In December 2008, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the current system for changing rookie pay would not change until 2011.
Apparently, there’s been a calendar malfunction at 280 Park Avenue.
Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the league has proposed the implementation of a rookie wage scale for the April 2010 draft. She also reports that the NFLPA has responded with a proposal that would change the structure of the rookie deals beginning in 2010, too.
The league’s proposal, per Mullen, would pay players a fixed amount based on draft slot, with a “significant” portion of the savings being distributed to retired players. The NFLPA responded Tuesday with a proposed three-year limit on rookie contracts, along with a two-year extension to the current labor deal and a commitment by the owners to match the payment to the retired players arising from the contribution flowing from the savings in rookie pay.
It’s safe to assume that the league won’t agree to an extension of the labor contract merely in order to cap rookie pay. The owners are poised and motivated to attempt to make major changes to the system for paying all players, and there’s a sense on the management side of the table that the players are on the ropes. A request to hit the pause button for two years will do little to alter that perception.
The league apparently would like to work out a new system for paying rookies separate and apart from the broader labor deal. The union surely would prefer to resolve all issues at once.
The situation has little relevance to players currently trying to decide whether to give up any remaining college eligibility, since a change in 2010 will affect them regardless of whether they come out now or later.
But given the chance that the slowly-falling stone door won’t hit the floor before April, some players might decide to try to slide under it by leaving school now.