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?