Though the NFL has yet to implement an NBA-style rookie wage scale, which leaves little room for negotiation and prevents lottery-prize contracts at the top of the draft, the league uses a broader formula for limiting the money that a team can devote to its entire class of first-year players. It’s officially known as the “Entering Player Pool”; it’s more commonly known as the rookie pool.
There was a report during the 2009 season that the NFL has the ability to kill the rookie pool in the uncapped year.
And the report was accurate; Article XVII, Section 2 of the CBA allows the NFL to pull the plug on the rookie pool by giving notice to the NFLPA at least 60 days before the draft of an intention to do so. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello recently told us that the league did not terminate the rookie pool, and so it will apply in 2010, even without a salary cap.
Actually, the league has had the ability to terminate the rookie pool every year under the current CBA, but the league hasn’t done it. Even with a rookie pool, the guys taken at the top of the draft are still getting, in the opinion of the league, way too much money. Without the limitation, the spending would have gone even more haywire.
The development is causing even more frustration among league insiders who believe that the rules of the uncapped year too heavily favor the league. We’ll be addressing that issue in further detail later today, or maybe tomorrow. If we remember.