I have been wondering which NFL franchise is the most underachieving?

Thinking about which teams have not played in the Super Bowl, according to my memory, I came up with the following list including their current record for this season:

Houston 1-9
New Orleans 2-8
Arizona 3-7
Cleveland 4-6
Detroit 4-6
Jacksonville 7-3
Seattle 8-2

Jacksonville and Seattle may be spared because of recent performance and having a winner record. But what of the others?

When the NFL continuously exhibits the best in sports, what does it matter who is worst? Because they will be the most ready to try something new in labor relations to create a better team.

Update 11/29/2005: In an AP report on the firing of Lion’s coach Steve Mariucci, Larry Lage reports that Detriot has won only one playoff game since 1957 and that their record of 20-55 since Matt Millen took over as team President in 2001 is the worst in the NFL.

Why do I care about the worst? Because I think that NFL teams are not spending their money wisely on salaries and the worst team should be the first to do something new.

The overriding incentive is to get the players to join the team rather than become a productive member of a successful team. How does winning versus losing impact an individual player’s game check? Further, too much money is paid based upon past performance resulting in overpriced but productive players being cut because of the salary cap. Further, when players are not paid according to their current overperformance, it creates motives for them to find another team who will pay them to join but not perform.

While blocking out for a moment that he is locker-room poison, consider the Terrell Owens issue. If his money had not been guaranteed but paid exclusively on performance, he would not have been complaining about his contract all summer and into the season. Under such a circumstance, the Eagles and Owens would have agreed to shut up and play, but now the situation is shut up and do not play.

How should the contracts be structured for the team ready to win? A few guidelines: (1) if the team loses each player makes the league minimum for that game, (2) if the team wins each player receives a bonus, (3) players would be guaranteed an annual insurance payment for a number of years if an on-field injury ended their career, (4) players would received bonus points based upon individual, squad, and position achievements and any cap money available at the end of the year would be paid out proportionally according to these bonus points. There would be no signing bonuses and no need for agents. Also, draftees should be made free agents if they choose not to abide by the team’s terms.

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