This is year in all likelihood, Andrew Luck will be grinning ear to ear as his name is called by Jim Irsay, or some representative of the Colts as he seeks to be the Next Big Thing in Indianapolis. He will likely be a franchise quarterback for the next decade plus, joining Cam Newton from the previous year’s draft as the face of their teams, part of the new wave of incredible young quarterbacks coming into the league. Newton last season smashed nearly every offensive record for rookie quarterbacks, including Peyton’s record for total yards. Luck might be even better. And the thing that will stick with Buffalo fans, is that one of them came *this* close to being a Bill.
2011 was the year of the expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement. You all remember the agonizing lockout, the frenzied free agent signing period and all that went with it. One of the sticking points of the new CBA was the rookie wage scale. Previously, teams with the first few picks were doling out huge contracts to unproven rookies; Newton and the 2010 first overall pick, St Louis quarterback Sam Bradford, each received mostly guaranteed contracts in excess of $50 million. Not bad for an entry level position. But because of the effect of the new CBA, rookie wage scales were drastically cut, and even the first overall pick will see less than half of that now. It is for that reason that many people were not sure why Andrew Luck skipped last years draft when he was still regarded as the number one pick. He was all but assured to be making far less money if he stayed in school for his senior year. What more did he have to prove? He lost out on literally MILLIONS of dollars that he will not recoup. (Yes, he will still be paid like a franchise guy when his rookie contract expires, but for the first few years he will have made a lot less.) Both quarterbacks were 1-2 in some order on everyone’s draft boards, and it is not a stretch in the slightest to believe that if they were in the same draft, one of them would have ended up as a Bill. Chan Gailey loved both players, and mentioned that if Carolina had passed on Newton he would have drafted him. Luck was rated as a better prospect even then, and I believe most Bills fans would be more than happy to have taken either Luck or Newton with the 3rd overall pick last year, even without the benefit of hindsight. Can you imagine the feeling going into this years draft with a twenty one year old, bona fide, undisputed franchise QB already on your team with which to build around?