How does the NFL expect teams like the Rams and Lions to compete?

St. Louis Rams newest member, quarterback Sam Bradford, holds up his jersey with head coach Steve Spagnuolo (L) and general manager Billy Devaney as he is introduced to reporters at Rams Park in Earth City, Missouri on April 23, 2010, one day after being selected No. 1 in the first round of the NFL. Bradford played his college football at Oklahoma. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Quick math question to start your Saturday morning: If Sam Bradford is worth $50 million guaranteed, then how much should Peyton Manning make?

I know it’s a tough question, so I’ll throw out some facts to better assist you while you think:

Peyton Manning:

– 50,128 career passing yards
– 366 career passing touchdowns
– 95.2 career passer rating
– 2 Super Bowl appearances, 1 championship

Sam Bradford:

– Went to Oklahoma

Look, nobody blames Bradford for cashing in (six years, $78 million). It’s not like any of us would have said, “You know what, Rams? I haven’t proven anything yet, so to be fair why don’t I just accept a modest starting salary of $40,000-a-year plus dental?”

The system is broken in the NFL and it’s one of the many things that the NFLPA and owners need to resolve before signing a new collective bargaining agreement (assuming they do sign one, of course) in the next couple of months/year. And it’s not just a Bradford vs. Manning financial thing, either.

How can the league expect a team like the Lions to field a competitive roster when they gave quarterback Matthew Stafford over $41 million in guarantees last year and they still have to sign No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh this year? Last year, the Rams signed offensive tackle Jason Smith (the No. 2 overall pick) to a $61.775 million contract worth $33 million in guarantees. Between Bradford and Smith, the Rams now have $83 million in guaranteed money wrapped up in two players.

And they don’t even know if Bradford and Smith can play yet.

Again, how does the league expect teams like the Lions and Rams to compete with the likes of the Colts and Saints when they have to break the bank for unproven players? What happens when Calvin Johnson (a player the Lions actually know can play) needs a new deal in two years? Will the Lions be able to sign him? What if they can’t? They let one of their best players go because they have all of their money tied up into high draft picks?

Talk about a vicious cycle – it needs to end.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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