In my opinion

At this point, it is Clarence Moore's job to lose. Moore, who was already ahead of Mark Clayton on the projected training camp depth chart, has taken advantage of Clayton's absence. The second-year wideout has displayed good burst coming out of his release at the line of scrimmage, as well as the speed to separate from defensive backs down the field. Moore has also bulked up since last year, adding weight to his slight 6'6 frame.

While Clayton projects to be a better player, Moore is the better complementary receiving option to Derrick Mason. Moore has the big hands and improved strength needed to fight press coverage. He is also the best vertical threat among the Ravens' top five wideouts.

With the return of Todd Heap, and Mason and Clayton having the ability to snag balls in traffic, Moore will not have to make plays over the middle of the field. Moore is at his best on the outside running routes that allow him to use his size and speed to catch the ball.

When Clayton eventually ends his holdout, it will be interesting to see how he handles running out of the slot. Clayton seems like a natural slot receiver, given his great quickness and ability to make sharpe cuts coming in and out of his routes. Clayton is also electric after the catch. He has the ability to gain an extra yard or two needed to move the sticks on third-down…

An interesting debate was raised by Stephan A. Smith on his new talk show, "Quite Frankly." The columnist, who covers the NBA for ESPN, questioned whether the NFL's current economic system was ideal or not. In fact, Smith's position was that the system is flawed because NFL players receive much less guaranteed money than players playing in other sports leagues.

Smith's view is shared by a number of famous writers, including Michael Wilbon. Considering the physical nature of the sport of football, and those players' life spans are shorter when compared to other athletes, their stance is that football players deserve better financial treatment.

There is no question that the NFL players' union is weak when compared to the NBA and MLB. This is a league dominated by management. That said, while management may have the upper-hand when negotiating contracts and putting together a roster, it has to deal with the constraints of the salary cap.

The hard cap forces NFL front offices to allocate their resources judiciously, so the overall team can be solid. The result of this process has been terrific parody since the late 90's. Any team, from any division, and any conference, can make a Super Bowl run. San Diego had the No.1 pick last April, yet went on to win 12 games nearly five months later.

At the same time, teams like New England, Philadelphia and Indianapolis have been able to succeed consistently through the cap era, putting together playoff runs that have lasted beyond four seasons.

There is simply no denying how strong the NFL product is. If the cap was not instituted, contracts would inflate ridiculously, and the league would become top heavy.

As far as the players are concerned, they are fairly compensated for the most part. If one is a top player in the league, depending on what position that players plays, he may earn anywhere from $6-to-$20 million in guaranteed money. In addition, these players are projected to earn base salaries which may not be guaranteed, but a good player should be able to play through at least two years of a new contract and earn the projected base salary. The point of signing any top notch player to a new deal is so that player can earn most of the money allotted to him.

In addition, rookies benefit greatly from the current CBA. Alex Smith, the top pick from the 2005 draft class, is set to earn more than $20 million in guaranteed money, eclipsing the number that Eli Manning earned last year. Smith is being paid like a top five NFL starting quarterback, but he has yet to take a snap in the NFL.

What if Smith ends up being a colossal bust? The 49ers will absorb a major financial hit, but Smith will still keep his paycheck. And large bonuses extend to every player chosen in the first-round. Players selected in the bottom of the first-round may not earn $20 million, but they will earn between $4-to-$5 million in bonuses, which is more guaranteed money than some established veterans net.

Conversely, rookies are not treated so well in baseball and basketball. In those sports, the rookies receive minimal pay, and receive the big contracts after owning up to their draft statuses.

Since the salary cap was instituted through the current CBA, NFL players' salaries have nearly tripled, and revenue throughout the league has increased. At the onset of each new season, the salary cap increases 5-to-7%. This increase has allowed teams to spend more of its cap funds, which has led to stars like Manning and Vick earning monster contracts in the last two years. In fact, on paper, those contracts approach the same totals that certain NBA players have received. Around 40-to-50% of their money is guaranteed.

Yes, players playing in the NFL receive less money than players playing in other leagues. However, they are still well compensated. And with teams spreading their cap funds, the league as a whole has benefited. The NFL has become the most popular and profitable sport in America. It has no peers. So the system is not flawed.

Dev Panchwagh is a journalism major at the University of Maryland and a long time member of the RavensInsider message boards where he posts as 'Dev21'.


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