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Opinion: Even closer look shows why backs like Thomas struggle to cash in

No doubt, the Pierre Thomas contract talks are the biggest topic of discussion in Who Dat Nation as of late. Yesterday, Pat Kirwan wrote what I deem to be a pretty smart piece for putting things in perspective and explaining the difficulty of present-day running backs, like our very own Pierre, to land huge contracts. In the article, Kirwan details several factors that get taken into account when figuring how much an NFL running back is worth, all of which makes perfect sense. But I'm not convinced it's that simple. 

Yesterday, we learned that the initial offer made to Pierre by the Saints was a four-year, $11 million deal, unacceptable to Thomas and his agent. Kirwan, however, believes differently...

Thomas...should be happy to get a four-year deal worth $8 million with $1.7 million up front and the rest in unguaranteed salaries worth $6.1 million and workout bonuses totaling $200,000 over four years.    

...and even came up with this handy-dandy table that compares running backs similar to Thomas and uses this to get his point across that Pierre's contract will probably not be as large as he and his agent are hoping or wanting it to be. 


All of this is completely logical. Pierre probably isn't worth as much as he would like to be, especially given the way the Sean Payton and the Saints like to spread the ball around. But Kirwan seems to have left our one major factor. I've come up with my own, simple table that, unfortunately, throws all of Kirwan's brilliant logic out the window and may very well be the cause of contract delays:

Player Team Entry point 2009 touches Yards from scrimmage TDs 2010 salary
Pierre Thomas Saints Undrafted 186 1,095 8 $1.68M tendered
Reggie Bush Saints First-round in 2006 117 725 8 $8M

That's right, I'm going there. Thomas has produced significantly more than his colleague, Reggie Bush, yet would make significantly less money in 2010. Quite the discrepancy. So what is the cause for this obvious discrepancy? Entry point, or draft position, of course. Stupid? Absolutely. Fair? Absolutely not. But the rookie salary wage is another argument for another day. Or is it?

The point is this: How can anyone expect Thomas and his agent to "settle" on a salary average to his production around the league when the guy sharing the locker next to him doesn't seem to play by the same rules. This is not a knock on Reggie; he's done nothing wrong here. But as long as there are players in the league getting paid sums more proportionate to their draft position and not so much to their production, all while eating up a teams financial resources that could better be used on players more deserving, the NFL's salary structure will never be truly fair and guys like Pierre have reason to negotiate for more. Especially when they're on the same team. 

So what do you think? Am I way off? Should it and will it ever change? When will the Saints get a deal done with Pierre? And how do we get Reggie to give up some of his salary to help keep Pierre happy?