Doug Baldwin guest commentary: Free agency from the player’s perspective

By Doug Baldwin, Seahawks receiver

Free Agency starts on Tuesday and with that, we will see the business side of the NFL take a front seat in the media vehicle. We have already seen tough decisions being made around the league with a few hitting close to home. Fans around the world are sitting on the edge of their seats wondering what the future holds for their favorite teams. Some fans will confuse a player’s desire for higher pay as a selfish act against their team. But tonight I want to give you, the fans, the player’s perspective of what really goes on.

The NFL stands for many things depending on your perspective. “Not for long” and “No… Loyalty” are other acronyms for the National Football League. These descriptions of the NFL are very accurate as they are for most businesses.

Remember, the average life span of a NFL career is only 3.5 years. The majority of those careers end not on the player’s terms but are a result of being cut or from injury. Many fans also have an inflated view of the average player salary. You have to realize that the league average of 1.5 Million dollars a year is boosted by the enormously expensive contracts of players like Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, all of which make around 20 million a year. Don’t get me wrong, the yearly average is a lot of money, but lets compare apples to apples.

Take me for example, after going undrafted my total contract for the past three years before taxes adds up to 1.4 million. Did you catch that? In my three years as a professional I made what is apparently the league average for one year. This is common among NFL rosters, which on average, includes 13 undrafted players per team. Keep in mind, Richard Sherman and I made the same amount over that time period from our NFL contracts. So what’s my point?

It is not often that an NFL player reaches unrestricted free agency being highly sought after by other teams. With so much uncertainty in the game of football and life in general, is it really that bad that players want to get the most out of their short window of opportunity? An opportunity they have dreamed of and worked for their entire lives to take part in.

It’s ironic that some fans can cheer their hearts out for a player during the season and then quickly turn on them during free agency calling them greedy and selfish. To me, that is disappointing considering how much us players appreciate and need the fan support.

In fact, you’d be surprised at how often players take less than what they could get to help their team spread the wealth. In my three years of first-hand experience, I can tell you that it happens a lot, but rarely makes headline news.

Again, many fans will not get the bigger picture. They’ll continue to argue that players make enough money and shouldn’t be greedy. But, with the NFL having such a high turnover rate (for example cutting players left and right) as well as having a 100% injury rate, is it truly greedy to want to get the most out of all the hard work you put into your craft? Is it that hard to fathom. Or is emotion crowding your mind’s ability to critically think with logic. If that is the case, then who is really thinking selfishly?

7 comments

  • Denise Hayes

    yeah actually it is bad…I can't sit here watching someone who plays football bitch about 1.4 million and really have a hard time listening to some of these amounts knowing full well we have people starving in our country..knowing our Veterans are not getting anything near that amount but they gave a lot more than playing football…I think the salaries are ridiculous – no you have not earned it – a Veteran earned it!!! Now I am a #12 but I do not stand behind this ridiculous argument or these ridiculous salaries!!!!!

  • Dean

    Doug,
    The fans do get "the bigger picture" it is one where the average NFL player makes more in a year than most fans do in several decades, if not a career. Yes, they still save up and purchase tickets to support the team. Believe it or not that is a positive and not a negative. No wonder they feel betrayed.

  • thomas

    Go get yours Doug! I hope you stay a Hawk. The ignorant pedestrian commenters here can suffer in their own pathetic misery. GO HAWKS!

  • DO WHAT YA GOTTA DO

    We love the game.. but we aren't putting our bodies or good health on the line for it. If anyone were to be injured in some type of accident, they would expect to be paid for the now, as well as the what's to com. When I found out what Goodell is making as NFL Commissioner sitting on his tail, no one should begrudge you for anting to secure your future, as well as the future of your family. I hope you stay. My father is a Baldwin,just turned 83… he's from back east too.. Y'all look soooo much alike. he is very proud of you Doug.. wears your number proudly! Do your thing Doug… and GO HAWKS!!!

  • Joe

    Love your game, Doug. Always enjoy watching your interviews, and I appreciate the opportunity to read your column. Like you, I went to high school in Pensacola. That was back in the early 70's. Escambia High, during the race wars. Got lucky & landed a summer job paying $2.75/hr. I thought I should be making more & made the mistake of mentioning that to my buddies, who all earned minimum wage–about $2.13/hr, as I recall. I was kind of shocked and a little bit offended when I got no sympathy, but I learned something that day. If you're doing okay, then money's a subject you can apply critical logic to. If not, then it can easily become an emotional one. Kind of like some of the postings above. In the end, it's just people being people, and that's a pretty hard thing to change. Nice try, though! Hope you're able to stay a Seahawk for a long time, man.

  • Brashmouse

    I have been proud of the respect shown on field gulls and other sites toward the Hawks players. I see a lot of wish we could afford you but you earned more than the your selfish for taking the highest bid. It was sad to see Big Red and Sid go but we have known since last off season that unless they excelled above and beyond past performances both would be cut this year. Both are loved and I would love to see both back if they can, just at a lower price to balance against the worth to the team. The choices can be harsh such as Mike Rob last year but almost every situation like the 3 i just mentioned for the hawks are due to the player having already been rewarded for excelling and hasn't been continuing to prove that he deserves more than the next guy in line even if it was due to injury. To Denise I say that the owners charge what they can get from the fans and if the players aren't getting the money then the owners will, not everyman. I do have a problem with the highest contracts-I don't think any player is worth more than, say 7% of the team cap but the owners are willing to pay it. It just makes the team weaker as a whole.

    Doug is a great player and I hope the Hawks have him for a long time, Thank you sir.

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