Goodell: A Whack-A-Mole who makes eight figures

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Goodell: A Whack-A-Mole who makes eight figures

On the one hand, Roger Goodell recusing himself from the New Orleans Bounty Dance judging panel is good thing.

On the other, replacing himself with his former boss, Paul Tagliabue, is not.

On the third hand, maybe this is a step toward getting Goodell out of the prosecutorjudgejuryappeals court business, which is a good thing.

And on the fourth, maybe its also a sign that commissioners should either be paid by both players and owners so impartiality has a chance to flourish and absurd hatefest impasses can be minimized.

Nahhh. Thatll never work.

But it should. Either that, or the commissioners job should be temped out to some hiring hall that also furnishes court reporters, actuaries and consultants. I mean, in the last few years . . . well, lockouts, actually . . . weve seen through the veil and now understand that commissioners get paid not to oversee the game but to take sandwich orders from the owners and kick the players union in the groin on command.

Thats why they get booed every time they pop up in public, a festival a Whack-A-Mole that gets the mole paid in eight figures every year. And they get the job so that some owner doesnt have to be the mole. That alone is worth 10 extra large a year.

But you can see we already are exceeding our jurisdiction on the news that Goodell has decided to get off the HMS Bounty and concentrate on things that dont make him look so . . . well, relentlessly vindictive, high-handed and bullying. I mean, its nice work if you can get it, but it wears on a fella after awhile.

Goodell became a national villain over the last year or so, which was not part of the master plan when he took the job. He came in, punished a few miscreant players, and everyone cheered. Then he became the face of the lockout, and fewer people cheered. Then he got stuck neck-deep in the ongoing hilarity that is Louisiana politics, football style, and suddenly he looked like the hall monitor whose shorts ride up periodically so he takes it out on the students.

This, even at his magnificent salary and benefits, is not what he signed up for. And while hell still have to be the public mean guy so that Bob Kraft can go on pretending to be kindly old Uncle Bobby, some issues become a cavalcade of diminishing returns.

So, confronted by the knowledge that he was becoming caricatured as what he essentially is the owners beat cop, with all the objectivity of a Chicago ward-heeler he decided to pass this particular cup of merlot-gone-vinegar to Tagliabue, who used to be commissioner when being the commissioner meant a lot more invisibility.

Tagliabue was indeed the Bowie Kuhn of football, someone who tried to keep the demands of the job from lapping too forcefully at the door of his summer house. The commissioners job at the time was in many ways not much more powerful than being an owners cabana boy, and Tagliabue wasnt really asked to address the tougher questions of the day. He was a head, with someone elses figure.

But Goodells ascension meant more out-front work, more hands-on adjudications, more kicking the union into line, that sort of thing. He looked good doing it, and people largely approved.

The funny thing about being the front man, though, is that the sins of the invisible superiors eventually start becoming part of the front mans wardrobe, and then believabilitycredibilitysupport starts to rust and flake off. The New Orleans thing had become too much a drain on Goodells other work on behalf of his superiors, and people were beginning to sense that there was something inherently wrong with the arresting officer also being the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

So he passed that on to the guy he used to work for, and ultimately Tagliabue will get a nice little retainer for doing what Goodell would have done anyway. The process is still no more neutral than it was before, but at least Goodell doesnt end up looking quite so bad.

Until the next stupid thing one of his bosses clients does. Thats the thing about the job. Theyre not paying that kind of jack for any old P.R. work; and when the P.R. isnt going quite as good as you like, you either change the lineup, or you really change the lineup.

So think of Tagliabue in this instance as Colin Kaepernick. Hes getting a play, not the starting quarterback job. You still get the 49ers, for good or ill, but its something to change the mood a little.

Raiders finalize five-year contract extension with Derek Carr

Raiders finalize five-year contract extension with Derek Carr

Derek Carr is now the NFL's highest paid player. The Raiders quarterback agreed on terms of a five-year, $125 million contract extension a source confirmed on Thursday morning, keeping the franchise's public face in silver and black through the 2022 season. 

Carr confirmed the agreement on Twitter early Thursday. 

"Now it's done!" Carr wrote. "From the jump I've wanted to be a Raider 4 life. One step closer to that! Blessed!!! Business done! Let's just play now!!!"

Carr was set to make a $977,515 base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract. Carr's raise is significant, and underscores his value to the franchise. Carr's $125 million extension includes $70 million in guaranteed money and $40 million fully guaranteed at signing -- the portion not fully guaranteed is guaranteed for injury -- a source said. The deal features $25 million in the first year -- there's a $12.5 million signing bonus -- with $67.5 million over the first three years, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.  

Carr's deal resets the quarterback market -- Matthew Stafford may do so again soon -- with an annual value above Andrew Luck's previous record extension. The Colts quarterback signed a five-year, $122.9 million extension last year, which Carr has now exceeded. 

The complete contract structure is not yet known, but a somewhat delayed payout plan is expected due to two key factors. The largest is Carr's desire to see other star Raiders receive extensions, and his deal gives the team some flexibility to keep important players in house. The Raiders will also move to Las Vegas by 2020 at the latest, where there is no state tax. California residents max out at a 13.3-percent tax rate, meaning his money will be worth more later in the deal.  

The 26-year old's ultimate goal was to maximize earnings without handcuffing the organization, and that's setting up well. His deal will help the Raiders that regard, though the team has also budgeted to extend several members of their young core. They have financial flexibility in future seasons and upfront salary cap space, though productive drafts are required to remain competitive as the cash gets gobbled by Carr and others in coming years.

The Raiders were always confident the Carr extension would get done this offseason, and the deal was finalized well before the quarterback's self-imposed training camp deadline. Carr's camp had discussed parameters of an extension months ago, but talks heated up in the last few weeks and ended up with an agreement that locks Carr down. 

The Raiders also hope to extend two more members of a star-studded 2014 draft class. Right guard Gabe Jackson is next in line, and could get a new deal this offseason and edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a massive contract at some point in the near future. Jackson's entering a contract year, but the team exercised a fifth-year option that creates more time to get a Mack deal done. Amari Cooper has some time under his rookie deal -- it could last through the 2019 season -- but the Raiders want to pair him with Carr for several seasons. 

Carr, Raiders both win with soon-to-be mega-deal done at right time

Carr, Raiders both win with soon-to-be mega-deal done at right time

If Derek Carr gets his $25 million deal from the Oakland Raiders and becomes the richest quarterback in National Football League history, the Raiders will have gotten a bargain.
 
Unless he gets hurt.
 
Or unless he turns lousy.
 
Or unless the NFL’s defensive coordinators decipher a way to strip him of his powers and render him McCown-tastic.
 
Or unless football happens in a hundred other ways, because of all the sports ever devised by wealthy man to amuse sedentary man, football taught cruelty to the landmine discus.
 
But the same can be said for any football player at any salary. Carr, on the other hand, is a qualified practitioner at a sport that has very few of them – maybe 10 if you’re looking at football, 119 if you’re trying to tot up all the quarterbacks who got contracts so Colin Kaepernick couldn’t.
 
That means he is a rare commodity, and the Raiders did the right thing by tying him up. The alternative, you see, is Kirk Cousins and the Washington Supreme Court-Mandated Native-American Heads.
 
Cousins was not signed when the Washingtons could have gotten him at a high but still reasonable rate, and now he is one year away from being franchised a third time at the hilarious figure of $34.47 million per year.
 
The lesson is clear. Nothing pays like procrastination, and by waiting to give Cousins what they knew they’d have to give him eventually for choosing him over Robert Griffin III, the Battling Snyders will pay through both nostrils, ears, eye sockets and mouth to keep him.
 
By signing Carr now, the Raiders have as much cost certainty as they can have at the position, and all they have to do now is (a) keep him stocked with supporting players and (b) keep him safe from opposing ones.
 
This isn’t easy, of course; most quarterbacks eventually end up in a fiery crash in Turn Two, and their ability to escape the mangled wreckage is the only thing keeping them from becoming part of the mangled wreckage.
 
So yeah, luck. Lots of luck.
 
On the other hand, the Raiders could have guaranteed that they would have had to overpay by a factor of 1.5 or maybe more by not signing him now, or they could have saved millions more by losing him entirely, which would have been just the gift for the discerning Las Vegas ticket holder who wanted an excuse not to buy tickets.
 
Essentially, Carr played the system brilliantly, and good for him since under most circumstances the system plays the players. Football players have a short enough career, and a shorter than average quality of life, so the rule of thumb should always be getting everything available and as much guaranteed as possible.
 
In fact, were I Derek Carr, I’d ask for ALL the money to be guaranteed just to set a standard for those who come behind me.
 
But if he’s happy – and let’s wait to see how much of this deal is actually guaranteed and how much is placed on a rug that will be pulled out from beneath him – and the Raiders are happy – and why wouldn’t they be? – then there’s nobody to complain, now, is there?
 
Now the Raiders of old would have screwed this up, and somehow Carr would have done so as well. But this team hasn’t done anything regally boneheaded since . . . well, trying to go to Los Angeles . . . or maybe hiring Dennis Allen . . . or . . . 
 
Oh, never mind. The point is, Carr was done at the right time, at the right number, for the right reasons, and both sides should be delighted.
 
And in nine or twelve or seventeen days when Matthew Stafford gets a deal that makes him a dollar more than Derek Carr . . . well, we’ll let the amateur accountants who think NFL contracts define players sort out that level of idiocy.