went third and Demaryius Thomas went 22nd. McCoy signed with the Bucs for five years and up to $63.4 million with $35 million guaranteed. Thomas signed a five year deal worth about $15 million wth $9.35 guaranteed. Combined, the two guys could cost over $75 million and at minimum will cost $43 million over five years. That’s $8.6 million per year minimum that the Browns would have to come up with had they been picking in 2010 before the rookie wage scale.1
So, here’s how the Browns end up looking with the deals they signed with Richardson and Weeden.
On first glance it doesn’t appear like $28.6 million total over four years ($7.15 million average) is that huge of a savings over the $8.6 million per year guaranteed under the old system. Trust me though. It is far different. Look at the structure of Gerald McCoy’s contract.
As you can see, McCoy’s agent got a roster bonus in the second year worth $12 million. While technically that isn’t “guaranteed” how big of a bust would McCoy have had to be in order for the Bucs to cut bait before his second season? McCoy’s signing bonus of $23 million was bigger than Trent Richardson’s entire guaranteed deal. On top of that, if you add his signing bonus and that early roster bonus, McCoy costs more in two years from a cash flow standpoint than Weeden and Richardson do for the entirety of their rookie contracts.
Combine all this info with the fact that the Browns get their rookies in on time and the NFL is working a salary floor into the game and it really should be good for everyone. Guys who have earned big contracts should get more money and rookies and their agents won’t be able to hold up the league based purely on speculation every single year.
What’s not to like?
Incidentally, the Browns did select Joe Haden that year and he’s due monstrous money still, even if we think he might be worth it.