Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday

Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday

No general manager ever wants to pay full price for a player

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

You may be looking for a new television or Macbook today and on Cyber Monday, but general managers in professional sports are looking for those types of deals 365 1/4 days a year. Money ain’t a thing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, but the other pro sports franchises in America have budgets and salary caps to worry about.

It’s why the NFL made sure to add a rookie wage scale to the collective bargaining agreement in 2011. There would be no more JaMarcus Russells taking up so much of the salary cap. These days, if the No. 1 overall pick in the draft plays like an all-league talent from day 1, it gives franchises the flexibility to quickly build a roster that can compete for a championship

That is one of many mechanisms that American professional sports use to control player salaries, so the owners have as many chances as possible to sign players to contracts that are a relative bargain compared to what their talent would command in a truly open market.

Since the billionaire franchise owners are just like us trying to purchase a Bluetooth speaker at below market rate, let’s get in the Black Friday spirit by looking at some of the biggest bargain contracts in American sports.

Advertisement

2 / 8

Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons

Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

His arrival completely changed the Dallas Cowboys. The team got punched in the chest with Dak Prescott’s injury in 2020, but they needed more than just the return of their starting quarterback to turn the franchise around. Their defense was a below-average group and that had to change for them to compete for a Super Bowl.

Parsons was drafted 12th overall in 2021, and the Cowboys have plugged into his energy source. Last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year also was named First-team All-Pro. This season, he has been the leader of one of the best defensive units in the NFL. His salary this season is less than $5 million.

Advertisement

3 / 8

Desmond Bane

Desmond Bane

Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

The second scorer that has been crucial to the current success of the Memphis Grizzlies. He’s a lights-out 3-point shooter who can also get to the hoop, create for others, and has the size to balance what Ja Morant lacks in that department.

This season, he was averaging 24.7 points per game before he was sidelined with a big toe injury. Since he has been out, the Grizzlies have gone 1-4. He was drafted in 2020, so he is not eligible to sign his rookie extension until the end of this season. Bane’s 2022-23 salary is just under $4 million.

Advertisement

4 / 8

Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson

Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

Dominant quarterbacks are few and far between in the NFL. That’s why most teams don’t mess around when contract time comes around for one. Jackson won an MVP in his second season, and since he’s been with the Ravens the only season they missed playoffs was 2021 when he missed the last four games due to injury.

Jackson and the Ravens negotiated over the summer, but an agreement couldn’t be reached. The reports are that he wanted a fully guaranteed deal, and while the Ravens offered him $290 million in total, only $133 million was guaranteed at signing — Russell Wilson was guaranteed $165 million. One of the biggest stars in the NFL is in his fifth season, and currently playing for just over $23 million.

Advertisement

5 / 8

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

He’s large, but his contract is enormous. Early in the 2020-21 NBA season, Antetokounmpo signed his name to the biggest contract in NBA history. A supermax offer for 5 years, $228 million. The Milwaukee Bucks went all in, assembled a championship-caliber roster, and paid him every cent allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. They didn’t go cheap with him anyway.

That’s because they didn’t have to. The Bucks could offer him one more year than the rest of the NBA, but were still capped by a rule on exactly how much they could offer the best player in the league. Imagine Antetokounmpo, in 2020 coming off a disappointing playoff run that ended with his Game 3 injury. If he is set to hit a true unrestricted free agency in 2021 with no limits on what teams are allowed to offer him, including the Bucks, do you think he signs a 5-year $228 million extension?

Advertisement

6 / 8

Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes

Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

Unlike the Baltimore Ravens, the Kansas City Chiefs had no problem making Patrick Mahomes the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL after his second season as a starter. In fact, they made him the highest-paid American team sport athlete with a 10-year contract worth up to $503 million.

However, the Chiefs were smart to get that deal done as soon as possible, because 2020’s starting quarterback price is not today’s price. With the money tossed to quarterbacks like playing cards this last season, Mahomes is now the fifth-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL with his guaranteed salary over three years averaging out to $45 million per year, according to ESPN.

Advertisement

7 / 8

Any MLB player who received an award but is not yet a free agent

Any MLB player who received an award but is not yet a free agent

Image for article titled Sports franchises approach every contract negotiation like its Black Friday
Photo: Getty Images

Michael Harris II had a great season for the Atlanta Braves. The centerfielder won National League Rookie of the year with a 135 OPS-plus and 19 home runs, and a 5.3 overall war. The Braves saw this coming and inked him to an eight-year, $72 million contract this summer.

Seems generous to offer a rookie a long-term deal a few months into a good season, but it really puts them in a sweet spot. His contract is, per the collective bargaining agreement, under their control for seven years. Harris wouldn’t be arbitration eligible until after his third season, unless he qualified as a “Super Two” player after his second. Also, the only significant money he has seen as a pro is his $550,000 rookie signing bonus in 2019, so of course, he would be satisfied with some millions in his pocket so quickly.

The problem with Harris, and many other players, is that they are bound to the team that drafted them for seven years. It leaves them no room to maximize their value so while Julio Rodríguez’s contract looks great, the deal favors the Seattle Mariners. They control all the options, and he has to meet all the MVP escalators to get all the money in a deal that can last through 2039.

Advertisement

8 / 8