In any negotiation, sports contract or otherwise, one party almost always has the upper hand over the other. In business terms, it’s called “leverage”.
Kyle Boller hasn’t had much leverage since joining the Ravens in 2003. Thrust into a starting role that he was woefully ill-prepared for, Boller has never really gotten untracked on the field. If we were slicing up his career in the form of a pizza, we’d say 15% of the slices (his performance) were “good”, 70% were “not acceptable” and 15% were “not good at all”. I don’t care what restaurant you’re in, if 70% of the food isn’t acceptable, the place doesn’t stay open very long.
But we’ve now come upon some news that has Boller-haters and Ravens enthusiasts puzzled…angry…and wondering. Evidently, the Ravens have talked with Boller’s representatives about a contract extension. That does NOT mean they’ve offered Kyle a new contract. That merely means they’re “dipping their toe into the water” to see if, in fact, Boller would be interested in negotiating a new deal now – before his current contract expires at the end of the ’07 campaign.
Here’s my advice to Kyle Boller.
Run. Do not pass go. Do not collect $10 million or whatever the club would offer you for a new 4-year deal that would probably include $3 million or so up front.
Run, Kyle, run.
Well, for starters, let’s make sure we’re clear on one thing. The Ravens are an IDEAL organization to work for – particularly if you’re a player. Just ask Trevor Pryce. Or Willis McGahee. Or Steve McNair. They all cashed-in big-time as newcomers to the scene. When the Ravens want you, they pay.
The Ravens, as odd as this might sound, want Boller back for ’08. They still believe in him. To what degree they believe in him is probably a question only Ozzie Newsome can answer, but make no mistake about it, the Ravens organization still thinks Kyle Boller has value to them on the field.
It doesn’t matter. Boller should simply say “no thanks” right now and tell the club to get a hold of him next March when he’s a free agent.
I’m most certainly NOT a Kyle Boller defender. I’ve said long and often that I think he’s an adequate back-up that is capable of performing well on a short-term (two quarters…) basis when called upon. I do NOT think he’s a guy capable of starting over some period of time and leading the Ravens to key victories in the waning weeks of the season when a playoff berth is at stake.
Now is not the time to re-visit what’s happened to Boller since he arrived on the scene. Some of what transpired from ’03-’06 was NOT his fault, no matter how many times he slipped backing up from center. He was given a bad hand to play with from jump street and, predictably, his performance reflected that. Again…now is not the time to re-hash all the good – and the mostly bad – that marks Boller’s tenure in Baltimore.
Now is the time for Boller to tell the Ravens, “no thanks”.
Kyle believes he can be a starter somewhere in the NFL. There are a lot of people out there who doubt that, but Boller would be doing himself a disservice by caving in to those people who question his skills.
Further, why settle for back-up money NOW – we can only assume the Ravens would sign him to a deal as the team’s #2, right? – when you might be able to peddle yourself to Minnesota, Atlanta, Green Bay or perhaps even Buffalo or Tampa Bay in the off-season and convince them you’re worthy of #1 money?
The life-line of an NFL player is short. Boller is 5-years into what might wind up being a 6-year, 8-year or 10-year career. If I’m advising him, I tell him to hang on until next March and let’s see if we can’t convince some desperate team to pony up $12 million for his services over a 4-year period with maybe $6 million of that guaranteed – in the form of a signing bonus. McGahee got $7 million up front from the Ravens and, in all honesty, he was basically a “good” back at Buffalo – nothing more, nothing less. With 5-years experience in the league and a good agent, Boller might be able to hoodwink some team out of $6 million up front, right? McNair’s agent pulled an $11 million signing-bonus-rabbit out of the hat when he inked his deal with the Ravens last summer. He’s been to exactly ONE more Super Bowl than Boller.
My point? Boller doesn’t need to sign with the Ravens right now. He might very well want to stay here and it could turn out to be a nice, long-term live-in that sees Kyle hang around as nothing more than a 10-year “best friend”. Never quite in love enough to marry – but always there for you when the times are tough…perhaps that’s how the relationship plays out between Boller and Baltimore. A little bit like Will & Grace…without the obvious, uh, “differences”…if you know what I mean.
Boller would do well to just tell the Ravens, “Thanks…let’s see how this season plays out and I’ll get back to you in March.”
He has EVERYTHING to gain and NOTHING to lose by adopting that stance.
And the Ravens don’t have much to lose either way.
It’s a bit puzzling why this whole thing has come out now anyway. McNair’s the quarterback now – and probably at least again through 2008.
Why worry about signing Kyle Boller right now?
Unless…wait a minute…have the Orioles offered him a contract as a relief pitcher?