Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shelled In

How is that for awful post title of the month? I'm referring, of course, to Sheldon Brown. He made it known recently that he wants a raise or he wants to be dealt. This somewhat caught me off guard. I knew Sheldon wasn't happy with his deal, but I hoped to get one more season out of him before push came to shove.


My hope was that he'd play this year and we'd get a feel for Jack Ikegwuonu before knowing what had to be done for the future. We could deal Sheldon and then make a move of our own, depending on what had to be done.

The Eagles weren't real thrilled with Sheldon's comments. They put out a statement that was very aggressive. Rather than do the normal "this is an internal issue", the team called him out publicly saying Brown's actions were "unfortunate and counter-productive". They also said he will not be traded. Wow. Line in the sand time.

Les Bowen has a good post up about the situation.


I have really mixed feelings on the issue. Sheldon is a class guy and good teammate. I love the way he tackles and plays aggressively. He also just turned 30 and has a total of 5 INTs in the last 3 years. He's not exactly a playmaker. I had concerns about whether he was losing a step. I know he didn't give up a TD pass last year, but that stat can be flawed. Domenik Hixon had him beat for an 85-yd bomb, but dropped the ball.

Is Sheldon underpaid? Yes. Did the Eagles treat him fairly? Not if you believe his account of the situation. However, that is looking at things from his perspective. Let's consider things from the team's perspective.

Let's say that they decide that Sheldon has been a good leader and player and deserves some more money. He's not a star player, but is above average. What do you do if Trent Cole wants a raise? He's our best defensive lineman. Todd Herremans was our best offensive lineman last year. Do you give him a raise? Sheldon was our 2nd best CB.

He is underpaid, but don't you open Pandora's Box if you give him the deal he wants? If he performed at a star level, you could make the argument. He's a notch below that. And that is the unfortunate part. You feel bad for saying no to the guy, but you have to be careful about setting a precedent.

It sounds like the Eagles have dug in their heels on this one and won't budge. I don't know how Sheldon will handle it. He's always been a stand-up guy, but a situation like this will bother him all year long. We know it won't make him drop INTs. He did that the last couple of years when the issue wasn't front and center. Heck, maybe Sheldon will go out and actually catch the ball. That could force the Eagles to re-think the situation or at least boost his trade value for the future.

The more immediate question is if the Eagles now go after a CB aggressively in the draft. I have given them CBs in a few mocks over the last several months. That had more to do with Sheldon getting older than any potential contract dispute. I think the team will take a CB if they really like the player, but I'm figuring they go for more of a mid-round guy at this point.


shlynch said...

I fail to see how giving a guy a raise 5 years after extending him opens a Pandora's box. If in 2011, Herremans and Cole have earned better deals, then yes, by all means, you will have to give them extensions.

Is that really such a horrible standard?

orangecrush007 said...

7.2 Million in 2004 after 2 years on the team is pretty darn good. I am not sure of the length of his rookie contract, but he was a 2nd round pick and couldn't have been making that much money.

Does anyone know the numbers on his rookie deal?

shlynch said...

Yes. His rookie deal ran through 2006. He made

But so what? I think he states his case well in Brookover's blog: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-eagles/BROWN_SAYS_OTHER_EAGLES_FEEL_THE_SAME_WAY.html

Bottom line, he played better than his salary, regardless of how fair it might have seemed in 2004. If you are paid like the 36th best CB (of guys who are not on their rookie deals and weren't taken at the top of the first round) then why are you playing harder and with more effort than the 36th best CB? What's the incentive? The incentive has to be that you will get more at some point in the future. The Eagles have taken that incentive away.

And so this is Brown's only recourse. And, as he points out (and Tommy points out indirectly), Patterson, Herremans and Cole have now seen pretty clearly what they will have to do when their turn comes.

shlynch said...

Sorry, I forgot to insert Brown's rookie deal numbers.

Contract, Signed 07/25/2002
Average Per Year: $635,704.00
Signing Bonus: $1,250,000.00

Contract Year 2002, Cap Number $475,000.00
Base Salary $225,000.00
Signing Bonus Prorat 250,000.00

Contract Year 2003, Cap Number $554,600.00
Base Salary $300,000.00
Signing Bonus Prorat $250,000.00
Workout Bonus $4,600.00

Contract Year 2004, Cap Number $634,300.00
Base Salary $380,000.00
Signing Bonus Prorat $250,000.00
Workout Bonus $4,300.00

Contract Year 2005, Cap Number $711,160.00
Base Salary $455,000.00 Signing Bonus Prorat $250,000.00
Workout Bonus $6,160.00

Contract Year 2006, Cap Number $801,160.00
Base Salary $545,000.00 Signing Bonus Prorat $250,000.00
Workout Bonus $6,160.00 Comment: Voidable

Tommy Lawlor said...

I guess the biggest lesson is that the Eagles idea of extending players early did not turn out to be the wisest course of action. Or maybe I should say that the extensions should have been shorter in length or contained a lot more incentive clauses.

@ Lynch...

Your comments make sense, but I guess the other thing to consider is that the team doesn't want to be dictated to by the player.

The Eagles must not be thrilled with Sheldon's level of play. Remember back in Feb or March of 2007...Jim Johnson said that Sheldon would be competing with William James for the RCB spot. Sheldon took that as an insult (understandably so). I thought JJ was trying to motivate Sheldon to play even better and to try to get the best out of BillyJim. It seemed to fail on both counts.

The Eagles could have added some incentive clauses that would have paid him a more money or given him a roster bonus or something like that. Instead, they chose to do nothing. Maybe they just don't value him all that much. Weird situation.

There are times when I really despise the business side of the NFL. This is one of them.

orangecrush007 said...

shlynch, you can't say so what to his contract running through 2006. Then wouldn't he be a restricted free agent after that? So he would have had to wait til 2008 - last year to make any money? The Eagles took a risk in giving him 7.2 million 4 years before his contract ended. If players are too stupid to realize that then they should learn it the hard way. Sheldon Brown isn't even that good. I always wind up sticking up for the Eagles, but come on. 7.2 million plus 2 million then 2.5 then 3. compared to 380 455 then 545k. Then a restricted free agent contract after that? Come on. Those numbers add up.

shlynch said...


"The Eagles must not be thrilled with Sheldon's level of play."

For me, this is the bottom line. So trade him already. Get what you can for him, and move on, so that both sides make out. I am sure the Eagles have tried already ... there where rumors earlier in the off-season that he could be packaged in a Boldin deal.

The only way to make sense of the whole thing is to realize that Brown gets good money in 2011 and 2012, money that he'd be happy with if it were his deal today. In fact, if they signed him to a similar deal in total with some up front money, this all goes away. Both sides must know that. Which means to me that the both sides know that Brown will probably never see 2011 and 2012. The Eagles just want to keep him around long enough to make sure they transition well to whoever the next generation is. They don't want to risk the defense on Ike and a guy who hasn't been drafted yet, but they surely hope that those guys will be better than Brown and fast.

If I were Brown, I'd want to go somewhere that I was affirmatively wanted as well. One bus ticket to Foxboro, please!


He would have been a UFA after that. Actually, his contract might have voided back to ending in 2005, it isn't clear what the void provision was. In either case, players are unrestricted after 4 years in the league.

"Sheldon Brown isn't even that good." Then let's trade him to some sucker team that will give us something for him rather than continue to start such a crappy player.

orangecrush007 said...

Here are Michael Lewis' numbers who didn't sign the extension offered at the same time as Sheldon :

$10 M signing bonus, terms still unknown
2007 595k
2008 605k
2009 1.9 M
2010 4.105 M
2011 5.695 M
2012 6.7 M

What exactly is Sheldon's contract?

Also I looked at Lito's numbers and they are good as long as he doesn't get hurt. He gets 10 M in 2010 as long as he doesnt get hurt - not gauranteed.

orangecrush007 said...

I never said Brown was "crappy" I said he isn't that good. And what I mean by that is he isn't a superstar. I have tons of respect for him, but these primadonna's take everything for granted. The Eagles said it right. They assumed a lot of risk in giving him 7.2 million. They could have let him take is 500k average per year for the next 3 years.

shlynch said...

It doesn't matter what the Eagles did in 2004. Sunk cost, ex ante analysis, and all that stuff applies. There are no longer ant strings attached to that money. That is the great mistake people make. They didn't buy the right to keep him from using all permitted means to try to get more. And that is what he will do. They just bought the right to control his rights for 9 years. And that they will do. But he can object, he can threaten to play half-ass, he can give long and brutally honest media interviews at any available opportunity. Enjoy the show. Tell me what the downside is for Sheldon Brown?

And please, $7.2 million for a SB is not assuming so much risk in the NFL that the player needs to continue to be licking his boss' shoes six years later. That's just revisionist history.

Mike Lewis flat out sucked in 2006. Plus safeties get paid much less than CBs. His situation couldn't be less comparable.

orangecrush007 said...

Lito Shepperd is only getting 10 million in 2010. Michael Lewis got that same amount in 2007. Looks like they get paid about the same amount of money. So I would have to disagree with you when you say they couldn't be less comparable.

shlynch said...

Lito Sheppard has never been a free agent. I am confused about what, if anything, your point is.

Cliff said...

This situation really sucks. I tried to create an analogy for myself to better understand Sheldon's thought process over on EMB, but it's tough because a couple million dollars a year salary is a lot different than my post-graduation expectations of $45,000 and some benefits... or even a job PERIOD...

Anyway... this situation sucks because Sheldon actually *deserves* a new contract. He's consistent. He plays every game. He's experienced. He tackles. I'm sure a lot of us fans would say that the most under-appreciated player on the defense that past several seasons has been Sheldon. He shouldn't have gone about this the way he did, but I can't blame him for this one.

Tommy Lawlor said...

@ Lynch...

I'm sure the Eagles have tried to trade Sheldon. That's probably why they kept setting up meetings with his agent only to postpone them. That was their way of stalling on the issue while trying to work out a deal.

I guess the compensation wasn't what they hoped for and they decided the smart play was to keep him around for 2009 and re-visit the situation next offseason.

I don't like letting problems linger, but the fact the Eagles made the public statement that they won't listen to offers sounds like this issue is not going to be resolved this season. I prefer to find a solution and move on. It seems doubtful that will happen.

shlynch said...

Yep. Fantasy outcome is Sheldon for Ocho. Even throw in Reggie. Character, predictability, cost control and stability for a franchise that needs it ... and excitement and personality for a franchise that needs it.

orangecrush007 said...

Excitement and personality? You miss last year's playoff run? I was plenty excited when I saw the Raiders holding a lead and then beating Tampa. Then I went out and bet the Eagles and they stomped the hell out of Dallas. Then they beat the Vikings with an incredible screen pass. Then it was on to the #1 seed Super Bowl champs and Assante picked off that ball and they won. Then they get their butts kicked in the first half and they come back and almost win. That was exciting.

And you other thing...personality I dont really care for. I just want them to win baby.

Adam said...

This sucks, that's all I'll say. Did Shawn Andrews complain as well? or is that just people talking out their asses?

Tommy Lawlor said...

Lynch is just referring to a more exciting personality. Of course we all thought the playoff run was exciting. We're just talking about the vibe of the team. Last year was a very workman-like bunch.

RE: Shawn

Les Bowen speculated about Shawn wanting a raise. Andrews hasn't said a word. He can't do that at this point.

There were rumblings last summer that he wanted more moola, but after missing the season he ruined any hope of a new deal.

Pitmanite said...

Shlynch: You write as if Sheldon and his agent were duped into this contract and that the Eagles took no risk. I'm not saying that I don't feel for Sheldon because I think he's a good player, but he and his agent should not have signed a 9 year deal taking him into his 30s. You can't sign for 9 years and hope that at some point the Eagles will be nice and renegotiate. He made a business decision to take the security only 2 years into his career. More importantly, the Eagles took a risk that he would be a good player over time. What about the deal they gave Reggie Brown? Can they now go back to him and say, "hey we thought you were going to be better than you were so can we have half that bonus money back that we gave you and cut your salary for this year in half?"

In a perfect world I'd like to see Sheldon get some more money, the Eagles shouldn't have to be forced to change their 2009 plans roster if they can't get fair value, just because he decided he's underpaid now. It would set a bad precedent because Trent, Todd, Patterson, and Andrews all signed these long deals so what if they all said, "hey we think we're better than our deal." It would be a mess. With that being said, it also has to do with what Tommy mentioned about if he was playing at a pro bowl level. For instance, if Trent keeps producing and Andrews keeps his head right, then I think they'll be more inclined because they could justify it more. But it sets them up for big problems to take a guy who has played well but not great, and redo his deal after he took the security early on.

My biggest beef with the Eagles has been their penchant for letting these things drag on. If you know you have no intention of giving a guy more money, then don't let it fester. We had TO, Lito, and now possibly this. I know it seems like I'm on both sides of the fence here, but that's the way it is with situations that aren't black and white. Moral of the story, is for the Eagles to stop this 8-10 year deal nonsense!!!!!

shlynch said...

"Moral of the story, is for the Eagles to stop this 8-10 year deal nonsense!!!!!"

That's my bottom line. I don't think anyone was duped, I think that the Eagles were naive if they thought that a player who outperformed the deal would not use this strategy at this point or earlier.

If the team does want 8-10 year deals, understand how the game plays out and don't act so surprised and hurt that this is how it goes down. Because it will happen again with Patterson and with Cole and with Herremans and with anyone else who gets such a deal and performs well unless you reconsider how you anticipate and address this stage; right now, the strategy is probably counterproductive.

jmercado said...

Ha, I guess we were arguing the same thing. I can really see both sides here on this argument. I just don't think it's prudent for either side to lock into such a long deal and not expect it to be a potential problem.