Dalton v Newton
I had little to no doubt that Dalton would perform better than Newton out of the gates as a NFL QB. This is mostly because a)I know Dalton ran the offense at TCU for four straight years and b)I'm told that offense had more in common with pro offenses than Auburn's (note: I probably should have had more doubt). But that's kind of crazy considering Newton was the number one overall pick. It's also kind of crazy considering that if the two had played in college last year, I'm confident that Newton would have fairly easily gotten the upperhand. Cam Newton (assisted by a great offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn) blitzed the AAA NFL (SEC) almost by himself. He was fucking outrageous.
Dalton was good in college. But stick him in the SEC West with Auburn's team and he would have been lucky to lose less than 3 games. Yet Dalton seems much more advanced right now. There's a couple things to take away from that.
First, raw talent should be somewhere around 5th or 6th on the list of things to look for when evaluating a college QB for a NFL job. What Cam Newton had to do at QB at Auburn appears to have little to do with what he has to do at QB now. And of all the positions to learn from scratch in the entire professional sports world, QB seems easily the most difficult. I would not want to bet my organization's future on it.
Second, the rookie wage scale greatly reduces the downside risk to Carolina should they need to give Newton a long time to develop and even if he eventually fails as a NFL QB. The things Cam needs to develop to succeed seem very hard to learn and may take a lot of time even though his raw physical skills give him a margin of error Andy Dalton could only dream of. Last year, if Carolina took that risk, the downside would have been $50 million in guaranteed money. This year it's $22 million. Last year, taking Dalton over Newton would have been a much more intelligent risk/reward decision. This year, taking a chance on Cam makes sense, even if last night, it looked kind of dumb.
Rookie Wage Scale
The Bengals, because their ownership insists on doing everything themselves, often find themselves drafting within the top 15 of the draft. The rookie wage scale now protects them from the dumb decisions they often make. I ran the numbers once, the Bengals actually draft worse when they pick in the top 15 of the first round than in other slots. However, now, when they draft poorly in the top 15, they won't pay a huge financial price.
Now, part of me LOVES that they had to pay a huge financial price. Why? Because that comes straight out of the wealth of the Brown Family. Anything that slows down their wealth accumulation is a plus in my book given the completely ungrateful way they take advantage of taxpayers and the community.
But clearly, the more I think about it, the rookie wage scale is the biggest structural game changer for the Bengals under Mike Brown. It basically does two things:
- Allows the Brown Family to accumulate more wealth
- Makes the Brown Family pay less on and off the field for their poor management
(commenter Wyatt rightly points out, it also eliminates holdouts, which is hugely beneficial for on field performance) The first point helps only the Brown Family. The second point helps both performance of the team and management. For the next two years, the second part is irrelevant because the Bengals can just take all the savings from the rookie wage scale and just pocket it. But starting in 2013, they will have to start meeting the salary floor, which means the money they save on rookies will have to be spent on the rest of the squad. The Bengals may not spend it wisely because they are terrible, terrible managers of football teams. However, by sheer luck, occasionally it will be spent wisely (though they are trying to extend their best players now, that's positive, we'll see if they need to pay that premium to keep them around however).
Structurally, the Bengals are less fucked going forward under the new CBA than they were under the last one. So even I think returning to the Lost Decade is likely impossible. The new baseline without Palmer will certainly be low, but we never be as bad as the Lost Decade.
And my main fear is that the Bengals will be just good enough to string fans along as they have before, but never good enough to win a superbowl.