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Report: NFL rejects three-year limit on rookie deals

Even after LeBron makes his plans known tonight (maybe he’ll be joining the cast of Jersey Shore and from this point forward be known simply as “The Decision”), there’s still a far more important contract being negotiated in the sports world.

It’s the labor deal between the NFL and the players’ union.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the NFLPA has proposed a maximum three-year limit on all rookie deals.  Per Mullen (and not surprisingly), the league rejected that proposal.

But it’s dangerous to look at these issues in isolation.  Surely, there’s a set of circumstances in which the league would agree to a three-year limit on rookie deals.  If, for example, it gets the players to dial back their cut of the pie by 18 percent and a true rookie wage scale is adopted and each team would have three or four franchise tags based on the average of the 30 highest-paid players at the position, maybe three-year deals would be acceptable.

Currently, teams may sign the first 16 players picked to maximum deals of six years.  Most of the top 16 players, however, sign five-year deals.  For the balance of round one, five years is the limit.

After round one, the maximum length of all rookie deals is four years.

Prior to 2006, when the union successfully placed a four-year limit on non-first-round deals, plenty of players taken after round three signed three-year deals.  Even now, a few teams (most notably the Steelers) will do three-year deals for players taken after round two.

So we could envision the league agreeing to a three-year limit for rounds three or four and onward — if restricted free agency still applies.

And speaking of free agency, the length of the rookie deals doesn’t matter if four or five (or, as in the uncapped year, six) years of service will be required before a player becomes an unrestricted free agent.  That’s the far bigger issue right now.  Completing a contract is fine, but if it doesn’t get the player to the open market, completing the contract really doesn’t matter.

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18 Responses to “Report: NFL rejects three-year limit on rookie deals”
  1. WildBirdOffense says: Jul 8, 2010 3:35 PM

    “The Decision”? Really? You’re jokes are horrible old man.

  2. Dealer says: Jul 8, 2010 3:36 PM

    If they restrict the size of a players signing bonus, and their contract isn’t guaranteed, it only gets worse for players.
    Franchise tag of 30 highest paid players at the position? So the average of starters in the league? How is that fair for a team to pay an elite athlete the same as everyone else and give them no options?

  3. aec4 says: Jul 8, 2010 3:38 PM

    Jets signed their 2nd round pick to a 4 year deal, so you may want to rethink one of your sentences above.

  4. Ken West says: Jul 8, 2010 3:38 PM

    I thought the issue was with the top 8 picks not the entire system.
    If the two sides go tit for tat over every detail, even the ones that clearly don’t matter we wont have football next year.

  5. edgy says: Jul 8, 2010 3:49 PM

    Isn’t it actually no more than 4 years after the first round? I know that teams generally sign their 6th and 7th rounders for no more than 3 years but they can sign them up to 4 years, right?

  6. TampaBayBucs6and10 says: Jul 8, 2010 3:53 PM

    I can not wait for a real game to take place. Please Please Please make it September already.

  7. recent says: Jul 8, 2010 4:09 PM

    “After round one, the maximum length of all rookie deals is three years.”
    This should be 4, as the rest of the article doesn’t make sense if the current max length after round 1 is 3 years (not to mention all the 4 year deals out there for late rounders).

  8. DB26 says: Jul 8, 2010 4:24 PM

    DON’T agree to this NFL. It is one of the main issues with the NBA & makes the draft pretty much insignificant as well as the sport not worth following.
    Wouldn’t it be nice to see the League & Players get together & do what is right for the game of football & the fans that pay for it, with their own money being secondary to the equation!

  9. Harm City Homer says: Jul 8, 2010 4:33 PM

    That is why it is always wrong to complain about the size of “rookie contracts” since they last 4-6 years.
    There has to be a trade off for getting drafted by one team instead of applying for a job with all of them and going to the higest bidder or best fit.

  10. lololnpnp says: Jul 8, 2010 4:52 PM

    JoeFlaccosUniBrow says:
    July 8, 2010 4:04 PM
    I thought “The Decision” joke was pretty good.
    —————————–
    Great. Its comments like this which actually give the writer a false sense of hope. Either you have a horrible sense of humor or I lack one…based on Florio’s track record I’ll side with the former.

  11. Duan says: Jul 8, 2010 5:34 PM

    My biggest gripe with the NFL right now, is that there is no Rookie payscale.
    Too much money for unproven talent!

  12. stanjam says: Jul 8, 2010 6:49 PM

    The three year deal has some merit, especially if you add to that a decent structure to rookie salaries. Structure how much rookies can make based on their draft position, and give them three years (though four makes more sense for round one). That way the teams can spend more money on their veterans, and the rookies have to play three years for less (though decent) money until they can prove that they can play at the NFL level.
    Everybody makes out here, except for the rookies who plan on milking their rookie contract for everything it is worth, while at the same time not playing at a decent level. No longer will the first few picks be able to decide to just not work at it. They will be forced to play at a high level if they EVER want to see that big contract. At the same time, they will not have to wait seven years to get there.

  13. Mark0226 says: Jul 8, 2010 7:13 PM

    The rookie contract problem goes both ways. Some players are overpaid for their potential based on their draft status and not actual performance on the field, and some players are underpaid because they actually perform on the field. The good thing about a shorter contract is that the player/team can re-negotiate a new deal relatively quickly with actual performance experience. The problem is that the team that drafted and developed the player may lose their best players without compensation.
    Personally, I think solution is for contracts to have some base salary and escalators based on playing time and performance. I’m not sure how you do that within the context of a salary cap since the players’ pay will be variable, but this will solve the problem of both the under-performers and the over-performers. This also solves the problem of starters versus backups. If there is a QB controversy and the backup moves to a starting role, then he will be collecting the performance based pay, while the former starter will not. This avoids the backups being payed more than the starters.
    Signing bonuses should not be a windfall, but commensurate with draft status or recent performance. Contracts should be guaranteed for the entire duration to protect the player and the team, but only the base salaries. If they are cut or not performing, then there are no escalators being reached.

  14. Treezs says: Jul 8, 2010 7:49 PM

    I thought “The Decision” joke was pretty good.
    ——————– ———
    Great. Its comments like this which actually give the writer a false sense of hope. Either you have a horrible sense of humor or I lack one…based on Florio’s track record I’ll side with the former.
    _______
    You both got the joke, you lose.

  15. bluestree says: Jul 8, 2010 7:51 PM

    “Wouldn’t it be nice to see the League & Players get together & do what is right for the game of football & the fans that pay for it, with their own money being secondary to the equation!”
    —————————————
    The league wants concessions from the players. They are not giving up anything. They feel like they can lock the players out, and the players will cave. And they are probably right, half the people on here think the players are threatening a strike.

  16. ICDogg says: Jul 8, 2010 8:05 PM

    My counteroffer would be to accept the 3 years for rookie deals but only if they also accept a 3 year limit for ALL deals. That is, no contract can go beyond the current season plus two more. That way no one gets stuck with an underachiever for too long.

  17. Caldon says: Jul 8, 2010 9:38 PM

    The problem with the 3 year deal is most agree that year 3 is when the “light goes on” for players such as WR’s, QB’s and others as a general statement. So teams develop players and then right as the light bulb goes off the player gets to free agency? I think 3 is too short and 4 seems about right if you wanted to limit contract years.

  18. BK5931 says: Jul 9, 2010 7:38 AM

    If this would happen good bye to drafting QB’s in the first round, it takes 2 years just to develop them!

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