Editorial: The NFL must find a better way to deal with
older players like Terry Glenn
The quality of play in the NFL has deteriorated over the
last several years because good older players are being replaced by younger
players that are more prone to mistakes.
The average length of service in the NFL has gone down as the average
player salary has increased. Why not
keep really productive older players?
The dreadful 4 disadvantages cause the older player to be cut.
By Bill Smith
players like Terry Glenn carry 4 disadvantages for any NFL team. To understand the pressures upon which
decisions about these players are made, it is essential that these
disadvantages be understood.
players are almost always more expensive than younger players. The last collective bargaining agreement
attempted to ease the pressure on NFL teams by excluding a portion of the
older player's base pay from the salary cap. That helps but it the team still has to
pay the entire amount. The players
are usually being paid not for what they are capable of doing now but for
their previous performance. Players
deserve to get paid what they are worth now but teams generally won't tear
up a low contract that is clearly less than what a player is worth. The next contract is where the team
tries to keep a player happy by paying for the extra productivity of the
player over the last few years.
- The older
player is likely to be a step slower than he was in his first couple of
years. The hope is that as the speed
and physical ability slips, the player's awareness and knowledge of the
game makes up some of the difference.
In some positions that works but in others it does not. Each position has a critical tipping
point past which the likelihood that a player will produce like he used to
is very low. An NFL running back is
usually done by 30 due to too many hits and the injury history of the
position. Other positions have
similar tipping points. Generally
the second contract the player signs takes him past the tipping
point. That puts both the player
and the team at risk if the dreaded “diminished skills” issue comes
up. Those of us old enough to
remember, never forgave the Browns for cutting Bernie Kosar for
- The older
player is much more likely to be injured and the injuries tend to be more
serious. In addition, it takes a
lot longer to recover from an injury at 30 than it did at 22. That means more games missed. Due to the higher salary of the older
player, those lost games tend to cost much more than with a younger
cheaper player. The older player is
by definition a starter which means not only more opportunities to be hurt
but a bigger hole to fill with a backup when an injury does occur. With no guaranteed contracts in the NFL,
if a guy can no longer start, he is cut.
Older players are seldom part of special teams.
- It is very
hard to teach an older player new tricks.
NFL means Not For Long for coaches that don't win early in their
contract. That not only applies to
the head coach but just as much to the offensive and defensive
coordinators. Changes in the
coaching staff often means a new scheme, terminology, and
methodology. A coaching candidate
that comes to an owner and says “I'm going to do exactly what the guy you
just fired did” won't get the job.
An owner changes coaches to shake things up and change the fortunes
of the team. Old players often do
not fit the new system. New GMs
have to prove that their choices are better than those by their
predecessors. That need to prove
“my guy is better than the former starter” has been the biggest issue in
the Favre vs Packers case. Besides,
the new administration has very little credibility invested in the guys
that were there when they were hired.
In addition the new staff has to overcome the leaders of the
team. Team leaders have already
earned the loyalty and respect of their team mates. The new coaches often have trouble
winning over the leaders and must compete with them for the loyalty of the
team. “When you try to lead and no
one follows you, you're not a leader.
You're just out for a long walk by yourself.”
Terry Glenn’s Case
those apply in the Terry Glenn case? All
of the above. Glenn is a leader that was
brought in by Parcells and Jerry Jones wants the team to know HE is the
boss. Glenn is a leader. The team depended on him because there is no
other leadership on the offense. There
are so many young players on the Cowboys offense, leadership is a problem. Don't expect Terrell Ownes to provide it. The young QB is too busy keeping an eye on his
girlfriend up in the stands. And of
course there is the issue of injury.
Glenn did miss all but the last 2 games last year. If however there had not been a power
struggle involved, a reasonable compromise would have been reached.
some things that the NFL and NFLPA can do to help keep older players in the
league. The teams must be more willing
to tear up contracts when a 6th round player shows he is a quality
starter. By granting those that produce
more than they cost, the team can keep the player longer for less total money
than if they sign him after his contract expires. By extending the contract and giving some up
front money a player will usually take around half of the “current market
price” because he will be paid more for the remaining years of the old
with new agents all want a new contract.
That is because the old agent is still getting a percentage of the
player's pay for having done the old deal.
Most of those player don't deserve new deals and their cries should be
and the NFL should agree to require a smaller percentage of the player's salary
apply to the salary cap based on years of service. The longer you have served, the smaller
percent of your pay is included in the cap.
finally, the rookie salary cap must be included in the new agreement. The NFL has the ability to limit salaries of
rookies outside of the collective bargaining agreement. The NFLPA can not sue the NFL over a rookie
salary cap because those that are harmed by the lower salaries are by
definition not members of the NFLPA until they sign. The NFLPA has no legal standing in such a
approach is to allocate a “compensatory draft choice” under the rules of the
current agreement for a drafted rookie that does not sign a contract. The NFL should define these players as
“unsigned free agents” and thus give the team that helps to hold down salaries
a draft choice the following year equal to the one they lost by not being able
to sign someone.
what I think. Do you agree or not? Let us know by adding a comment below.
Bill Smith is a
former coach of several semi-pro teams and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for http://BrutusReport.com. He has
also published several novels on http://ebooks-library.com/index.cfm and