Is Leigh Bodden overpaid? Cleveland thinks so…


I hate being put into the position to defend the Detroit Lions. Thanks to a boneheaded article by Tony Grossi in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, I’m going to do just that…Damn him. He claims the Lions were too generous in giving Leigh Bodden a new contract, while the Cleveland Browns have a relative bargain in Shaun Rogers.

Let’s break it down, shall we? My answers are in bold.

Who’s the better player — Shaun Rogers or Leigh Bodden?

It depends. Is Rogers pushing 4 bills on the scale, or is he in a semblance of shape? If he’s in shape, of course Rogers is a better player. But in Detroit, the only sort of shape we saw Rogers in…Is “blob” considered a shape?

Yes, that is Shaun Rogers wearing what appears to be a mumu.

Big Baby, indeed.

More to the point, which player would you pay more?

More to the point, which player will show up to play on every snap? Not Rogers. Never going to happen.

The Detroit Lions traded Rogers, a former Pro Bowl player at the premium position of defensive line, partly because they didn’t want to pay him $17 million over the next three years of his existing contract.

But mostly because Rogers would show up to play every other game. As the season went on, and he got more and more out of shape, it was more like every 3rd game. That’s why the Lions didn’t want to pay him.

If Rogers had made even the slightest effort to remain in shape, and played like the impact player he’s capable of being, the Lions would have been more than happy to shell out the cash.

So they shipped Rogers to the Browns for a third-round draft pick and Bodden.

This week, the Lions gave Bodden a four-year contract extension that bumps his 2008 compensation higher than Rogers was scheduled to earn.

Sure, I think the Lions overpaid to lock up Bodden. But the money is not guaranteed. It’s essentially a 1 year deal if the Lions want it to be, and the big money doesn’t kick in unless he’s on the roster in 2009. If Bodden plays well enough to earn that $8.6 million ’09 roster bonus, it means he would have had a great 2008 for the Lions, and made more of an impact than Big Baby ever would have over the same span.

Bodden’s new deal reportedly will tack on $2 million to his scheduled ’08 salary and bonus package of $2.7 million — for a total of $4.7 million.

Rogers was scheduled to earn $4.25 million in ’08 under terms of his Detroit contract.

Wow, Bodden is making a whole $475,000 more than Rogers. What an insult to Big Baby! Please, that’s chump change in the NFL. Let alone it’s being paid to a player whom I’ll guarantee will be on the field for more snaps. Many more snaps.

This is the reason the Lions extended Bodden.

Not a Twinkie in sight…

Not many teams would be willing to pay a good but not great cornerback more than a Pro Bowl defensive lineman, but the Lions made that choice. Rogers is 29. Bodden will be 27 in September.

Rogers also has a history of injury. A history of not playing hard every snap. A history of being grossly overweight. Think the last reason has much to do with the first two?

Bodden is just entering his prime, while Rogers has wasted much of his. If Rogers continues on the track he was in Detroit, and I see no reason to think otherwise, he’ll have eaten his way out of football long before Bodden leaves the game.

Rogers knows he has bad knees, but he still couldn’t keep the weight off that would have relieved the stress on those knees. Thus, he became a part-time player making impact player money.

Rogers, of course, signed his own contract extension after joining the Browns. The Browns tacked on about $25 million and three years to Rogers’ existing deal and rewrote the ’08-’10 seasons to guarantee him $23 million. But that’s another story.

You’re complaining about the money the Lions gave Bodden when the Browns may have given an albatross of a contract to Rogers? Please, write that story.

The Lions’ new deal with Bodden — reportedly totaling $27 million over four years — sheds more light on the Browns’ haste to trade him.

Again, much of the $27 million is in roster bonuses. For that matter, have you seen any NFL contract go its entire length before being renegotiated to make it more cap friendly? I’ll be surprised beyond belief if Bodden sees all $27 million.

Besides having a sub-par year in 2007, Bodden was becoming disenchanted with his contract situation. He still had two years to go on a $12 million contract the Browns gave him following the 2005 season, his breakout year.

And Shaun Rogers was extremely disenchanted with the Lions. The Lions were fed up with Rogers. Apparently Bodden and the Browns were at odds. Everyone involved was disenchanted.

If there was ever a trade made where both players desperately needed a change of scenery, it’s this one.

When Bodden’s agent couldn’t extract a new deal from the Browns, Bodden switched agents and basically talked his way off the team.

Rogers ate his way off the Lions. Let’s not forget he’s one strike away from an 8 game drug suspension.

“It’s something I wanted in Cleveland,” Bodden told the Detroit News after receiving his new contract this week. “I wanted to end my career with a long-term deal.”

Bodden’s new deal, which reportedly includes an $8.6 million option bonus in March, lifts his compensation into the top 15 among NFL cornerbacks. He’s come a long way from being undrafted out of Duquesne and running down punts for the Browns.

A happy player is likely to be a good player. The Lions made Bodden very happy. Was it at too high a cost? As in any deal, we won’t know for a few years.

It was the Browns’ misfortune that the effect of Bodden’s departure was exacerbated by the season-ending knee injury to Daven Holly in May. They remain short-handed in experience at cornerback.

Yet trading Bodden was a good thing? Even though the Browns are now short-handed at corner. If you say so…

Yes, Bodden would look good in the Browns’ secondary today. But the acquisition of Rogers, along with fellow lineman Corey Williams, has given the defense a new energy that is fueling the optimism of the entire team.

The only energy Rogers gives off anymore is from shoveling Twinkies into his gaping maw. He could then power the entire city of Cleveland. On the football field? Not so much. Rogers spent more time hugging the oxygen tank than he ever did tackling running backs.

The Browns would make the trade again, any day. So would most other teams.

To be honest, so would the Lions. If this writer had watched ANY Lions football over the past 7 years, he would agree.