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League proposes immediate changes to rookie pay

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.

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42 Responses to “League proposes immediate changes to rookie pay”
  1. dawgfan says: Jan 14, 2010 1:24 PM

    As a 51 year old life long NFL fan I have said all along that rookies should come in with a base salary laced with lucrative incentives…
    There have been far too many busts in the NFL that have drained teams of millions…
    This just makes good business sense…

  2. JSpicoli says: Jan 14, 2010 1:26 PM

    About friggin time.
    The albatross that a #1 pick becomes is a hindrance to a team drafting there. Only if you win the crapshoot that is drafting first rounders do you benefit, otherwise it is a lead balloon on an already struggling franchise.

  3. theTRUTHwillSETuFREE says: Jan 14, 2010 1:27 PM

    Can we dubb this the “Russell Rule”?? Well I guess one good thing came out of Jamarcus Russell signing his 30 mil guaranteed to warm the bench for the Raiders. Hopefully soon we wont have to deal with this crap anymore. Seriously how much better would teams be, if they didnt have to use 30% of their cap room on an un-proven college player.
    The Players Union should be all for this as it will save that money for the proven vetrans in the NFL. Both sides should agree on this fast!!

  4. rjgreen3 says: Jan 14, 2010 1:28 PM

    this would eliminate teams getting strapped with contracts like Jabooboo Russell’s. these kids are getting paid more than proven veterans!

  5. bornman3 says: Jan 14, 2010 1:32 PM

    After Ryan Leaf and Jamarcus Russell, I think a lot of fans are in favor of a rookie wage scale. This issue is definitely one that the NFLPA will not look good arguing.

  6. jwill007 says: Jan 14, 2010 1:32 PM

    This should have been happened…Raise your hand if you are happy with the contracts for Jamarcus Russell??? or how about Vernon Gholston???? Shall I keep going???? LOL

  7. scomibord says: Jan 14, 2010 1:32 PM

    So what happens to the ones who declared early to get that payday they were expecting. Now that they won’t get that mega-payday can they go back to college or are they locked in to the draft???

  8. KingJoe! says: Jan 14, 2010 1:34 PM

    Bradford, Tewbow and McCoy really really really are set to lose 20 millions dollars each. Oh the horror! Blast the allure of a another year in college … and without a championship or heisman.

  9. Rick says: Jan 14, 2010 1:34 PM

    there is no way an unproven rookie should be given an obscene amount of money while proven veterans get squeezed due to salary cap issues arising from rookie contracts, especially the rookies who become a bust and kill a team’s cap

  10. 69ers says: Jan 14, 2010 1:36 PM

    The “Jemarcus Russell Rule”?

  11. EdR says: Jan 14, 2010 1:41 PM

    Oh blast! Now Bradford, Tebow and McCoy will have to earn the 20 million dollars.

  12. blackandteal says: Jan 14, 2010 1:42 PM

    If the NFLPA wants the fans on their side they need to concede this issue quickly.

  13. EaglesFan says: Jan 14, 2010 1:42 PM

    Although I support this, I must admit that this news has thrown me for a loop. I remember Goodell making promises to all the people considering declaring last year to keep a landslide of people from coming out.
    Now this???? Yeah, think of all the guys, and agents, that must be absoultely feeling sick right now, with seemingly no recourse.
    Not that I feel sorry for the agents, I have more contemp for them than lawyers and slightly above politicians.

  14. buckifan4life says: Jan 14, 2010 1:45 PM

    Duh!
    I’m shocked it took them THIS long to cap rookies who get paid Millions and haven’t done a damn thing on the field!
    Good move Goodell and if you gotta lock’em out, lock’em out til it gets DONE!

  15. Kellar_2 says: Jan 14, 2010 1:53 PM

    A rookie pay scale is a great idea, but capping deals at three years will turn the NFL into the trade and FA happy NBA. It will make it much harder for smaller market teams and unsuccessful teams to turn their fortunes around bc they could lose all of their talent in three years

  16. dcfan-1212450 says: Jan 14, 2010 2:01 PM

    This might be the only thing that does get done in these labor negotiations which is rather odd. No, Alex Smith doesn’t deserve his paycheck, nor do other rookies who dont even play that first season, so it does make sense. Hope it works out.

  17. JSpicoli says: Jan 14, 2010 2:04 PM

    A rookie pay scale will also loosen up trades in the first round. No one wants to trade up nowadays unless a franchise QB is at stake, or you are ready to marry Rickey Williams.

  18. beretta96 says: Jan 14, 2010 2:09 PM

    The “Ryan Russel Rule”
    Boy did Stafford slide under the wire didn’t he? In all reality, I’d be surprised if it happens this year.

  19. KILLER FIN says: Jan 14, 2010 2:24 PM

    IT IS ABOUT TIME!!! but I’ll bet it won’t be organized till next year!!!

  20. DocBG says: Jan 14, 2010 2:27 PM

    If the draft is supposed to help crappy teams get more competitive, then this will help get it going in the right direction.
    If the NFLPA is ran by the players agents, then this will be a HUGE issue, and they won’t concede it without massive consession elsewhere, which is what it sounds like they are doing. They still want the owners to spend just as much money, just not on their current players.
    Agents and lawyers ruin things at an incredible pace, look at what the ACLU has done to the US…

  21. ShootahCowboy says: Jan 14, 2010 2:28 PM

    Jerry Jones has said that a top 5 draft pick being a bust could set a franchise back 5 years.
    Hopefully this will lessen the blow…

  22. Reinholdmessner says: Jan 14, 2010 2:30 PM

    you can’t do that AFTER underclassmen have already declared. That may have changed several of their decisions. No way this happens in 2010.

  23. gopher says: Jan 14, 2010 2:31 PM

    The rookies are going to get a cut in pay from their college days.

  24. kcchiefs70 says: Jan 14, 2010 2:37 PM

    It’s like I always said…
    1st rounders 3 million for 3 years
    2nd rounders 2 million for 3 years
    3rd rounders 1 million for 3 years
    4th rounders 750k for 3 years
    5th rounders 500 k for 3 years
    6th rounders 400 k for 3 years
    7th rounders 300 k for 3 years
    No hold outs and all draft choices signed the day after the draft. No crying about geting hurt in 1st year. Hell I’m still waiting to win 300 k in the lottery!!!!!!!!

  25. Tdk24 says: Jan 14, 2010 2:50 PM

    It won’t happen. Agents have the most to lose. And they represent just about everyone that has anything to do with the NFL.

  26. Drithe says: Jan 14, 2010 2:52 PM

    I hope you realize the rookie cap may indeed hurt the NFL if it is too low. Profootball is the most body shattering sport we have and football players dont have long to play, usually, because of these injuries.
    More athletes, imo, will move to baseball or , god forbid, basketbal when the cap hits.
    End of Line.

  27. We need linemen says: Jan 14, 2010 3:09 PM

    About time, the magnitude of first round contracts have been rediculous for years. It’s incredible that nothings been done yet. The current system screws both the owners and the majority of the players. The only people it benefits are agents, lawyers and a handful of college stars.
    Then again, may be the reason they are talking about moving it forward a year is because, without a new CBA, this might be the last draft
    http://www.profootballweekly.com/2009/05/11/future-of-nfl-draft-is-in-jeopardy

  28. Tdk24 says: Jan 14, 2010 3:19 PM

    “Then again, may be the reason they are talking about moving it forward a year is because, without a new CBA, this might be the last draft”
    I love it! Got Richard Seymour for nothing! Let’s hope this happens! But it doesn’t really matter since it’s only moved up a year, i mean, we all know 2012 was going to be the last draft. LOL.

  29. leatherneck says: Jan 14, 2010 3:38 PM

    Wow. After all those college players declared early, partially for reasons of greed and avarice, this happens.
    Ouch.

  30. leatherneck says: Jan 14, 2010 3:39 PM

    By the way, how bad does Bradford’s decision to not declare early last year look now?
    That decision probably cost him $20 million or so. He probably needs to get new advisors.

  31. TheBaySay says: Jan 14, 2010 3:41 PM

    This is why there is little reason for businesses today to be afraid of unions. You just find a way to turn the old workers against the new workers to get the language in the deal you want. And then of course the old workers can be gotten rid of later after the deal has been approved. And the beat(down) goes on…

  32. Plankshelmet says: Jan 14, 2010 3:47 PM

    Good. Then maybe Jerry Angelo will stop trading 1st and 2nd round picks away.

  33. MrHumble says: Jan 14, 2010 3:49 PM

    The rookie pay scale hurt all the veteran players so it’s a no brainer that they would be for it….the union can blow smoke all they want but no one is going to take them serious. The owners hold all the cards. I do agree some bigtime money needs to go to the retired players fund.

  34. Bill Cowher's Chin says: Jan 14, 2010 4:08 PM

    # Tdk24 says: January 14, 2010 2:50 PM
    It won’t happen. Agents have the most to lose. And they represent just about everyone that has anything to do with the NFL.
    __________________________________
    It isnt going to hurt the agents at all. Whatever money the agents lose from negotiating rookie contracts, they are going to gain with negotiating veteran contracts. Teams have always been willing to shell out big money for proven players, and teams have been trading down in the draft to avoid paying unproven rookies.
    The only people that are going to lose out on this, is the players that turn out to be a bust anyway

  35. Bill Cowher's Chin says: Jan 14, 2010 4:12 PM

    # Kellar_2 says: January 14, 2010 1:53 PM
    A rookie pay scale is a great idea, but capping deals at three years will turn the NFL into the trade and FA happy NBA. It will make it much harder for smaller market teams and unsuccessful teams to turn their fortunes around bc they could lose all of their talent in three years
    ____________________________________
    Your over all point is true, but 3 years is a number that they have to agree on. If you make it 5 years, that means a rookie is going to have to play 5 years before he can make his break through pay day. If you settle on 3 years, players are still young enough to earn their pay day, but have also played long enough to prove their worth. If I was the NFLPA, I would never agree to anything longer than 3 years, for the benefit of the rookies. The average life span of an NFL career is only something like 3 years to begin with…..

  36. jc20 says: Jan 14, 2010 4:16 PM

    The smartest thing I’ve read so far is that rookie contracts should be loaded with incentives. Give first rounders a reward for the hard work it took to get them in the position to be drafted. Then load the contracts with on and off-field incentives.
    Stafford will be a good QB in this league one day but No one is worth the money they paid him.

  37. dawgfan says: Jan 14, 2010 4:27 PM

    A BASE Salary… WITH INCENTIVES will pay the talent what they are worth… if they aren’t ready and have to sit for a year… Base Salary… if they come out of the box like a Joe Thomas or Alex Mack… kick in a couple extra hundred thousand…
    The main problem is the amount we are talking to pay these guys… I’m a damn good steel worker but I don’t make 5 million a year to work half a year… It’s time to reign in salaries in every sport… period… It’s getting regawddamdiculous!!

  38. packerfanfornot4life says: Jan 14, 2010 7:10 PM

    ‘Can we dubb this the “Russell Rule”?? Well I guess one good thing came out of Jamarcus Russell signing his 30 mil guaranteed to warm the bench for the Raiders. Hopefully soon we wont have to deal with this crap anymore. Seriously how much better would teams be, if they didnt have to use 30% of their cap room on an un-proven college player’
    I understand you didn’t want to draft ‘juhmaucus’ russell, he is a great playah, Get over it!!
    seriously, what other job but in pro sports does someone fresh from college get paid higher salaries without ever proven to be able to do their job than someone who has done it well for years???

  39. MasterShake says: Jan 14, 2010 10:00 PM

    Owners pay the people to scout and draft. Owners then pay said players.
    Now the owners are tired of making bad decisions so they put a cap on their stupidity?
    Looks like a lot of incompetent owners to me. Something smells on this one.

  40. edgy1957 says: Jan 14, 2010 10:59 PM

    I can’t help and laugh at you guys. Do you think that JR or RL where the first ever busts in the first round? At best, a cap will allow teams to trade their high draft picks for what would be lower ones and what makes you think that they will be able to do any better with a couple of choices when they couldn’t do it with one.
    The good thing about a salary cap is that it gets these guys into camp ON TIME. This is what hurt Russell (that and having a snot-nosed kid as his QB coach). Of course, if Al Davis wasn’t so stupid and had signed him before the draft like a lot of other teams, he wouldn’t have had him hold out until after the season started AND if he had hired a veteran coach, who would have put together a veteran staff that would have given JR some tough love — things would be much different.
    What makes me laugh about all of this is that I’ve seen some of you guys talk BEFORE THIS about how this would allow teams to spend more of their money on their veterans. While they may divert a “significant portion” of what they’ve saved to retired players, that may be 20-30% and they will keep the rest for themselves.

  41. jmwsnu1 says: Jan 16, 2010 9:02 AM

    Big move in the right direction! The owners take a considerable risk signing these guys – do you guys really think there is no risk for the owners? The small market teams can’t afford these ever inflating contracts – The risk is the owners; stadiums, ever growing cost of insurance, advertising, coaches, even typical staff. the game’s popularity allows them to get big money from tv, big corporate sky boxes, field boxes, etc…but the players only know how to complain. Why should they be allowed to see the owners books? (c. finnegan) I’ve never seen my employers financials and then say – well, since you make THAT much I need a raise… nevermind individual players are only a very small piece of the franchise.

  42. NY#1fan says: Jan 24, 2010 5:01 AM

    KCCHIEFS70 has a great idea. However the college free agents need to be included in KC’s plan. I kike it!!!

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