Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Make the Best Business Decision

It's more a curse than a blessing. But the Detroit Lions have been "rewarded" for their historical 0-16 season with the first pick in the NFL draft. The question now becomes who will they draft. The top candidates are a pair of left tackles (Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe), a middle linebacker (Aaron Curry) and a quarterback (Matt Stafford). I'm not quite sure who the best player of the four is, but I think the Lions should make the best business decision and everything else will fall into place.

The #1 pick is not desirable because the team will have to pay a LOT of money for the player, much of it guaranteed. Last year's #1 pick left tackle Jake Long contract was immense (5 years @ $57.75 million with $30 million guaranteed) and the year before that quarterback JaMarcus Russell (6 years $68 million, with $31.5 million guaranteed) hit the friggin lotto.

Right from the get go you will make an unproven rookie one of the highest paid players in the league. So you need to be absolutely sure the guy is going to work out. (Which they never do for the Lions.)

Also, since you will be paying a new rookie more than $11 million a year, it needs to be at a position where teams typically pay that kind of money, which is quarterback, left tackle and maybe defensive line and #1 wide receiver. So, for instance, if the Lions draft Aaron Curry, a linebacker, they will need to pay him at least $10 million a year. The highest paid middle linebacker in the league is Brian Urlacher who is paid a bit less than that amount.

So that's the dilemma right there. The Lions need a linebacker bad but it makes more sense to draft the best player at left tackle or quarterback (given the names at the top of the board.) So, the best business decision, is to sign Jason Smith for a five or six year contract somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million per year with $32 million guaranteed. It will be interesting to see how my amateur opinion holds up over the next month as this deal gets done.

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