The timing worked for Joe Flacco. It didn't work for Mike Trout. And when it comes to contracts, timing is what matters.
Thus a guy such as Flacco can become the NFL's highest-paid player. Which, of course, reminds us that the highest-paid player does not equate to being the best player. If it did, then contracts routinely would have it wrong. Adam Archuleta once was the NFL's highest paid safety; he was never considered the best one -- but it did make him the biggest bust.
Nobody in their right mind would suggest Flacco is the best player. Or even the best quarterback. He's not even in the top five. But here's what matters: He was a free agent coming off a Super Bowl triumph with a flawless postseason. Oh, and the Ravens had no alternative if they lost Flacco. So the price tag went up. Kudos to him. It's how the market works.
As for Trout, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder has less than three years of major league service. So unlike Flacco, he has no leverage. When he couldn't agree on a contract extension, the Angels gave him a $20,000 raise to $510,000. That's attractive to the average worker; it's a surprising move by a baseball team that should want to keep a 21-year-old near-MVP happy. By comparison, Washington's Bryce Harper, a great talent but without Trout's numbers, will make $750,000 this year.
But there's little doubt one day Trout will receive a huge contract. The timing, for now, is just a little off.
- John Keim