Richard Sherman: If NFL players want NBA-sized contracts, we have to strike

Major League Baseball players have been signing mega-deals for years – Alex Rodriguez’s then-unheard-of 10-year, $252 million contract was signed more than 16 years ago – and since NBA free-agency opened earlier this month, we’ve seen players get big money to move and really big money to stay.

And NFL players, as usual, have noticed.

Last month, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension; the $25 million per year average is the highest the NFL has ever seen. But as it is in nearly every NFL contract, the devil is in the details: only 56 percent of that, or $70.2 million, is guaranteed. Every penny of MLB and NBA contracts is guaranteed.

At Wednesday’s ESPY Awards, Seattle CB Richard Sherman said NFL players have to be willing to strike for better contracts. (AP)

There are still a few years until the NFL collective bargaining agreement expires, when the league and NFL Players Association will hammer out a new one. Last time, in 2011, the owners locked the players out.

But speaking on the ESPYs red carpet on Wednesday night, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said what needs to be said when it comes to NFL contracts and the next CBA: if players want more long-term, they have to sacrifice short-term. All of them.

“If we want as the NFL, as a union, to get anything done, players have to be willing to strike,” Sherman said. “That’s the thing that guys need to 100 percent realize.

“You’re going to have to miss games, you’re going to have to lose some money if you’re willing to make the point, because that’s how MLB and NBA got it done. They missed games, they struck, they flexed every bit of power they had, and it was awesome. It worked out for them.”

He’s right. Though some NFL owners seem to believe otherwise, the players are the game. The players are the reason the NFL made $14 billion in revenue in 2016. The players should be making more, and more importantly, their contracts should be guaranteed.

Former Jacksonville/Denver/Washington defensive tackle Terrance Knighton had a series of tweets recently discussing the discrepancy between NBA and NFL contracts, writing that five-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady should make more than Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers should be making more than James Harden, who signed a mega-deal with the Houston Rockets.

One of the things that has been argued – and which was noted to Knighton – is that NBA rosters are 15 players, while NFL rosters carry 53. But Knighton didn’t want to hear it.

“Last year NFL took in 13 Billion in revenue. The NBA 4.8 Billion. Miss me (with) that 53 vs. 15 man roster crap,” he tweeted.

Knighton didn’t play last season. It would be nice to see him use his passion to help his fellow players and become part of the NFLPA, helping them fight for a bigger piece of the revenue pie and better long-term health care, among other things. Sherman is the Seahawks’ lead NFLPA player representative.

The current NFL CBA expires in 2020.