By Ashley Scoby
ESPN put together a list of the 20 worst “dead money” deals in sports. And out of the dozens of teams that could have been represented on the list (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL teams across the country), two Detroit teams made the cut.
Sliding in at No. 18 was the Tigers’ deal with Prince Fielder. According to the article, Fielder still had seven years and $168 million left on the contract, and the Tigers gave the Rangers $30 million to take Fielder – “one of the largest investments a trading team has ever made to get rid of a player.”
Fielder was shipped to Texas after the 2013 season, when the Tigers lost in the AL championship series. In two seasons, Fielder had a .295 batting average, 55 home runs and 201 strikeouts for Detroit.
The Pistons were represented in the top 10, at No. 8. Their bloated, $54 million contract with Josh Smith that he signed before 2013 is still being paid out by the front office. When Smith was released (he now plays for the Clippers), the Pistons still owed him $25 million over the next two seasons. Detroit will still be writing checks to the forward through 2020, according to ESPN.
While he was in Detroit, Smith shot 41 percent and averaged 15.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 105 games.
Detroit can take heart in its neighbors to the south, at least. Notre Dame is still breaking the bank for its former head coach, Charlie Weis. He stayed for five seasons and was let go in 2009. According to ESPN, the school (which is a private school and doesn’t have to disclose exact figures) will likely pay him close to $50 million in buyout money, which is the richest firing in sports history.
Weis is now getting more money from buyouts than most people will make in their entire lives: After the Kansas City Chiefs fired him not long afterwards, the team wrote him checks for nearly $6 million, since he still had two years left in his contract.