When the Cincinnati Bengals decided to waive Dezmon Briscoe, they had hoped to sign the rookie wide receiver after he cleared waivers. Generally speaking, Bengals fans were upset that Cincinnati choose Jerome Simpson over Briscoe during final cuts last September, mostly out of exhaustion for waiting on Simpson to show why the franchise selected him in the second round.
Briscoe cleared waivers and then... nothing. The Bengals offered Briscoe a contract to sign with the team's practice squad. But so did another. The general salary, the going rate, for practice squad players is roughly $5,200 a week. For those of you that will rage uncontrollably with madness that the Bengals are cheap, this isn't the Bengals price; it's roughly the league's as a whole.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers blew that out of the water, offering Briscoe the league minimum for a rookie, signing the Kansas rookie to the practice squad at the astronomical price of $310,000.
Marvin Lewis wasn't happy.
"When you overpay a guy on the practice squad, you create a problem for teams,'' Lewis said. "I don't know that teams want to set that precedent and they did with Dez.
"That's not a great precedent for teams to set as we try to keep the NFL and doing the things we're trying to do as a league. It's still a league of 32 teams and things are put together a certain way.''
Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris joined Lewis Marvin Lewis' Golf Classic last week and refused to comment on it, calling it business, many months later when the whole issue has long been out of our minds.
"That's business, this is about the community and the bigger picture," Morris said. "It's not about whether you have a disagreement on the field or whether I like him on game day.
"I wanted to come in for Marvin and be supportive of him because he's always been supportive of me."
We understand and support Lewis' point of view. When setting a bad precedence on something, the league has habitually shown an inability to self-correct itself. Look at free agency and more importantly, the cost of rookie contracts among prospects selected within the first ten overall. And it's not like anyone in the league has shown a hint of humility; read NFL lockout.
At the same time, even though we're Bengals fans, it's hard to discount the need to do whatever is necessary to make your team better. We didn't complain when the Bengals signed character players because they were cheap and would help our team overall. We wanted to win. There's so much pressure to win right now in the NFL that developing players and even coaches is often disregarded because of the time it takes to build a quality foundation of players needed to win. And quite frankly, from our perspective as fans, we were so tired of losing that we'd accept the high risks.
Finally, we don't blame Briscoe either. The choice between a $5,200/week contract and $310,000 is easy. And realistically, at the time, Briscoe had a better chance of making the field with the Buccaneers rather than on the star-crazed favored receivers in Cincinnati. On November 30, 2010, Briscoe was finally promoted to the Buccaneers 53-man active roster, posting six receptions for 93 yards receiving and a touchdown in the final two games.