Financial Planning, NFL Style: Nnamdi Asomugha Knows When to Turn It Up
Nnamdi, Nnamdi, Nnamdi …
Say it isn’t so, man.
Please tell me that you and so many of your NFL fraternity brothers don’t 'cook the books' by only playing hard in contract years.
We’ve all seen it, thought it, and tried to draw conclusions on this topic. Heck, it's so widely known that even NFL analysts and fantasy experts make statements around how well a player is going to do in a given year because he’s in a “contract year.”
As fans, we should find this nauseating.
Flashback to July of 2011, when Asomugha signed what was then one of the most lucrative contracts for a defensive back in NFL history. The five-year, $60million contract had language guaranteeing Asomugha $25million. Then-Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid had this to say of Asomugha after Philadelphia signed him:
"He's one of the best -- if not the best -- cornerback in the National Football League; he'll be a great addition to our cornerback corps, right now."
Nnamdi Asomugha was ranked 64 out of 71 cornerbacks last season, allowing the fourth-most yards after catch as well as the third-highest passer rating against. His final year in Oakland -- his contract year -- he ranked sixth overall.
So, is it a coincidence he was First Team All-Pro in 2010 -- his contract year -- allowing him to sign a massive free agent contract, but played so poorly in Philadelphia that the Eagles had to release him after just two years?
Fast forward to this season. After lollygagging in Philly for two seasons and cashing his $25million paycheck, Nnamdi was released and free to sign with a new team.
The San Francisco 49ers, smartly, signed him to one-year deal worth up to $3million with base salary and incentives combined.
Incentives. What a novel idea! But we’ll get back to that
After being considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league, Asomugha wasn’t even third on the depth chart in San Francisco until today. How is that possible? Are the 49ers cornerbacks just that good? Or perhaps, did they list him so far down the depth chart after acquiring him based on his poor play in Philly, and now, in a “contract year,” Asomugha has a reason to play hard again, moving his way back up the depth chart.
Getting back to incentives ...
Sooner or later, these billionaire businessmen owners of NFL franchises are going to have to get wise to what is going on. Why not pay these players very handsome salaries by any reasonable standards and simply tack on tons of high priced incentives? Imagine an NFL cornerback who makes $3million in base salary but gets a commission for every interception, TD, tackle for loss, etc. That player would be playing like a … well … like a person who has to 'fight' and 'perform' for his salary. Like a person who, if not performing well enough, the 'company' would go find someone who could do the job better.
Ahh, who am I kidding, that would be too much like real life.
Makes you wonder if fantasy football isn’t what’s really being played on the field on Sundays.