In case you missed the news, the Los Angeles Rams just signed wide receiver Brandin Cooks to a deal worth $80 million over five years.
Which is amazing!
Which is awesome!
Which is fantastic!
Which is, well, bullshit.
In the real world, signing a contract means you get what is on the paper. Meaning, if I sign a book deal for, say, $50,000, I will be receiving $50,000. Maybe the earnings are split over three payments or a couple of years—but I will, with 100 percent certainty—be handed the promised dough.
In the NFL, however, contracts don’t mean what we generally report. For example, in all likelihood Cooks isn’t actually getting $80 million. He received an unreported amount as a signing bonus, and those dollars are guaranteed. But otherwise, the Rams can dump their new No. 1 wide receiver whenever they feel it’s appropriate—and no remaining monies are due. For example, let’s say Cooks turns into Lam Jones this season, and catches 24 balls for 432 yards and a touchdown. The Rams, I assure you, will drop him ASAP. And all that promised dough goes … poof!
Actually, I’ll put it this way. My first book deal, for “The Bag Guys Won!” paid around $150,000 (that sounds far better than it is, because I got the dough over 2 1/2 years). Had HarperCollins decided to go the NFL hype route, they could have said it was a book deal for $5 million—with $150,000 guaranteed. Then, they simply decide, “Meh, he doesn’t need the other $4.85 mill.”
So why does the NFL do this shit? A couple of reasons …
A. It feeds to ego of players.
B. It feeds to ego of agents.
C. It helps people forget that little-to-none of the dough is guaranteed, and a blown ACL or fifth concussion ends everything.
Sean McCoy, the Rams coach, said “We’re excited to keep Brandin in a Rams uniform through 2023.”
Eh, don’t hold your breath.