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St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford 12th highest paid athlete in 2011

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To heck with A-Rod, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman and free-agent-to-be Albert Pujols may just want a contract that pays him as the St. Louis Rams second-year QB, Sam Bradford. According to Sports Illustrated's list of the 50 highest paid American athletes for 2011.

The first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft sits in the 12th spot, with a total of $27.25 million. Pujols is at #26 with a paltry $21 million. When and if Pujols gets A-Rod money as a free agent, he'll probably top the Rams QB in 2012. Most of Bradford's salary this year comes in the form of bonuses, an $18 million option bonus and an $8.4 million roster bonus. 

Only three NFL players rank higher than Bradford in pay for 2011, Peyton Manning, #4; Matt Ryan, #8 and Tom Brady, #9. For Manning and Brady, they get a sizable share of their income from endorsements, $15 million and $10 million, respectively. Bradford has just $450,000 in endorsements this year; Axe apparently doesn't pay all that well.

While NFL owners and players hammer out a new CBA, it stands to reason that a rookie salary scale, a more reasonable one, will be part of it. That means Bradford will probably own the record for the biggest rookie contract in history. 

No doubt the system needs to be fixed, but as I've said before, Bradford is being asked to rejuvenate a franchise. The coaches and front office can only do so much before it comes down to winning on the field. Winning takes talent.