As the NFL moves toward the final year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which absent a new deal will entail no salary cap, the league also has the ability, if it so chooses, to scuttle the rookie pool.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that, with the uncapped year, Commissioner Roger Goodell could opt to pull the plug on the rookie pool.
Though there’s no true rookie wage scale (yet), the CBA has included since the advent of the salary cap a device for limiting the money paid to rookies. However, teams and agents have found ways to undermine the rookie pool, and to funnel exorbitant amounts of money to players picked at the top of the draft.
Still, there’s no reason (unless we’re missing something) for the teams to want to dump the rookie pool. It’s a maximum not a minimum, and its presence will keep players and agents from attempting to blow out rookie deals in an environment without a spending limit of any kind.
In fact, the only teams that might prefer no rookie pool would be the 49ers and the team to which the Niners possibly would be trading the rights to Michael Crabtree as of March 1 or thereafter. With a rookie pool in 2010, no extra money would be available to sign any holdover draft picks from 2009. Without a rookie pool, there would be no cap on his contract.
Still, we’d be shocked if the league discontinues a device that serves only to benefit management.
But, as usual, what the hell do we know?