Georgia Great Todd Gurley Has Mega Contract — But NFL Contracts Still Lag Far Behind NBA And MLB

Georgia Great Todd Gurley Has Mega Contract — But NFL Contracts Still Lag Far Behind NBA And MLB

Dawgs In The NFL

Georgia Great Todd Gurley Has Mega Contract — But NFL Contracts Still Lag Far Behind NBA And MLB


Former Georgia great Todd Gurley became the latest running back to reset the market with his four-year, $60 million extension from the Los Angeles Rams.

Previous to his signing, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times’ Gary Klein, Los Angeles Gurley said NFL players are “mad” about NBA contracts.

Gurley had previously told TMZ that for NFL players to get guaranteed contracts, players would have to hold out in a lockout. He laughed about the comment to Klein but confirmed he would like more money.

“Us NFL players, we’re just mad about NBA contracts right now, that’s all,” Gurley said. “I just want like $80 million. Those guys are getting like $150 [million]. It’s crazy. It’s insane.”

Our thoughts turned to why there is such a variance in player salaries between the NFL, the nation’s most popular professional sport, and the NBA and MLB. Although Gurley didn’t get the $80 million he thought he deserved, he has a point when comparing NFL salaries to basketball and baseball. In basketball, Paul George recently signed for $137 million with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chris Paul got $160 million from the Houston Rockets, players similar to Gurley’s status. In baseball, Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout of the hometown Dodgers and Angels, will earn $35.5 million and $34 million in 2018, respectively.

The Rams total salary expense in 2018 will be approximately $179 million. The hometown Dodgers 2018 salary hit is approximately $194 million, which includes $5 million of minor league salaries and $30 million of retained (no longer active with the team) salaries. The Los Angeles Lakers will spend $101 million on salaries this season.

Looking at the economics, the Lakers, Dodgers and Angels can afford to pay their players more for several reasons.

• The Dodgers will play in front of nearly 4 million fans over 81 games in Dodger Stadium this year. That equates to a staggering $190 million in ticket receipts. The Lakers home attendance was 776,000 over 41 games, generating $78 million in revenue. The Rams had 8 home games which attracted 507,000 paying customers and about $39 million in revenue.

• The Rams have an active roster of 53 players. The Dodgers and Angels roster is set at 25. The Lakers roster is 16 and will have a payroll in 2018 totaling $101 million. The Dodgers nearly have the same overall payroll but the Rams have to spread it out over twice the amount of players. The Lakers only have 1/3 the employees….higher labor headcount with similar resources leads to lower average salaries.

• The Dodgers had total team revenues of $522 million last season, including $385 million of network and regional sports networks (RSN) revenue. The Lakers had $371 million, which includes $240 million of RSN revenue, slightly more than the Rams’ $370 million (which includes $240 million of national network revenues and no RSN revenue) team revenues. Much like the SEC has an ownership interest in the SEC Network, MLB and the NBA teams have tapped the riches of the RSN to fuel their business models.

Finally, just the nature of the NFL game will keep the length of contracts to fewer years and guaranteed contracts and income well below the NBA and MLB levels. It remains a violent game and takes a toll on the body. The never ending supply of college players filling the pipeline for NFL teams keeps the pressure on wages and veteran players.

The NFL may dominate the television ratings and have the overall highest revenues, but NBA and MLB players will remain the nation’s highest paid team sports athletes.

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