tr1 Posted May 19, 2005 Share Posted May 19, 2005 T.O. not greedy, he's just putting capitalism to work It never hurts to ask for more money does it? ASK THE NFL EXPERT By Don Pierson NBCSports.com contributor Updated: 3:16 p.m. ET May 18, 2005 http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7898174/ There is no offseason for Drew Rosenhaus. The star agent to football stars is busy fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way. Especially the American Way. Rosenhaus is trying to get more money for his clients. It is what agents do. To do it, he is withholding the services of his clients, the only leverage he has. For this tactic, he is being criticized by fans and media and feared in front offices. He is rattling sabres on behalf of Terrell Owens in Philadelphia, Javon Walker in Green Bay, Anquan Boldin in Arizona, Reuben Droughns in Cleveland-all of whom skipped recent team minicamps. He just got a new deal for Santana Moss with his new team in Washington and he serves as adviser to Jeremy Shockey in New York and Sean Taylor in Washington, who have been reluctant to participate in offseason programs. Most of his clients are already under contract. To some people, such as Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, that means the players should stay quiet and happy. Not to Rosenhaus, advocate of the squeaky wheel theory. In most businesses, employees with contracts don’t need agents mainly because they don’t have leverage. Football is not most businesses. Football is supply and demand, capitalism at its best. Or worst, depending on your point of view. In most businesses, employees who decide not to come to work because they want a raise usually are given this advice: don’t let the door hit you in the rear. In football, similar sentiments are often expressed. Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, for example, said the Eagles could win a Super Bowl with or without Owens. Brave words, and perhaps true, yet the Eagles are not really inclined to want to find out. Owner Jeffrey Lurie says there will be no renegotiation of Owens’ one-year-old $49 million deal. Favre says he hopes the Packers don’t re-do Walker’s deal with two years left at base salaries of $515,000 this season and $650,000 in 2006. The average salary of the top five receivers in the league is $7.8 million. Is there harm in asking? Many teams redo contracts with one year left before players hit free agency. If Rosenhaus is guilty of asking for more money, he has been paying attention to an industry that thrives on squeezing money out of as many television networks as it can round up. Television needs content. Football teams need football players. Rosenhaus had Green Bay cornerback Mike McKenzie hold out last season. When he reported, he did so with the express intent of disrupting things until he got a trade accomplished. Did McKenzie get blackballed out of the league? No, he got traded to New Orleans, where he presumably is happy. Not that there aren’t side effects. McKenzie’s situation might have cost Green Bay’s Mike Sherman his general manager title. It also is curious how McKenzie can be happy on a mediocre Saints team and just how much he contributed to the 32nd-ranked defense in the league. Still, McKenzie remains gainfully employed in the NFL and makes regular trips to the bank. Rosenhaus is still getting regular checks from him, so all is well. It is pro football, after all. In Arizona, Boldin was the 2003 offensive rookie of the year and is scheduled to earn $380,000 in base salary and $300,000 in a signing bonus this season, the third year of the four-year contract he signed after being drafted in the second round. Last year, Boldin watched the team’s other star receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, sign a six-year, $60 million contract, with $20 million guaranteed. Since Boldin had a better rookie season, why not ask? Do such disruptions harm team chemistry? There is scant evidence. Favre and Walker will be best friends again after a few touchdown passes. Already, Walker has taken steps to make sure there are no hard feelings and that his situation doesn’t deteriorate like the Owens and McNabb flap. In 1985, before the current free agent system, two starters for the Chicago Bears held out all season. Safety Todd Bell and linebacker Al Harris missed one of the great seasons in NFL history. Their plight was not enough to caution against future holdouts. Are players hurt? Not usually. Bell and Harris had less leverage than players do now. In today’s NFL, players have more choices. They can become free agents or teams must franchise them and pay them the going rate. There are other choices players can make. New England quarterback Tom Brady had the choice of signing an extension that will pay him $60 million for six years, or of holding out for a Peyton Manning-type deal that would have paid $98 million for seven years. Brady probably noticed that Manning is the jealous one as he eyes Brady’s three Super Bowl rings and two Super Bowl MVP trophies. Someday, Terrell Owens might regret that he will be remembered more as a malcontent than a football player. Or maybe not. It is not Rosenhaus’s job to worry about the legacy of his players. He is paid to increase their bank accounts, period. The Eagles knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Owens a year ago. Here was a talented player who began trashing his quarterback, Jeff Garcia, in San Francisco, and then his coach, Steve Mariucci. Eventually, he fired his agent and hired Rosenhaus, who also should know what he got himself into. If the Eagles and their fans are surprised by this turn of events, they are naïve. If they ever thought they could flourish without Owens, they never would have made the deal. If they now think they can flourish without him, they better get rid of him while the getting stays good. It might already be too late, but it’s hard to blame Owens for wanting more money or blame Rosenhaus for asking. In football, somebody is always bound to say yes. Q: The Jets got a kicker and picked up a good corner (for a second rounder) in the draft. Is this gonna be the year, or are they gonna be mediocre again? —Alan, Springfield, Mass. A: Since it was not one but two misses by the ex-kicker against Pittsburgh that kept the Jets from getting to the AFC title game, I’d say they were a little better than mediocre last year. Every time I saw the Jets, they looked good, but they also lost to the Patriots and to the Steelers twice each, indicating they weren’t quite ready for prime time. The return of receiver Laveranues Coles should help because he’s better than Santana Moss. Tight end Doug Jolley should give quarterback Chad Pennington a better target than they had in Anthony Becht. Defensive tackle Lance Legree was an excellent pickup from the Giants after the loss of Jason Ferguson. Running back Derrick Blaylock also will be a good backup to Curtis Martin now that they no longer have Lamont Jordan. Their biggest loss was offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie. Protecting Pennington remains a priority in new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s scheme. Scoring more points is the idea because the defense gave up only 13 points to New England and 17 and 20 points to Pittsburgh and lost all three times, a frustrating state of affairs for coach Herman Edwards. They are in a tough division, but if anybody can creep up on the Patriots, it’s the Jets. Q: Don, have the Falcons done enough to ensure back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in the franchise’s history? —Parker Gilbert, Marietta, Ga. A: Amazing stat, isn’t it? I think you’re going to find out the answer to your question in the first five weeks of a very tough opening schedule-Philadelphia on Monday night, at Seattle, at Buffalo, Minnesota and New England at home. If they can end up 3-2, they should have enough momentum to carry them to another winning season. Even if they don’t do that well at the start, of course, anything less than a winning season will be a major disappointment for coach Jim Mora. Their offseason moves were modest, but they didn’t suffer any big losses either. Adding linebacker Edgerton Hartwell in free agency and receiver Roddy White in the draft should show dividends right away. Michael Vick must learn how to find more than one target, Alge Crumpler. The Falcons finished first in the league in rushing, but the 30th pass offense won’t cut it. Q: What will it take for the New Orleans Saints to become a consistent winner in their division? —Rod Davis, Cozumel, Mexico A: They’re the only team from the NFC South that hasn’t made a Super Bowl trip in the last seven seasons, so it’s not easy to go from also-ran to consistent winner. The first two things it will take are more consistency on defense and at the quarterback position. The 32d-ranked defense isn’t going to win in any division and the only major change they made in the offseason was adding Dwight Smith in place of safety Tebucky Jones. They are counting a lot on second-year end Will Smith and the defensive line to take pressure off a mediocre linebacking corps. Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Brooks has to take the next step. He’s thrown up some decent numbers, but has yet to earn the reputation as a winner. Quarterbacks are graded on one thing-whether they win games. Brooks can argue he hasn’t had sufficient support from the leaky defense, but he also seems a little too satisfied by statistics other than the bottom line. Don Pierson writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the NFL for the Chicago Tribune. For more of Pierson's work, visit http://www.chicagosports.com/ © 2005 MSNBC.com Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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