If you have been following the NFL at all this past week, chances are you heard about three of the league's biggest stars getting paid like it. Drew Brees' five-year, $100 million deal broke records by giving Brees the most guaranteed money ever in an NFL contract ($60 million). And at the eleventh hour, running backs Ray Rice and Matt Forte signed long-term extensions to avoid being franchised and/or holding out of training camp.
For the purposes of this post, we're just going to gloss over Brees' Big Bucks. He's a quarterback coming off a record-breaking season and arguably means more to his franchise than any other player in the league. Everyone knew Brees deserved to get paid. Everyone knew that the Saints would eventually get smart and sign their most important player when they desperately needed good news to deflect some of the negativity that has bombarded their team. It's hard to find a Vikings fan that appreciates the Saints franchise right now, but I think we can all respect what Brees has done on the field.
What I find more interesting is the deals that Rice and Forte signed. Rice signed with Baltimore for five years and Forte re-upped with Chicago for four. The exact terms of each contract haven't been released yet, but it's said that both players will average about $8 million per season.
Once again, it's pretty obvious that both players deserved new deals judging from their exemplary play. But compare and contrast those two contracts with the whopper that Adrian Peterson signed last year. Did the Ravens and Bears get a better deal for locking up their franchise RBs than the Vikings did?
Peterson's deal was for more years (seven) and way more money (he can make up to $100 million with incentive bonuses). Before the salary cap experts jump down my throat, I'll acknowledge that there's a very small chance that the Vikings will pay Peterson for all seven years of the deal. It's incredibly back-loaded, which means unless he's still the best running back in the league at age 31 he'll likely have to restructure. But even if he plays under the contract for five years, he stands to make $65 million, significantly more than what Rice and Forte just got.
I'm in the (only slightly biased) camp that believes AP is the best running back in the league, hands down. Of course, due to his knee injury that's causing uncertainty about when he'll return in 2012, I now have to add the caveat "when healthy" to my statement.
The injury adds a ton of "ifs" to the debate of whether or not Baltimore and Chicago got better deals. What if AP comes back just as he was before the injury, but he doesn't come back until Week 6? What if Peterson plays from Week 1 but he's only about 80% of what he used to be? What if Forte and Rice suffer similar injuries last year? Who got the better deal if all three put up similar statistics? We won't know the answers to those questions for months, but we can certainly speculate now that all three running backs are set for the next few years.
So what would you rather have right now? Peterson's contract or one of the contracts that Ray Rice and Matt Forte just signed? Let us know in the poll and the comments.