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League proposes rookie wage scale, expense credits

Last week, we reported that the most recent bargaining session between the NFL and the players union entailed the first discussion of financial terms.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the league’s proposal during the November 4 meeting included a rookie wage scale and an adjustment to the current salary-cap system that takes certain expenses into account.

Currently, the player payroll fund arises from revenues only, forcing the 32 teams to run the rest of their businesses with the 40.4 cents on each dollar generated.  Some owners have complained that the retained revenues do not generate in a sufficient profit, after all expenses are paid.

So the new system proposed by the league apparently would be aimed at ensuring that the owners realize an adequate return on their investments.

Though we don’t disagree with the logic, the proposal seems to bolster the union’s position that, in order to fully and fairly assess the situation, the league should open its books.

As to the proposed rookie wage scale, the specifics haven’t been revealed.  Currently, a de facto wage scale has arisen via the slotting process.  Beyond the first ten picks, the league has no issue with the present system.  The concern comes from the windfalls paid to unproven players taken at the top of the draft.

The union has characterized the situation as the league’s problem, presumably in order to ensure that the league will make some sort of equivalent concession in order to fix the flaws in the current system.

Moving forward, it’s possible that little or no specific information will be provided until a deal is done.  We reported that the league and the union have agreed to stop talking to the media about the negotiations, and Mullen obtained quotes confirming the new code of silence.

As NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Mullen, “We are not commenting on the negotiations.” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah offered a similar message.  “The NFLPA is not discussing the CBA negotiations in an effort to maintain the integrity of the talks,” Atallah told Mullen.

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29 Responses to “League proposes rookie wage scale, expense credits”
  1. Strick says: Nov 10, 2009 9:48 AM

    Normally, I would consider ANY rookie wage scale a good thing, but I’ve got a bad feeling about this. I’m going to withhold judgment until I see the specifics.

  2. eaglealan64 says: Nov 10, 2009 9:56 AM

    Sounds good on both fronts.
    Rookie wage scale will still mean excellent rewards for the top picks just not the crazy sums the top 10/15 get at the moment.
    The players will get to keep their current percentage of the pie, so the Union saves face, but the pie will be slightly reduced by deducting certain expenses.

  3. I didn't hear no bell. says: Nov 10, 2009 10:00 AM

    The owners should never have to open their books to the unions. EVER. If the union and players feel underpaid, go play in another league who will pay them more.

  4. DC_Bengals_Fan says: Nov 10, 2009 10:10 AM

    Why not just get rid of the draft? They have a salary cap to level the playing field. If the argument is that the rookies get too much money, let them enter as FAs and compete for jobs alongside the vets. At that point, they’re worth exactly what a team will pay.

  5. pyelor says: Nov 10, 2009 10:48 AM

    I see no reason why a rooking shouldn’t have to start at the bottom like the rest of the world. I would go so far as to suggest that all rookies spend their first two years proving themselves at the veteran minimum salary. After the two years, the team and player work out an interim contract for one more year in order to get a true long-term deal done that’s based on the player’s body of work.
    With this arrangement, there would be no rookie holdouts and the playing field would be leveled for all teams. I was so tired of Eli Manning saying he wouldn’t play for San Diego and demanding to be traded on draft day. Playing in the NFL is an honor. It is not a right of the player. This is one of the few businesses that allow unproven employees to dictate the terms of compensation. That’s ridiculous.

  6. ZombieRevolution says: Nov 10, 2009 10:55 AM

    “…in order to fully and fairly assess the situation, the league should open its books.”
    Because all big businesses open their books to show the employees what the profit margins are. PFT will be doing this shortly…

  7. Krow says: Nov 10, 2009 10:56 AM

    Take the amount paid in the entire 1st round of 2009 as a baseline… and simply distribute it more evenly across all 32 picks.
    There… problem solved. Next question ?

  8. Shadenfreuder says: Nov 10, 2009 10:57 AM

    Well, how about the fans and taxpayers then? Shouldn’t the owners be required to show their books to the people that have subsidized their stadiums? If you’re going to cry poor mouth it is up to you to prove that you’re poor. And no players, no NFL. A lot of these owners have huge debt service and can’t afford a work stoppage. This should get interesting.
    One final thing, the NFL has a great thing going for it right now. These greedy billionaires are just never happy. This is the same mindset that runs rampant on Wall Street. I would miss having football for a season. But I would love to see these guys get their comeuppance.
    “I didn’t hear no bell. says:
    November 10, 2009 10:00 AM
    The owners should never have to open their books to the unions. EVER. If the union and players feel underpaid, go play in another league who will pay them more.”

  9. zappa says: Nov 10, 2009 11:17 AM

    Couldn’t the owners just refuse to pay the rookies the huge sums of the last few years? Couldn’t the owners set a pay scale for rookies at one of the owner meetings and just force feed the “New” pay scale? Then if the owners could stick together and not cave the only options for the rookies would be to re-enter the following years draft. Where again they would just be put back into the “New” system again. When the player has two years of service they would be rewarded with the FA style contract, if they are deemed sponge worthy.

  10. Krow says: Nov 10, 2009 11:19 AM

    Owners are rich. Rich people do not pay taxes or send their kids into the military. They also do not go to prison or work particularly hard. Basically they’re the aristocracy. And they’re not showing their books to the peasants. Welcome to America.

  11. SpartaChris says: Nov 10, 2009 11:21 AM

    @Shadenfreuder-
    No, they should NOT be required to open their books to tax payers or fans. My god, the assertion is absolutely ludicrous. Do you demand EA games to open their books to see if they’re charging too much for the latest Madden? When you go to the grocery store, do you ask them to show you their books to prove you’re paying what you should for beer and chips? Of course not. You pay the price on the sticker. Why should the NFL be any different?
    Your argument “No players, no NFL” could go the other way as well. Without the NFL, what would all of these high priced athletes do to make money? Most of them have what barely amounts to a high school education, so where else would they go to make those millions?
    I don’t get the logic of people who believe no one in business should be allowed to turn a profit and that rich people are evil. I’m sorry, but you aren’t entitled to anything. If you want it, get creative and go work for it.

  12. E4C says: Nov 10, 2009 11:30 AM

    Shadenfreuder: I don’t understand. On the one hand, you claim that the owners are greedy billionaires who deserve their comeuppance. On the other, you claim that they have huge debt and can’t afford a work stoppage. Which is it? Sounds to me like you’re just envious of rich people.

  13. cowboys suck says: Nov 10, 2009 11:31 AM

    Case and point – Jamarcus Russell will get 40 mil gauranteed. And he really really sucks at football. That in itself should tell you, until you prove you can play, you won’t get 40 mil guaranteed. Demarcus Ware…(although he’s a dirty rotten cowboy) … he deserves it cuz he is a great football player. Then you also have the other side where none of the contracts are gauranteed. You can get cut at anytime, you could be an amazing football player and tear an ACL, then you get cut and never see the pay you deserve (see Owen Daniels in March 2010)….I hope the Texans do the right thing and bring him back with a decent contract

  14. Norm3333 says: Nov 10, 2009 11:34 AM

    I find it hilarious that the player’s association would fight a rookie wage scale. My advice to the player’s association is to keep fighting the rookie pay scale. Keep letting the #1 – 5 draft picks, who haven’t played a down, absorb a high percentage of the salary cap. And say goodbye to veteran players. Keep paying rookies a lot of money and keep cutting the veterans. On the flip side, I don’t want to see a 7 year vet whine about getting cut, when he supported the fight against the rookie pay scale.

  15. Krow says: Nov 10, 2009 11:35 AM

    If an aristocrat wants to use the money he and his family have stolen to purchase a football team then I agree that he should not have to open his books to the public.
    But if he wants to levy new money from the peasants/taxpayers then he should be transparent.

  16. davidc45629 says: Nov 10, 2009 11:36 AM

    Poor Krow..suffering from typical class envy. Ask Florio how hard he worked to get where he is now..Ask Bill Gates or Steve Jobs about their 20 hour days building successful companies so that they could purchase a franchise if they chose. Bill Gates didn’t, instead he has given billions away through his foundation. I suspect Krow is a lazy, entitlement wanna give me mine American who will never have anything because he won’t work for it. He wants it given to him.
    The Green Bay franchise is a publicly owned company so their income is available. Since the NFL splits revenue 32 ways why can’t the Green Bay revenue x 32 be a base for the union to confirm NFL profits? Individual team income should never be part of any negotiation.

  17. SpartaChris says: Nov 10, 2009 11:59 AM

    Krow says:
    November 10, 2009 11:19 AM
    Owners are rich. Rich people do not pay taxes or send their kids into the military. They also do not go to prison or work particularly hard. Basically they’re the aristocracy. And they’re not showing their books to the peasants. Welcome to America.
    ======================================================
    What an idiotic statement. You really believe rich people just sit back, put their feet up and don’t pay taxes?
    The difference between rich and poor people can be boiled down to two simple concepts- How they view money and how hard are they willing to work?
    In most cases, rich people work harder than any four people you know combined. They put in more hours, including weekends and holidays and make sacrifices you aren’t willing to make. They’ll give up that night out with friends or that trip to Vegas or that new Hi-Def TV for now, knowing they’ll be able to do and have all of those things to their hearts content later.
    They take risk and aren’t afraid to fail. They persist and find ways to get around obstacles when things get tough whereas most people simply quit because things got hard.
    They value money and choose to purchase assets that put money into their pocket rather than buy things they cannot afford now.
    They also spend more time and money on their financial education. Reading books and magazines on how to create wealth instead of spending all day playing video games and surfing the net.
    Those are just a few differences between the rich and the poor. Judging by your ignorant comment, I can honestly say you’ve probably never bothered to try and succeed at anything in life, which is fine. But don’t blame people who have for your problems.

  18. Mongo says: Nov 10, 2009 12:01 PM

    Krow,
    Either you are just trying to stir things up or you are true idiot (and true idiots are rare).
    1) The rich who you demonize pay the VAST majority of taxes.
    2) Our military is VOLUNTEER so money has nothing to do with it. Each person CHOOSES whether or not they will serve, and my sincerest thanks to those who do.
    3) As far as not going to prison, tell that to Plax, Vick, and Madoff for that matter.
    4) You are not required to show your tax returns (if you even make enough to file them) to anyone else, so why should NFL owners.
    You probably feel entitled to everything even at others expense. You sound like the kind of person squaking about his rights w/o ever considering his responsibilities.
    DC_Bengals fan:
    The draft is supposed to help the bad teams get better, that’s why it should not be eliminated. And, I like watching the 1st rd on TV.
    Zappa:
    Amen: The union has said it’s a problem for the owners, so the owners should insitute the rookie scale w/o the union’s input or support. The union will have no leg to stand on when it complains b\c it has stated before that it doesn’t represent those who are not on a team, i.e. drafted players who have not yet signed a contract. Give the all rookies fixed, slotted contracts w/ incentives for playing time production. Minimal signing bonuses and the players can take out thier own insurance for injury (like the rest of us). The system would make for a much better draft as trades in top of rd 1 would be a lot easier and bad teams wouldn’t get killed for 4-5 yrs if they drafted a player in the top 10 who didn’t work out. There would be no more hold outs and rookies would better prepared to play and unlock those esclators (unlike brady quinn).
    The players need to have their a$$ handed to them, this time just like the owners did last time. Tagliaboooo shafted the owners last time around.
    I’d also like to see the draft before free agency.
    If the owners and players want the high ground (i.e. fan support), they could make a concession on money at the insistance it be used to lower ticket/vending/parking prices. Yes I know, it will NEVER happen.

  19. Joe in Toronto, Canada says: Nov 10, 2009 12:04 PM

    # Krow says: November 10, 2009 11:19 AM
    Owners are rich. Rich people do not pay taxes or send their kids into the military. They also do not go to prison or work particularly hard. Basically they’re the aristocracy. And they’re not showing their books to the peasants. Welcome to America.
    ===================================
    Instead of crying, how about you get off your ass and start your own business then?
    Some of us have taken huge gambles and hold allot of risk on a daily basis.
    But that’s something people like you don’t know anything about, loser.

  20. beretta96 says: Nov 10, 2009 12:46 PM

    There’s no such thing as a broke billionaire, just the margin of profit is not as great as they wanted. If the team is that broke it would be up for sale in a heartbeat. Let’s not forget they were not necessarily born billionaires and would not take a loss on a sports team because they can.
    It’s much like the company I work for…we’re on strike because the company wants big concessions even though they say times are tough. They just made 1.68 BILLION the last quarter. Yes times for them are tough, they could have made 2 BILLION so it’s time to tighten the belt.
    With billionaires it’s not what they don’t have, it’s what they could have.
    In my opinion though, I’m not oposed to players making insane money, just unproven rookies making insane money.

  21. Your comment submission failed for the following reasons: Registration is required. says: Nov 10, 2009 1:18 PM

    “Owners are rich. Rich people do not pay taxes”
    You stupid little shit.
    The top 1% of households pay 39% of total individual income taxes, though accounting for just 19% of total income.
    The top 20% pay 86% of the total tax burden.
    Meanwhile, the bottom 43% have NO federal tax burden.
    http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/15/pf/taxes/who_pays_most_least/index.htm
    Just be grateful that enough of the wealthy continue to live here and tolerate our confiscatory tax system so that morons like yourself can continue to enjoy all those lovely government redistributionist”programs.”

  22. Bigbluefan says: Nov 10, 2009 1:38 PM

    here is a truly radical idea
    Screw the union
    Set a pay scale based on years in the game add a saftey net for injuries other wise pay on production
    If your a RB and your average is 4 yards a carry you get X if its 3 your get Y none of these crazy numbers for unproven aholes
    And for all of you who think the owners make to much go to hell its a business there business there risk
    Try running a business today and see how you feel you have a country that is not spending and a goverment that is taxing more and more
    Soon we will all be out of work
    The team owers are small business men
    Look at the Giants and Jets and all they just invested in a new home
    That was and is a gamble with there money so if they take the risk they make the money if the players dont like it well I am sure there are Gym Teacher jobs all over the country

  23. SpartaChris says: Nov 10, 2009 2:18 PM

    Joe in Toronto, Canada says:
    November 10, 2009 12:04 PM
    Instead of crying, how about you get off your ass and start your own business then?
    Some of us have taken huge gambles and hold allot of risk on a daily basis.
    But that’s something people like you don’t know anything about, loser.
    =======================================
    LOVE IT! Nice job.

  24. SpartaChris says: Nov 10, 2009 2:20 PM

    “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
    –Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, 6 April 1816

  25. Drithe says: Nov 10, 2009 2:28 PM

    Most football players dont even last 3 years in the league. How can you justify not given the new talent any money just because they are rookies?
    What they need to do is REMOVE THE GUARANTEED stuff and pay ONLY on the merits of how they play, given into effect sickness or even one bad game or 2 a year.
    But to say a rookie cant make 10 million a year is crazy imo. The YOUNG RULE THIS LEAGUE. Not the old. Someone who has been in the league 10 years KNOW it is almost their time to go. They also know they cant play anywhere near as good as the younger guys. Yet still some of you think they deserve to get paid more? NO SIR!! This is not some blue collar smuck job. It is the NFL!!!
    End of Line.

  26. Joe in Toronto, Canada says: Nov 10, 2009 5:46 PM

    SpartaChris: There seems to be a general attitude going around lately, basically that if someone has money, those who don’t are entitled to it.
    In a word, socialism.
    What these imbeciles fail to understand though is that when there is no longer incentive for people with the balls and brains needed to grow a business, we ALL become a nation(s) of followers with no one left to lead.
    It’s gettin ugly out there.

  27. Shadenfreuder says: Nov 10, 2009 6:13 PM

    @SpartaChris
    I said that anybody that takes PUBLIC money to build a stadium should be required to open their books to the PUBLIC that subsidized them. Go ahead sycophant, shoot that logic down.
    Also, if the NFL dissolved because of a labor stoppage, some other entity would emerge to take its place. Of course, that entity would not be guaranteed success. So it is in the players’ best interest to reach an agreement if they want to continue making the money they do. At the same time it is encombant on the owners to do so too. But not one owner has said that they are losing money. They are saying they are not making enough.
    Pardon me if I don’t believe them. Also, half the owners made money the old-fashioned way-they inherited it.

  28. Your comment submission failed for the following reasons: Registration is required. says: Nov 10, 2009 8:55 PM

    “half the owners made money the old-fashioned way-they inherited it.”
    Which half would that be? Sounds like you have a statistic to back you up, surely you’re not engaging in hyperbole.
    “But not one owner has said that they are losing money.”
    And they never will. If you don’t understand why, then bone up on your understanding of labor law and collective bargaining.

  29. Mongo says: Nov 11, 2009 11:35 AM

    @Shadenfreuder
    “I said that anybody that takes PUBLIC money to build a stadium should be required to open their books to the PUBLIC that subsidized them. Go ahead sycophant, shoot that logic down.”
    Easy: The owner asked for and was GIVEN public money by the voters. The owner did not TAKE it from the public. You can’t give and THEN ask for conditions. If the public wants to see the books BEFORE voting, so be it. NO dice on demanding afterward.

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