I Want to Win: Taking Championships Over Money
Today is the day. Finally, the NFL offseason REALLY begins.
The past week has been a flurry of speculation, smokescreens, trades and big signings. Many players such as Ndomakung Suh, Byron Maxwell, Pernell McPhee, Jeremy Parnell and Orlando Franklin all received massive deals.
They also have something else in common - every single one of them went from a team that made the playoffs last season to a team that missed the playoffs.
Some of that has to deal with the culture of their new team. And I'm sure there is some truth every now and then when a player says they want to "make their mark and help a team get over the hump".
But let's be honest - it's about the money.
Anyone - whether it be player, coach, owner, GM, fan, etc. - will say that your career in the NFL can end in a second. So why blame them for wanting a big contract? Honestly, you can't.
This is their livelihood, how they pay the bills and feed their families. They have worked harder than anyone else attempting to reach their goal of becoming an NFL player. But when does it become too much money?
Now don't mistake that for the fact that they did indeed get paid. Cobb signed a four-year/$40 million contract with the Packers and McCourty signed a five-year/$47.5 million deal with New England. But both players turned down more money in order to stay with their former teams.
The reason? They want to win - and not just regular season games - they want to win championships.
McCourty is coming off of a Super Bowl victory with the Pats and Cobb was literally one play away from reaching the Super Bowl. Both players were key in getting to those points.
Cobb was also smart financially as well. Not only does he get to pile up the stats playing with Aaron Rodgers for the next four years, but Cobb - also just 24 - is now in prime position to ink an even bigger deal when he turns 28.
McCourty meanwhile, gets to stay in the same city he has called home for the past five seasons. He has been to two Super Bowls since arriving to New England in 2010. Why would he leave?
So why are players such as Suh and Maxwell so determined in getting paid that they are willing to substitute success for money? Is the difference between $30 million guaranteed and $28 million that big of a deal?
For some players, it's a big deal. Not only do they see the dollar signs, but it's an issue of pride as well. Maxwell is also coming off of a Super Bowl victory two years ago and another trip to the big game last year - so for him, maybe he feels like it's time to get paid.
But what does that mean for the Eagles who just shelled out $64 million for this guy? Will he bring the same amount of intensity as in seasons past? Will he pay as much attention in the film room? How will he bond with his new teammates?
Maybe these decisions say more about the culture of the Patriots and Packers than anything. Both teams have long-standing traditions of success, good front office management and the ability to develop players. That is a rare quality to find in NFL teams these days.
And it is even more of a challenge to find a player who is willing to take less money in order to win.
It's obviously too early to compare, but when the other major free agents at these two positions are signed, one has to be very curious to see how close the numbers are. If Vegas had an over/under prop of how many deals are larger - I'd take the under.