Monday, March 10, 2008

2007's Highest Paid Athletes in DFW

It's a slow time of the year as early 2009 recruiting is under way (Tech already has 3 commits) and we're still a few weeks away from the start of spring I'll turn your attention to professional sports.

I took the time to put together a list of the highest paid athletes currently playing for DFW's major sports teams (Rangers, Cows, Mavs, Stars) and some thoughts on them. I got this info from multiple sites including USA Today and ESPN. Here's a Top 10 (w/ thoughts), some noteables that are still on the books even though they're playing elsewhere, and a list of each team's "best value" (rookies not included).

1. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks ($15.1 mil) - Playoff loss aside, 2007 was another banner year for Dirk. The seven-time All Star now has an MVP trophy to put on his mantle. All told, you can't argue with his salary. Consider that he's the 15th highest paid NBA player right now. He'll make as much in 2008 (16.3 mil) as Paul Pierce and Antawn Jamison. Chris Webber and Steve Francis make more than Dirk. All that's missing is an NBA title.

2. Roy Williams, SS, Cowboys ($11.69 ) - Arguably the worst contract of any pro team in DFW right now (I'll move on to Damp and Padilla soon). For a guy pulling down almost 10% of his team's salary cap, his performance sure isn't worth it. Roy brings truth to the saying, "Nice guys finish last." A great person off the field, his work on the field leaves a lot to be desired. Whether it's blown coverages (and/or a total inability to cover anybody at all), 15 yd personal foul penalties, or being suspended for his inability to not horse collar an opposing player (of the 4 horse collar penalties in 2007, 3 were called on Roy Williams), Mr. Williams had about as bad of a year as one could have. Somehow, he still earned a late call to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.

3. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys ($11.25) - A two-time Pro Bowl QB, he holds the Cowboys single season records for TD's (36), Yards (4211) and Completions (335). Jerry Jones would've been wise to sign him before the 2007 season and save himself about $7-10 mil but once he saw Romo's level of play continue he was quick to get out his checkbook before the price tag got any higher. Good move by Jerry and Romo to take care of this well before any talk of free agency could take place. It shows commitment on the part of both men towards the future of the franchise. Now a few playoff wins would further justify the money.

4. Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys ($10.0) - Many people moaned when TO was signed, after his first year there were mixed feelings about his worth to the team. Yes his numbers were impressive but did they help win games??? Owens took it to the next level in 2007. His high level of production continued (more yards and TD's than 2006) and he made a positive impact in big games. When compared to the salaries of other top WR's this number is more than justified.

5. Kevin Millwood, SP, Rangers ($9.84) - Millwood is the latest in a line of "quality" pitchers that sign with the Rangers and see their careers go down the drain (see Chan Ho Park). Whether it be injuries, poor scouting by the Rangers, or the crippling heat of a Texas summer, pitchers typically don't have the same level of success in Arlington that they've shown elsewhere. Millwood is a solid #2 or #3 starter but he doesn't possess the health and/or ability to be the ace of an MLB staff. Then again...that's one of the many reasons he ended up in Texas.

6. Erick Dampier, C, Mavericks ($9.63) - His play since Jason Kidd arrived in Dallas notwithstanding, most people don't think that Dampier is worth the money for 8 points/game. However, if I told you that his salary is on par with Brad Miller, Samuel Dalembert, and Tyson Chandler...then you might realize that his salary is par for the course where run of the mil NBA centers are concerned. In no way to I consider him a steal at this price (and he's up to $10.5 for the 07-08 season) but it's not as bad as some make it out to be.

7. Vicente Padilla, SP, Rangers ($9.0) - Vicente Padilla...I don't like you. You're overpaid, you have no control, and you're a poor excuse for a major league pitcher. Take your money and get out of town. That is all.

8. Bradie James, LB, Cowboys ($8.75) - A stud coming out of LSU, James has developed into a dependable LB for the Cowboys in the 3-4 defense. Back to back 100+ tackle seasons and 5 seasons of injury free football is more than enough to justify this contract as market worthy. Considering the deals some players are getting you could now consider his contract a "value deal."

9. Jason Terry, SG, Mavericks ($8.1) - Jet is a mainstay on the Mavericks roster and the consumate team player. Yes he's a shoot first guard, but he's a tough, team-oriented player that exudes positive energy on the court. Barring another blockbuster trade, I expect Terry to remain a Maverick the rest of his career. His current contract expires after the 2011-12 season.

10. DeMarcus Ware, LB, Cowboys ($7.51) - A huge value contract for the Cowboys at just about any $$ amount. Ware has quickly and quietly emerged as one of the premier OLB's in the game. His ability to rush the passer is 2nd to none as indicated by his 14 sacks in 2007 (3rd in the NFL). Having just completed his 3rd NFL season, expect to see Ware with a star on his helmet for many years to come.

Highest paid DFW players NOT playing for a DFW team:

1. Michael Finley, G/F, Spurs ($16.1 mil) - That's right...the Mavericks paid over $16 million in 2007 for somebody that's playing for their rival. That number goes up to $18.6 million for this (the 2008) season. Considering how much of a "Maverick Killer" Finley has been since leaving Dallas, this one hurts...A LOT.

2. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees ($9.6 mil/est) - This figure is estimated because I can't find a per year breakdown of the Rangers were paying on A-Rod's contract. I know that they were paying $67 mil over 7 years but that only $21 mil was remaining for the final 3 years (2008-10). Fortunately for Tom Hicks, A-Rod opted out of his old contract, thus relieving the Rangers of that burden. Of course he soon signed with the Yankees for even more money...but $0 of that will be coming from Hicks' back pocket.

3. Shawn Bradley, Retired ($4.8 mil) - For a guy that averaged 6.5 points and 5.5 boards during his time in Dallas...he's sure making out nice financially for it. He "earned" $4.8 mil in 2007 and will pocket another $5.2 mil by the end of this season before finally coming off the Mavs books 3 years and nearly $15 mil after retiring.

Best Values in DFW

1. Michael Young, SS, Rangres ($3.58 mil) - When you can sign the cornerstone of your franchise to a new contract and add it on to the end of a current contract, you've pulled off one heck of a negotiation. That's exactly what Daniels and Hicks did with Michael Young. They've kept him at a very moderate number (under $5 mil) until 2009. At that time, his 5-year, $80 mil contract will kick in and run through the 2013 season.

2. Josh Howard, SF, Mavericks ($1.67 mil) - In the last year of his rookie contract, the Mavs had one of the best values in the NBA in Josh Howard. He proved his worth by earning his first All-Star nod (19 ppg, 7 rpg) in 2007. Mark Cuban awarded him accordingly with a 4-year, $42 million contract that kicked in this season. Welcome to the good life Mr Howard. Make sure to donate accordingly to your alma mater!

3. Mike Ribeiro, C, Stars ($2.8 mil) - Ribeiro joined the Stars last season in what many considered a "garbage deal" w/ the Canadiens and has quickly shown that he can be a difference maker when given regular playing time. A solid season last year has lead to a breakout season this year. The Stars realized they'd found the critical 2nd piece (along w/ Captain Brendan Morrow) to replace the aging Modano and Lehtinen and wisely signed him to a 5 year/$25 million contract. His contributions this year have lead the Stars back to the top of the Western Conference standings and leave them in prime position to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup in 2008 and beyond.

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