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Sunday, July 24, 2005

I want Bubba Franks as a Packer

by Joe Lacey
For PackerChatters

I want Bubba Franks as a Packer, and I think he's fundamental to our 2005 season.

Ted Thompson has not revealed his realistic strategy for managing this team, and he has no reason to be loyal to the players that we love. I will respect TT for being frugal where he can be, and taking calculated risks where he can. Bubba falls into the frugal part of this year's equation, so don't hold you breath for his contract renogiations. (Now just watch him sign tomorrow! ha-ha-ha!)

That's the business end of the NFL. it's why we're seeing our players both come back to the Packers after supposedly insulting offers since 2004 (Reugamer, Kampman, Navies, etc.) and move on to teams that might not be as successful (Wahle, Rivera, Sharper, etc.)

The reality of Franks is that even if he's the best TE in the league, he'll only get from the Packers what they can afford to pay him this year. Since they can exercise the franchise tag, they'll do it. They're not cruel or disrespectful for that. They're intelligent.

His salary will be based on RELATIVE worth. That includes his relative worth within our 53-man roster (very high), his relative worth around the league (top 10), and the realistic prospects for TEs in THIS offseason (top half). For Franks, he's gotten a bit of bad luck with his contract timing.

The best TEs are secured by their teams (Gates, Gonzalez, Shockey, Heap, etc. etc. etc.), and most teams have a TE they are happy with (for their system) whom they could get for a price that represented less work than trying to get Bubba, and the draft provided cheaper solutions for teams that wanted a good new TE. Playing TE is not rocket science, so rookies can be very effective when they want to be. To get Franks away from the Packers THIS YEAR, some team will have to commit a good deal of money to him, and the Packers can match it. Unlucky for Bubba.

The Packers are intelligent to wait as long as possible to determine the CHEAPEST price they can pay to Franks to keep him a Packer. I'm so sorry if some of you might think he "deserves" more, or that Hunt is a sack of shite so "how DARE they do that to Bubba!!!", but it's economics, friends. Comparative micro economics, in case you're curious.

Anyone who thinks that contracts set good examples for other players are being too romantic, IMO. What's to say that giving more money for Bubba than the Packers technically NEED to offer isn't going to make other players reluctant to sign for less than their perceived worth? What's to say they all won't mutter under their breath that those extra $500,000 per year could have been THEIRS? Can anyone argue that the tactics of the New England Patriots have not resulted in 3 Super Bowl victories in 4 years, with 10+home playoff victories and the revenue, recognition, and fan satisfaction that has come with it? Do they offer more money to their players than they can get away with offering? In fact, they repeatedly pick up the cheapest specific role players they can from other teams and resign their proven vets for less money than the previous year... after those same players have performed above and beyond their previous contract. The vets that don't like it literally get shown the door.

The fact is that every month of every year in the NFL, the players have the option to refuse to give their services to the team because they perceive that they are WORTH more money than their contract. Bubba's contract only affects the other Packer contracts if another team wants to steal him. Right now TT can count on Bubba at the franchise rate. The more money TT has to work with at that point (signing every other player he possibly can before Bubba) will help to determine how much Bubba is worth to the 2005 Packers in the event that another team wants him to change jerseys.

Our opinion as fans really won't change a thing about NFL contracts.

If you want to give the Packers advice about their player contracts, study sports law and get them to hire you. It's not like watching game film, though doing that well certainly isn't easy either. But writing contracts of any kind is no walk in the park. Negotiating 53 contracts could put a bit more of a limp in your stride, and keeping up with the 32X53 = more than 1500 NFL player contracts per year in order to determine relative worth might be the kind of thing you'd want to actually take your time to get it right.

Especially when you've got to answer to the fans of the Green Bay Packers.
Bubba wants to be paid #3.5M per year and the Packers are offering a long term contract of around $2.5M. I think that is fair for a solid blocking TE who is good in the red zone, but mediocre at best over the rest of the field. In other words, he has been offered to my mind a contract relecting his relative worth.
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