Chat recap: That toxic No. 1 pick

March, 16, 2009
3/16/09
4:15
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Thanks to everyone for contributing to the huge turnout in Monday's SportsNation chat, which I'm sure had everything to do with me and nothing with Jay Cutler. I thought Ryan of Wisconsin brought up a fair caveat to my point from earlier Monday, when I suggested the Lions' financial burden would be no different if they traded for Cutler than if they drafted Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick.

Ryan (WI): so if the Lions somehow can get Cutler and extend him at 30 mil guaranteed, they still have to pay "someone" at that number one spot, presumably another 25 mil guaranteed at least, even if it isn't Stafford, so it's not like they're off the hook for that money (unless they trade that #1 overall to Denver)

SportsNation Kevin Seifert: Very true and a good point. But I guess I'm saying I'd rather pay $30 million to Cutler than $30-plus million to Stafford.

Ultimately, however, Ryan's point leads us in an interesting direction. Could we see counterintuitive trade parameters forming, where the No. 1 pick adds too much value to a package?

The truth of the matter is some teams are happy not to have the No. 1 pick. The top spot is so visible and pressure-packed that it can make or break careers. Part of it is the money involved, thanks to a rookie wage scale that puts Stafford in line to receive as much guaranteed money as an established Pro Bowl starter. It's much safer, and often a far lesser risk, to have a lower spot.

So in this case, would the Broncos want the No. 1 overall pick in return for Cutler, especially considering the split opinions on Stafford's NFL aptitude? And would the Lions agree to a deal if they couldn't unload the top pick?

I wouldn't blame the Lions if they wanted to avoid signing Cutler and choosing in the first spot of the draft, a scenario that would force them to commit to at least $55 million in guaranteed money. From the other perspective, the Broncos might well prefer the Lions' No. 20 overall pick along with a second- or third-round selection.

We're just having some fun here in discussing a scenario that has not yet been broached. But if the Lions and Broncos end up in substantive negotiations for Cutler, you wonder whether the No. 1 overall pick will be a deal-clincher -- or a deal-breaker.

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