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Non-QBs Knocking on $100 Million Door

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Posted: By SEAN JENSEN,AOL Filed Under: NFLS ports Commentary The top echelon of the NFL’s salary chain is reserved exclusively for quarterbacks. While their deals are loaded with currency as legit as Monopoly money, the NFL’s $100 million men are ...

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Old 08-05-2007, 07:02 PM   #1
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Cool Non-QBs Knocking on $100 Million Door

Posted: By SEAN JENSEN,AOL
Filed Under: NFLS
ports Commentary


The top echelon of the NFL’s salary chain is reserved exclusively for quarterbacks. While their deals are loaded with currency as legit as Monopoly money, the NFL’s $100 million men are Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Peyton Manning is $2 million shy of the century mark, but he isn’t complaining since his contract is better than everyone in the NFL not named Michael Vick.

At some point, rookie receiver Calvin Johnson likely will sign a six-year contract that tops the deal of last year’s No. 2 pick, running back Reggie Bush, whose deal could be worth $54 million and included $26 million in guarantees.

The San Francisco 49ers (Clements), the Indianapolis Colts (Freeney), the New Orleans Saints (Bush), the Cleveland Browns (Thomas), and, eventually, the Detroit Lions (Johnson) will set the market for the premium positions most likely to produce the league’s first $100 million man that doesn’t play quarterback.

Here is a look at some of the prime candidates, in alphabetical order:

Jammal Brown
Team: New Orleans Saints
Position: Left tackle
NFL experience: 3rd
Pro Bowls: 1
Current deal: The 13th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Brown is in the third of a five-year, $11 million contract that includes $8.5 million in guarantees.
Pros/ cons: He already has established himself as one of the league’s best, even making the All-Pro team last year. He is huge, tough and athletic, and he’s unique in that he has excelled at both right and left tackle in the NFL. Although he has started every game he’s played in the league, Brown has missed four games, and he had a domestic abuse charge dropped earlier this year.


Reggie Bush
Team: New Orleans Saints
Position: Running back
NFL experience: 2nd
Pro Bowls: 0
Current deal: The second pick in the 2006 draft, Bush is in the second of a six-year, $52.5 million contract that includes $26.3 million in guarantees.
Pros/ cons: The former Heisman Trophy winner is a dynamic playmaker, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. One of the fastest players in the league, Bush can provide a spark as a returner, receiver and running back. But he isn’t a workhorse, and running back is the only skill position that teams have been unwilling to heavily invest in. Bush had a solid rookie season. But if he can fulfill the potential he flashed at USC, then Bush could break the bank and be paid as a playmaker, not a running back.


Larry Fitzgerald
Team: Arizona Cardinals
Position: Wide receiver
NFL experience: 4th
Pro Bowls: 1
Current deal: The third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Fitzgerald is in the fourth of a six-year deal worth up to $60 million, including $20 million in guarantees.
Pros/cons: Has 230 catches for 3,135 yards and 24 touchdowns in three seasons. But he needs to have a huge 2007, especially after missing three games last year and not topping the requisite 1,000 yards expected of top-flight receivers. Fitzgerald is the ideal star player: he’s naturally gifted and a hard worker, and he is a good representative for the Cardinals and the NFL. Unfortunately, he plays for the Cardinals, who have been unwilling to substantially pay anyone. They might not, however, have a choice, given their investment in a quarterback (Matt Leinart in 2006) and a sparkling new stadium.

DeAngelo Hall
Team: Atlanta Falcons
Position: Cornerback
NFL experience: 4th
Pro Bowls: 2
Current deal: The eighth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Hall is in the fourth of a five-year, $25 million deal that includes at least $12 million in guarantees.
Pros/ cons: Talented cornerback who has 12 picks in three NFL seasons. Although he had some ups-and-downs last season, Hall could cash in because he is a traditional cover corner. So far, though, he isn’t challenging Champ Bailey as the league’s top shutdown cornerback. Hall has said he wanted to play out his deal and test the market. But if Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who obviously has no problem spending money (see Vick deal), offers him a sizeable contract, Hall should consider taking it and not overvaluing his worth.

Marcus McNeill
Team: San Diego Chargers
Position: Left tackle
NFL experience: 2nd
Pro Bowls: 1
Current deal: A second-round pick (50th overall), McNeill is in the second of a four-year, $3.51 million contract that includes $1.9 million guaranteed.
Pros/ cons: McNeill became only the third offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and he overcame a back ailment, which dropped him from high in the first round, to start all 16 games. At 6-7, 336 pounds, he is massive, but he also is quite athletic. If he plays like he did in 2006, the Chargers may be wise to proactively sign him to a long-term deal, given the importance of his position. Not only does McNeill help LaDainian Tomlinson, he also protects quarterback Philip Rivers, the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft. With that said, will the Chargers have enough room for all those hefty contracts? In addition, the pay for tackles has slowed in recent seasons, and McNeill could fall just short of the $100 million mark.

Shawn Merriman
Team: San Diego Chargers
Position: Outside linebacker
NFL experience: 3rd
Pro Bowls: 2
Current deal: The 12th pick in the 2005 draft, Merriman is in the third of a five-year, $15.7 million contract that includes $9 million in guarantees.
Pros/ cons: The 2005 NFL Rookie of the Year, Merriman is one of the league’s top five defensive players, possessing an unrivaled combination of size (6-4, 272) and speed (4.61 in the 40-yard dash). In two seasons, he already has racked up 27 sacks and forced six fumbles. Merriman is the ideal fit for the Chargers’ 3-4 defense, capable of rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. But was his steroid suspension last season a reflection of his character or an isolated incident?

Julius Peppers
Team: Carolina Panthers
Position: Defensive end
NFL experience: 6th
Pro Bowls: 3
Current deal: The second pick in the 2002 draft, Peppers is in the sixth of a seven-year, $20.9 million contract that included $13.15 million in guarantees. The deal was restructured in 2006.
Pros/ cons: Former basketball player at North Carolina, Peppers showcases his freakish athleticism with his sacks (53.5), his forced fumbles (16), blocked kicks (five) and interceptions (three). Not surprisingly, he’s even scored two touchdowns. Peppers is homegrown, and he doesn’t draw negative attention to himself. But if his deal comes imminently -- there are rumors that he will get $86 million -- Peppers may not break the $100 million mark.

Will Smith
Team: New Orleans Saints
Position: Defensive end
NFL experience: 4th
Pro Bowls: 1
Current deal: The 18th pick in the 2004 NFL draft, Smith is in the fourth of a five-year, $9.6 million contract that included $6 million in guarantees.
Pros/ cons: Smith has improved his sack total every season, tallying 10.5 in 2007, when he made his first Pro Bowl team. Knows how to use his hands and is explosive off the edge. But his chances of landing such a monstrous deal are pretty remote, especially since the Saints just rewarded defensive end Charles Grant with a seven-year, $63 million contract that included $20 million in guarantees. The Saints have other players who are going to need new deals in the coming years, and Smith may have to go elsewhere to cash in.


Terrell Suggs
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Position: Outside linebacker
NFL experience: 5th
Pro Bowls: 2
Current deal: The 10th pick in the 2003 draft, Suggs is in the fifth and final year of a contract worth $10.09 million.
Pros/ cons: How much do the Ravens like Suggs? So much that they didn’t even try to retain the versatile and talented Adalius Thomas, a two-time Pro Bowl player, this offseason. The Ravens knew they’d have to pay Suggs, who has never missed a game and has 40 career sacks, and the club wasn’t willing to come close to matching the five-year, $35 million contract the New England Patriots gave Thomas. Instead, they’ll use that money on Suggs, who has been in the mighty shadow of a special defense that boasts two Defensive Player of the Years (Ray Lewis and Ed Reed). But the Ravens recognize the importance of Suggs, who only turns 25 in October.

Roy Williams
Team: Detroit Lions
Position: Wide receiver
NFL experience: 4th
Pro Bowls: 1
Current deal: The seventh pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Williams is in the fourth of a six-year, $27 million contract that included $11.16 million in guarantees.
Pros/ cons: His yardage totals weren’t overwhelming in his first two seasons. But he has scored at least seven touchdowns in each of his three NFL seasons. Williams is 6-3, has high-end speed and appears to have taken his game to a higher level last season, when he caught 82 passes for 1,310 yards. Given the Lions’ struggles to draft at the position, they probably won’t let him walk, overwhelmed by the prospect of tagging him up with Calvin Johnson to give Detroit arguably the league’s top duo. Then again, given their investment in Johnson, will they want to invest that money elsewhere?

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