To fix the league, NFL should look to the past
September 05, 2018 3:07 AM
by Jim Feist
What’s wrong with the NFL could be fixed or at least improved by rolling back the clock.
I’ve said it for decades, football starts with solid defense, offensive line, running game and a competent quarterback. In recent years we have all seen a movement away from these principles.
The trend of paying QB’s an inappropriate percent of the cap money each team has available has left little for other skill positions. Take for example the rookie pay scale. A few years ago, Russell Wilson was paid a few hundred grand a year under rookie standards. This allowed Seattle to pay skill position players big money, providing extra bucks for the Seahawks’ top flight skill position players.
Wilson, a great talent, had a solid offensive line and great running backs behind him. This led the Seahawks to the top of the NFL. Once the rookie tag was lifted from Wilson, the Seahawks were forced to pay him a large salary to keep him in Seattle. The money had to come from someplace, so the Hawks began shedding big salaries thus losing many quality players from the offensive line and defense.
This same scenario is playing out again this year with Sam Darnold of the Jets, Josh Rosen with the Cardinals and Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. All these teams have the proverbial gun to their heads to get these QB’s on the field and hope they click.
Paying the rookie QB salary to these new players will leave a ton of cash on the table for the teams to pay the best skill position players who can then hopefully take them to the promised land.
I think one of the fixes I would make to the system is lowering the pay scale for QB’s and spreading the wealth throughout the rest of the team to create more stability. No QB plays well while running from a strong pass rush or recovering from injury. There are exceptions like Wilson, who is physically strong to take hits but also slippery enough to avoid contact and deliver production with little help from his friends on the OL and RB’s. Andrew Luck was not skilled in those attributes and hence was sacked, hit or hurried and eventually out for two years due to injury.
The NFL is a very successful business by anyone’s standards, however they are facing many difficult issues that they must address sooner, rather than later, like concussions. There have been many rule changes to try and slow the frequency of concussions, which were highly criticized and difficult to enforce. The one most talked about is the new helmet rule, already controversial and misunderstood. This rule and the way it is interpreted will change the outcome of many games and anger many fans and bettors.