Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs lament their pay vs. big NBA contracts

It has become an annual rite of summer: ridiculously huge NBA contracts handed out in free agency reminding NFL players that their contracts aren't fully guaranteed and aren't as ridiculously huge as their basketball counterparts.

NBA teams have much smaller rosters — 15 players instead of 53 — and play an 82-game season instead of 16, as the NFL plays, but their huge contracts can make even well-paid NFL players feel lacking.

"Can we just have another lockout," new Bucs defensive tackle Chris Baker wrote on Twitter on Saturday night. "I want some #NBA money."

Baker, 29, got the second-largest contract the Bucs gave to a newcomer in free agency, three years and $15.75 million, including $9 million guaranteed. That makes him the Bucs' 11th-highest-paid player by average annual salary, but his deal is less impressive compared with, say, the four-year, $71 million deal the Knicks gave guard Tim Hardaway Jr., 25, who has started 62 games in his four-year NBA career, averaging 11 points per game.

Baker has had a harder path to NFL success than most players. He didn't register a tackle until he was with his third team (the Redskins) in his fourth season of trying to stick on a roster (in 2012, when he turned 25). And his personality suggests that his "lockout" comment was more lighthearted than anything.

The NFL's collective bargaining agreement, signed in 2011, expires after the 2020 season, and speculation already is strong that an extended lockout could be ahead as the union seeks to improve the players' standing in terms of contracts and maximizing guaranteed income in a league where major injuries are a bigger threat than in most other sports.

Baker also retweeted on Twitter a story from the website Pro Football Talk that said NFL players shouldn't be complaining about contracts and instead should be making plans to get a better collective bargaining agreement next time. He also retweeted a comment by NFL player Terrance Knighton: "I'm not saying NBA players should make less. Just that NFL players should be making more."

Baker isn't the first Buc to note the NBA deals. Linebacker Lavonte David tweeted Saturday that "I'm here when y'all ready NBA," and tight end O.J. Howard, the Bucs' top draft pick this year who has a fully guaranteed $11 million rookie contract, tweeted: "Should have focused on basketball more in high school."

Baker's "lockout" comment wasn't met with sympathy from some fans.

"Nothing like a millionaire whining about money," one wrote.

"I was already prepared to not like (Baker) if he underperformed … now I had a head start and good reason. #shutupandplay."

Fake autographs

Sports-card company Panini America announced that "a small quantity" of signatures on cards that were supposed to have been autographed by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott "may not be authentic."

Last week a sports-card authenticating company said that some of the Prescott cards in Panini's 2016 Prizm set contained autographs created by an autopen signing machine and not Prescott's actual signature.

The company said it met with Prescott and his representatives, saying they "have no knowledge" of how the fake autographs ended up on the Panini cards.

Panini said it recalled all its cards featuring Prescott's signature and halted deliveries to 110 customers, though it could not stop delivery to another 167 and could not account for some of the other Prescott-autographed cards it made. The company is asking anyone who has received a Prescott autographed card to return it in exchange for a new card featuring Prescott's actual autograph.

Those cards will contain a special hologram to differentiate them from the possibly fraudulent cards.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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