Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Aug 2005

Pinkston Out for Year?

Let the injuries commence. Not a good day in the NFC East, where Pro Football Talk is reporting that Pinkston is done for the year with a torn Achilles tendon. The linked article from the Eagles' website just says he got hurt today along with -- surprise! -- Correll Buckhalter. Can't spell Buckhalter without "ACL." Lest Philly's rivals get excited, rookie Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears has also suffered a knee injury today and Plaxico Burress has a strained hip flexor. Maybe I should see if Will can start his column a week early...

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Aug 2005

41 comments, Last at 09 Aug 2005, 2:09pm by MDS


by Kaveman (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:06pm

And the first non-minor injury on the Broncos is... Courtney Brown.

What is this, bad karma for the guy?

by Ray (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:42pm

Buckhalter's just got a bruise that will keep him out a couple of days. He's not done yet! We'll see what the loss of Pinkston means. Maybe Greg Lewis will be able to step up and fill the role.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 6:10pm

Obviously, Pinkston is not the linchpin of the Eagles offense, and even if Buckhalter's injury is more serious than he admits, it's not as if the Eagles don't know how to deal with losing him.

Still, these are not positions at which the Eagles have a lot of veteran depth, either. Since it seems like the Patriots have already taken every mediocre veteran WR free agent before their camp, who's left for the Eagles to pick up?

by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 6:39pm

Vet WRs still left:

Curtis Conway and Tai Streets are the best 2 left. If the Eagles want to play with fire Koren Robinson would not mind getting a job I think.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 6:42pm

See PFP Mailbag for comment about fantasy projections and Pinkston injury.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 7:04pm

AP wire update: Pinkston's gone for the season. Buckhalter has a bone bruise.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 7:36pm

Koren Robinson is an interesting possibility. I think anyone who signed him would want to go the one-year, incentive-laden route for sure - if he produces and stays clean you've got a steal, otherwise get rid of him for almost nothing.

by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 8:04pm

I'm one of the few Eagles fans who kind of likes Pinkston, who is pretty good as a deep threat #2, but I'm really excited to see what Greg Lewis can do as a starter. Lewis was the guy who made big catch after big catch after TO went down last year. He's just as good on deep balls and better at all the other things than Pinkston. I was excited to see Lewis emerge this year anyway, now he creeps onto the bottom of my draft board.

This does leave the Eagle's depth in pretty poor shape, as the #4 currently stands as either would-have-otherwise-been-cut Billy McMullen, a practice-squad player, or an undrafted rookie.

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 8:20pm

On the radio they said TO was held out of practice today with a "swollen groin". What the hell is that?

Nothing better than football injury terminology.

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 8:36pm

On the radio they said TO was held out of practice today with a “swollen groin". What the hell is that?

I also heard it called "inflamed." Sounds like a soft-tissue injury. There are a fair number of muscles and ligaments that attach in that general area; maybe they haven't isolated which one it is, or maybe they just ain't tellin'.

Most news sources I've seen managed to agree on the right side, although at least one called it the left. Whichever it is, today's one of those days I'm not envying the big money T.O. gets to play.

by pm (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 11:02pm

I think T.O. might have more leverage now if he holdouts the rest of the year. No way the Eagles want Lewis, Brown, and McMullen starting.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 3:26am

T.O. is not going to hold out. Period. By doing so he would forgo several million dollars, including what the Eagles would recoup from the signing bonus he received last year, at what really is an advanced age for playing professional football. He would have exactly zero chance of ever getting that money back from the Eagles, or even if it is assumed that he could force the Eagles into a trade. T.O.'s options are to either earn many millions of dollars under his current contract, or trying to do so by becoming an Amway representative. What will he choose?

It is possible he is dumb enough to simply refuse to exert a professional effort, out of spite, and thus damage the Eagles' chances this year. If this happens, he will be cut loose eventually, and his next contarct will be less attractive than the one he has now.

by WIP listener (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 10:15am

BooHoo, this is the end of the world! The season is a wash!

by Rick "32_Footsteps" Healey (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 1:12pm

"If the Eagles want to play with fire..."

They signed TO, didn't they? Everyone knew what would eventually happen, and they pulled that trigger.

by Ronnie Lott (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 4:52pm

They are all pussies.

by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 5:31pm

And then God said, "May all the WRs drafted by Philadelphia generally suck, and the ones that don't will fail at inopportune times."

I should have known this would happen. Last year, our #2 RB goes down in the preseason. This year, our #2 WR goes down in training camp. And the depth at WR is unchanged from last year, which means there is very little, and the starters weren't great to begin with.

McNabb's improvement over the last year may be a testament to how much all his wide recievers other than TO suck. Imagine how Peyton would have done with a recieving corps consisting of Westbrook, Pinkston, James Thrash, Duce Staley, and Freddie Mitchell. That's who McNabb was throwing to all year in 2003.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 9:01pm

Hey #16 see #13

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 9:46pm

By doing so he would forgo several million dollars, including what the Eagles would recoup from the signing bonus he received last year

According to a Philly beat writer on ESPN radio a few days ago, Owens didn't get a signing bonus. As in nothing pro-rated over the length of his contract. He got a roster bonus last year that raised his salary to $8.5 million and gets a roster bonus next year that raises his salary for 2006-2007 to the same range. This season he is playing for roughly $3.5 million. If the Eagles cut Terrell Owens after this season, they don't take any cap hit at all. The agent before Rosenhaus really sucked, as in malpractice-level terrible.

by NF (not verified) :: Sat, 08/06/2005 - 10:28pm

I realize that even with Pinkston out they'll probably make the NFC Championship again, but I still wish that McNabb had a merely decent reciever corp for the last 4 years.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 2:49pm

TO's previous agent did nothing wrong. He negotiated a contract for Owens that will net TO ~$12.66 MM in the two years he is guaranteed to play for the Eagles.

Now the following can happen in 2005-6: Either TO plays well or he doesn't, and either the Eagles exercise the secondary bonuses to extend the contract through 2006 or they don't. That would seem to cover all possibilities except for nuclear holocaust and alien invasion.

(1) TO plays well and the Eagles pick up the option. Then TO gets another $7.5 MM in cash and a low salary ($770K) for 2006. Total 3-year value: ~$21MM, which is very just compensation for a premiere WR. Randy Moss got more in the first 3 years of his latest contract, but that's skewed by the signing bonus a team is willing to give a 24-year old vs. what they are willing to give a 31-year old. Marvin Harrison could get more in the first 3 years of his latest contract, but it seems to be structured such that it will be re-negotiated year-to-year. The original numbers are likely works of fiction.

(2) TO plays well and the Eagles don't pick up the option. Then the Eagles get two years of premiere WR for $12.66MM, which is a bit of a discount. But TO can get a big check in March from another employer. Unless other teams are leery of giving him big up-front money due to his apparent belief that he shouldn't have to honor his contracts.

(3) TO doesn't play well or is injured this year. Then he is overpaid at $12.66MM for two years, and doesn't deserve a big payday in 2006 from either the Eagles or anyone else.

The level of media ignorance/inability to do math on this issue is staggering.

by Adam H (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 3:18pm

Nice breakdown El Jefe.

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 5:46pm

His previous agent is the idiot who forgot to file free agency papers for his only client. And he negotiated a contract that practically begs Philadelphia to release Owens after this season. The agent was admittedly hamstrung by TO's insistence on only negotiating with one of the most budget-conscious teams in the league, but it still wasn't market value. Didn't Baltimore offer him a signing bonus over $10 million?

I don't like Owens, I wouldn't want him on my team regardless of his talent, but I can understand why he's pissed. He was the second highest paid WR in the league last season and played like it. This season his pay will be less than half. The least they could have done after the superbowl he had is guarantee next year's roster bonus so he knows he won't be cut.

by Ray (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 6:14pm

That the Eagles will cut TO after this season to avoid the roster bonus next year is not guaranteed. When was the last time the Eagles cut any player for salary cap issues? Recent history has shown that the Eagles have been very good about planning out the contracts they offer, and the only players who left before their contract was up were traded or released because they weren't performing (Nate Wayne). Everyone else's contract expired. No salary cap casualties.

So why would the Eagles start axing players because of the cap now?

by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 6:29pm

Hey dudes, here's an idea - if you don't like the contract, don't sign it! The agent's just a hired hand - if he doesn't get you a deal you like, fire him and start over... Owens knew what he was getting this year (and if he didn't, he's terminally stupid), and now all of a sudden the contract isn't satisfactory? Boohoo...

(And as someone whose salary will top out in the 100-120k range, may I add - boo-freaking-hoo...)

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 6:29pm

Re 22:

First: TO's agent did file the papers properly. The problem was that the 49ers and the league were dumbasses who wouldn't respect the legal validity of the contract TO signed. That is why the matter ended up before an arbitrator and, ultimately, TO got to choose where he would play.

As a matter of fact, TO's agent did exactly what he should have. The contract TO had with the 49ers specifically gave him the right to opt-out of the contract after the league-wide deadline for Franchise and Transition designations. Hence, by waiting until that day (as was stipulated in the legally-binding contract he negotiated, taking precedent over the CBA even though the league couldn't figure this out until it was before the arbitrator), TO's agent guaranteed TO would be free to negotiate a contract with anyone in the NFL. He and his agent just got screwed by the league.

Second: It is only meaningful to speak of "highest-paid xxx" if you examine total compensation over a number of years. Otherwise the "highest-paid xxx" will always be whoever signed a new contract that winter, or a rookie, because for most star-caliber players the signing bonus is a significant fraction of the total value of the contract. If you want to make this comparison, how much did Randy Moss make last year? I'm sure he didn't make anything resembling $9.16MM in salary, like TO did this past year, because he received an $18MM signing bonus a couple of years ago. Are you going to argue that TO is worth double what Randy Moss is? I would actually suspect that TO made closer to 3-4X what Randy Moss did last year.

Third: If he plays well, the structure of TO's contract guarantees him either: (A) A $7.5MM bonus from the Eagles, or (B) Free agency and a big signing bonus from another team. How many stars get to sign two "free-agent" contracts in 3 years?

Given the circumstances TO faced in March '04, this is about the best he could have hoped for. I appreciate TO's right to get whatever he can, but it just seems to me that he's made an awfully big stink about maybe 5-10% of his salary (the difference between his compensation and the top-paid WR in the league). I really think his behavior this off-season could cost him that much money and more if he does become a free-agent again.

by Matt (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 7:36pm

Thank you, ElJefe, for that thorough explanation of a widely misunderstood situation.

I think it speaks of people's focused dislike of T.O. that they choose to remember the events of last offseason as Owens' agent "screwing up", and Owens' "childish" refusal to accept the trade to Baltimore, when the fact of the matter is they were both right. It was the 49ers and the league office that were incorrect in their interpretation of Owens' contract. T.O. had earned his free agency, and it would have been granted by the arbitrator, but the league instead encouraged the three teams to work out a trade to a) save face and more importantly b) avoid an official ruling that would have set a legal precedent.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 7:53pm

In fairness to the masses who are apparently so eager to find fault with Owens in everything, it should be noted that the version put forth by ElJefe was not commonly put forth by the media at the time (or even now, if it's ever brought up). To anyone who didn't care enough to really dig (such as me), all that we ever heard from any news source was that Owens and his agent missed the filing deadline, and he missed his chance for free agency. In fact, I have never seen the full version reported anywhere other than here. I think it's not so much that we hate Owens as that unless someone has either read it here or investigated it thoroughly on their own, they just don't get that part of the story.

by Matt (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 8:38pm

A valid point, Trogdor, that 90% of the media coverage ignored those facts. I think for media member and fan alike, there was such a delicious Aesop's-Fable-esque comeuppance angle (loudmouth athlete moans all season about free agency, then makes a simple mistake and misses his chance), that as more details emerged that correctly framed the situation, they were ignored because people wanted so badly to hang on to the parable.

In the end, this backfired on them, because when T.O. finally wound up with the Eagles, it was viewed by those same people (again, both media and fans) not as a fair outcome, but as a case of the bad guy getting what he wanted because he complained loud enough. So now T.O.'s even more of a villain.

Of course, his antics this offseason don't do much to support my theory that he was misunderstood last year, but I still maintain that it was not reasonable to expect his actions this year, even though many did.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 12:02pm

All summer I've been saying T.O. has zero leverage if he holds out. I no longer think that. If T.O. threatens to skip town right now, I think there's a good chance that the Eagles will give him a little something. The Eagles are a good team at almost every position, but not good enough that they can win the Super Bowl with a three-receiver set of Greg Lewis, Billy McMullen, and Reggie Brown. If T.O. were to leave camp, he'd be wrong in principle and the Eagles would be right in principle not to re-do his deal and to demand that he re-pay his signing bonus. But you know what? Sometimes when you hold firm in the name of doing what's right in principle, you cut off your nose to spite your face. I think this would be one of those times.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 1:27pm

Would they not almost be better off putting Levens at WR?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 1:30pm

Would they not almost be better off putting Levens at WR?
Probably not. Did you mean Westbrook?

by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 2:41pm

A small correction to ElJefe's information on TO's contract:

He does have a signing bonus (which someone else said was not the case and hasn't been mentioned since). Furthermore, his original contract runs through 2006, and the optional extension begins in 2007. The upshot of that is that the only way to get out of paying the option bonus (and therefore almost certainly the roster bonus) would be to cut Owens next March. That would cause a signing bonus acceleration of about $1.65 million. This, of course, is not that big a deal for a team that's always awash in cap room.

I tend to sympathize with the contingent that says "It was as clear when TO signed the contract as it is now that his getting released in 2006 was augured by the contract's structure. Nobody forced him to sign it." At the same time, if he's on a level with Moss and Harrison and above everyone else, he's underpaid. So it's a quandary.

One interesting angle: TO's playing under a contract his old agent signed. That means his old agent is getting paid as TO does. His new agent, the Drew, doesn't get a red cent out of TO unless he gets him a new deal. I don't think that's a motivation for the holdout, because I don't think Rosenhaus has gotten where he is by looking out for his own interests at the possible expense of his clients', and I've heard nothing but good things about Rosenhaus generally. But it's still something interesting to think about.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 3:03pm

Tim, could you explain that a little more? Does the agent who negotiates a contract get a percentage of every paycheck for the duration of the contract? So if a guy signs a seven-year deal and then fires his agent a month later, is he still paying a portion to that guy more than six years after firing him? I had never heard that. If that's the case, why don't new agents just get the team to "restructure" the deal but make it identical to the past contract, just so the new agent is the one who gets the commission?

by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 3:06pm

One more point/correction. TO's former agent did bollix up the proceedings to get TO to free agency last year. He had earned the right to void the remaining years in his contract, which he had to do, according to the contract, at the beginning of the 2004 league year (March). That's a couple weeks after the date to designate franchise players, so that was not a factor. When your contract expires and you become a free agent, you don't have to file any special paperwork to make yourself a free agent (so there's no standard league date that this contract was a special exception to); TO's case was different because he was actively voiding the remainder of his contract, which is why he had to file paperwork at all.

I'm a little unclear on the specifics of the reason his agent didn't file in time, but I know the general story. The league can and does move the specific date on which the league year begins. TO('s agent) had to void the contract by the first day of the 2004 league year or a specified date, whichever was earlier. When the league moved the first day of the year, that also automatically amends dates in contracts such as TO's. The agent was not specifically informed (although he should technically have known) that his deadline was affected by the adjustment of the league calendar, and that's why he missed it. I think it's because the error arose from such an arcane rule, and the player involved is so noisy and famous, that the arbitration resulted in a free agency-containing compromise.

by Tim (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 3:44pm


It is as you described it. The agent makes his money along the way as the player does to incentivize the agent to do deals in the player's best interest, since it's his best interest too.

When a new agent renegotiates an old contract, both agents typically get paid from that point forward. It's figured based on the change in the actual pay the player is making. So if a player signed a contract (say in 2003) which in 2005 would pay him $1M, and then he fires his agent and gets it renegotiated up to pay him $1.2M, the original agent gets paid a percentage of the original $1M, and the new agent gets paid a percentage of the extra $200K.

If the renegotiation resulted in a lower salary, the two agents would split the compensation; the old agent would get most of it, but the new agent takes a cut equal to the percentage decrease in the player's salary. So if that $1M salary was negotiated down to $800K, then the original agent would take his share (typically 3%) of 80% (800K/1M) of the new, lowered compensation, $800K. The new agent (who negotiated the new, reduced contract) would get his (3%) share of the remaining 20%. So the old agent's pay has fallen from 3% of $1M to 3% of $640K (80% of 800K), and the new agent gets 3% of $160K.

by MDS (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 4:52pm

Interesting. So it's clearly in the best interests of Rosenhaus to get TO to do whatever is necessary to get himself a new contract. The more I think about this, the more I think it might not be over. Priest Holmes publicly threatened to walk out on his team if the Chiefs didn't re-work his contract before the regular season started, and the Chiefs caved. (Which was a mistake in my view, because I believe the success of Holmes has always had more to do with the offensive line than with Holmes himself.) The Eagles tend to take a harder line than the Chiefs on these things, but they'd be in a lot of trouble if they didn't have TO this year.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 8:30am

I didn't mean Westbrook - although that might also be worth considering. I meant Ryan Moats, who by all accounts has similar receiving skills. Not really sure why I wrote Levens. Brain not engaged.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 11:57am

I keep hearing everyone saying that TO's contract was written the way it was so that it would be easy for the Eagles to cut him after this year. And every time I hear that I just get more and more aggravated. That's a load of b.s. that Owens and his douche bag agent keep spewing on the media. Did if ever occur to anyone that his signing bonus was split up the way it was (partial signing bonus year 1 and partial roster bonus year 3) to encourage him to behave himself?!?

by Tim (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 1:49pm

The reason that the Eagles structured the contract the way they did is anyone's guess. But the fact of the matter is that, in terms of the salary cap ramifications, it IS easy for the Eagles to cut TO after this season.

by Jim A (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 1:58pm

Large mid-contract nonguaranteed roster bonuses are actually fairly common and aren't really intended to be a "split" of the signing bonus. In many cases they are put in to encourage a renegotiation of the contract, but allowing the signing bonus to be prorated across more years than a shorter-term deal would.

Even if TO doesn't get a new deal until 2007, I'd guess that it's still well worth it for Rosenhaus to do some pro bono work for a superstar with the future earnings potential that TO has. If nothing else, I'd think there'd be opportunities for advertising and other promotional deals outside of his NFL contract.

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2005 - 2:09pm

There's an old joke about a guy who complains about how terrible the food is at a restaurant, and then adds, "And the portions are too small!"

I think about that when I hear players and agents talk about how unfair a contract is, and then add, "And the team can cut me at any time!"

People, if the contract is unfair, you should want the team to cut you. Players who have been cut are the ones who find out exactly what the fair market value for their services is. If your current contract is below market value, getting cut is a good thing. This is so incredibly obvious that I guess we shouldn't be surprised that none of the talking heads on ESPN can figure it out.