Bottom line for Leinart's loot
Originally Published: January 5, 2006By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com
On Jan. 14, 2005, Matt Leinart shocked many in the sporting world when he announced he would return for his senior season at the University of Southern California.
"I think college football and this whole atmosphere here and being with my fans and my teammates is ultimately more satisfying and will make me happier than any amount of money," Leinart said that day. Hope you're happy today, Matt. You didn't repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner, your senior season ended with a loss to Texas in the national championship game, and the amount of money you walked away from when you returned to campus might be as much as $4 million. Leinart said after Wednesday night's game that he has no regrets, and that's good. But we thought it might be instructive to go through a few scenarios concerning his future and crunch some numbers. And maybe, just maybe, Leinart's story can serve as a cautionary tale for Texas junior quarterback Vince Young, who now faces the decision about whether to return to Austin for his senior season. Most projections for the 2005 NFL draft had Leinart as the top quarterback, ahead of Utah's Alex Smith. After Leinart bowed out, Smith was drafted by San Francisco as the first overall pick and received $24 million in guaranteed money from the 49ers. If the Houston Texans, who have this year's No. 1 draft choice, select Leinart, the financial ramifications of his return to college might be minimized. Smith received a 20 percent increase in guaranteed money compared to the signing bonus that Eli Manning received as the No. 1 pick of the 2004 draft, so we figure, conservatively, that Leinart could expect at least a 10 percent increase over Smith's deal. That would net him a $26.4 million bonus this year, or $2.4 million more than he would have made last year. But, although Leinart didn't do anything to play his way out of the No. 1 spot during his senior season, it has been widely speculated that his teammate, junior running back Reggie Bush, will turn pro early and surpass him on the draft chart this spring. (Interestingly, just after Leinart's announcement a year ago that he would stay at USC for the 2005 season, an ESPN.com SportsNation poll showed that 52.6 percent of the 94,911 fans who voted said they believed he had made the right decision. But 62.3 percent of those people also believed that Leinart would be the top pick in the 2006 NFL draft, anyway.)
Matt Leinart and Vince Young share some words after Wednesday's game.
|Leinart calculator disclaimers|
|Four caveats to keep in mind as you digest our projections for Matt Leinart's first professional football contract: 1. The signing bonus, of course, is the only guaranteed portion of the contract. 2. Total contracts of different players cannot be compared, not only because they sign for varying numbers of years, but more importantly because very few contracts stay in place through the length of their term. 3. Bonuses are arbitrary. We've used information from previous years to try to determine standard increases, but agents exist to create wiggle room. 4. The percentage of increases that have become standard over the years might not apply this year. Teams could be more reluctant to give more guaranteed money as a result of uncertainty over the terms of the next collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires at the end of this season.|