Rams need to show Bulger respect in contract talks
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
We interrupt the impending demise of your Cardinal baseball season for this news flash: The St. Louis Rams' management still doesn't get it.
The Rams open training camp Friday morning, and all over the city, they have sprinkled marketing billboards that essentially asks you to believe in them. But what exactly are we supposed to believe when the biggest news of the offseason and the most significant story leading into camp is the possibility that management is about to put the economic squeeze on Marc Bulger?
A few weeks ago, the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback made headlines when he told a national radio show that a training-camp holdout wasn't out of the realm of possibility. In typical Bulger fashion, it wasn't an angry, brash diatribe. He simply answered someone's question, then within 24 hours toned down the saber-rattling negotiating rhetoric. But if you know anything about the soft-spoken Bulger, that was the equivalent of a "I'm mad as hell and won't take it anymore" manifesto.
Bulger doesn't yell. He doesn't scream. But when he does talk, and the words have an angry edge to them, his words carry weight. Remember last year when he blasted unnamed teammates for being unprofessional?
Everyone in that Rams locker room knew who Bulger was talking about, and he got everyone's attention, and in the process those slacker attitudes changed.
There isn't any showy fire-and-brimstone bravado with Bulger, but there is a definite simmering competitive fire that shouldn't be underestimated by anyone, particularly Rams management.
He has spent his entire NFL career being occasionally disrespected, unappreciated and underpaid, even as he has become one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. So now with a year left on Bulger's contract, it's time for the disrespect to end and the appreciation to begin.
In pro sports, respect and appreciation are shown on payday.
In 2006, Marc Bulger ($5.12 million in guaranteed money) was the eighth highest-paid player on the Rams roster, behind five defensive players (Will Witherspoon, $11 million; Leonard Little, $10 million; Cory Chavious, $6.5 million; Pisa Tinoisamoa, $6.5 million; and La'Roi Glover, $5.5 million) and two offensive players (Alex Barron, $5.26 million; and Torry Holt, $5.2 million).
The business of professional football is one of constant change. So what seemed like a good deal four years ago no longer holds much value. So you need to constantly negotiate in real time, rather than waste too much idle chatter clinging to comparisons with two- or three-year-old deals.
Pro sports contracts are a lot like hi-tech gizmos and gadgets when you think about it, almost obsolete before the ink is dry. So while it might seem to make sense to use New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees as the benchmark for a contract ($22 million in guaranteed money in the first year of the deal last year), the contract landscape has been altered greatly over the past few months when you consider that the Detroit Lions just gave defensive tackle Cory Redding (who has never made the Pro Bowl) $16 million in guaranteed money, and the Indianapolis Colts forked over $37.72 million in guaranteed money to Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Among NFL quarterbacks, Bulger was the 14th highest-paid player last year, and he could drop even lower this year, even though he is widely regarded as one of the five or six best quarterbacks in the league. No one is saying he's Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or even Carson Palmer, but he is the best of the next tier and that ought to be reflected in his contract. Yet right now, with his incredible silence on the negotiation front, Rams vice president Jay Zygmunt is insulting Bulger, and the quarterback doesn't deserve the insult.
The Rams have one of the best offenses in the NFL with Bulger at the control. With a defense that still has a ton of question marks, if the Rams are going to improve dramatically, it will have to be with a high-octane offense leading the way.
They don't need any needless distractions. They don't need any potential training camp disruptions. Messing around with Bulger is bad business.
Didn't they tell us the madness was supposed to have ended a year ago?
Don't tell me it's about to start again.
Re: Rams need to show Bulger respect in contract talks
Mr. Burwell is clearly a pessimist. WHile we are all cleary waiting on baited breath for his to get done, I think this out look paints a far to bleak picture.
IT WILL GET DONE! RE-FREAKIN-LAX!!