Sunday, July 29, 2007

Brady Quinn Has an Inflated Sense of His Value

Most sports fans have heard of the "hometown discount," when a player eschews the chance to make more money by signing with another team because he wants to stay with his hometown team. Brady Quinn apparently is looking for the never before seen "hometown price increase." Despite repeatedly saying that he was thrilled to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Quinn and his agent Tom Condon are doing everything they can to prevent Quinn from playing for the Browns any time soon.

Although some draft experts projected Quinn to be a top five pick, he plummeted through the first round like a man falling out of an airplane without a parachute. If the Browns had not traded with Dallas to acquire the 22nd overall selection to pick Quinn who knows how far he might have dropped. Suffice it to say that the marketplace spoke loudly and clearly that Quinn is most assuredly not considered to be a top-five (top-10 or top-15) player, at least not right now. The Browns did Quinn a favor, although their motives are of course hardly exclusively altruistic; the Browns must expect that he can be molded into a quality starter at some point. Cleveland has also done a pretty good job--at least on paper--of revamping the offensive line, providing more protection for whoever will be taking the snaps this season.

Meanwhile, Condon and Quinn reject the idea that Quinn should sign a contract in line with his draft position; they want Quinn to receive special dispensation--that is to say, a lot more compensation--because some people once thought of Quinn as a top-five pick. Guess what guys? Reality check is on line one and would like to speak with you. "Hello? Brady Quinn was taken with the 22nd pick--and no team in its right mind is going to pay top-five money to the 22nd pick." Apparently, Condon wants his client to either get a contract that escalates greatly in the final years, when Quinn will supposedly be the starter, or else he wants the Browns to sign Quinn for four years instead of five, enabling Quinn to test the free agent market when his stock, in theory, would be rising.

Here's a novel thought for Quinn: sign the normal contract that goes along with being the 22nd pick, get in training camp now so you can start the process of becoming an NFL quarterback and go about proving wrong everyone who doubts you. That worked pretty well in the NBA for second round pick Gilbert Arenas. If you can really play, then you will make an impact and the money will come, not only in the second contract, but also in the form of endorsements. Face it, if Brady Quinn is truly a top-five talent, then he should be able to take the Browns to the playoffs in the next two or three years and if he does that then he will own Cleveland, like Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar did before him. Cleveland is a football town and anyone who plays a key role in the Browns' success will become a local folk hero.

The alternative scenarios for Quinn are not good. The Browns are unlikely to set a precedent by paying him significantly more than his draft position warrants, so he will either sit out, fall behind and then come to camp no richer than he would have been otherwise or both sides could play hardball, with Quinn sitting out the whole season. That sounds crazy--and would hardly be in the best interests of either side--but Patrick McManamon, the Browns' beat writer for the Akron Beacon-Journal, writes that this is a distinct possibility. If that does happen, the Browns would lose his rights and Quinn would be eligible for the 2008 draft--but before things go too far down that road, Cleveland could try to trade him and recoup the first round pick that the Browns gave up to get him. Maybe Condon and Quinn think that they can wear the Browns down until Quinn gets what he wants but it seems more likely that all Quinn is doing now is sabotaging his own career before it even begins.

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