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Tony Gonzalez calls current rookie pay scale “absolutely ridiculous”

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As an 11-time Pro Bowler, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has made a lot of money in his NFL career. But he’s never signed a contract as lucrative as the one Sam Bradford signed as the first overall pick in last year’s draft, before he had ever played a down in the NFL. And Gonzalez says it’s past time for that to change.

“For a rookie to come in and make $60-70 million guaranteed, I say — and everybody can agree with that — is absolutely ridiculous,” Gonzalez said on Sports Talk Radio 610 in Houston, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They have not played a down on that field. You might as well take that money and give that to the veterans and maybe that solves some type of problem where we do give back a little bit to the ownership.”

Gonzalez says everyone can agree that it’s time for a rookie wage scale, and yet so far the owners and and the players haven’t implemented such a system. The NFL has reportedly proposed diverting $300 million from rookie pay into veteran pay, but we won’t know until the lockout ends whether such a system will be implemented.

“I don’t know what’s going on with these negotiations,” Gonzalez said. “Maybe it has been bought up. Maybe they can’t do it for whatever reason, but it seems like the common-sense answer right there.”

Gonzalez is right: The common-sense answer is for players to earn their pay, and for proven veterans to make more money than unproven rookies. If the owners and the players can’t come up with a way to reign in spending on rookies and use the savings to reward veterans, it would be absolutely ridiculous.

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51 Responses to “Tony Gonzalez calls current rookie pay scale “absolutely ridiculous””
  1. cdjones34 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:22 PM

    Good to know that over a month later the players still have no idea what offer the NFl put on the table, including changes to the current rookie wage scale. How are they suppose to get a deal done with nobody directly involved being informed???? WTF

  2. indycolt45 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:22 PM

    “And the winner of the ‘No **** Shirlock, This Is What We’ve All Been Saying for Years” award goes to…Tony Gonzalez!!

  3. mhs8031 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:23 PM

    That is what the owners are proposing. They should call it the Jamarcus Russell Pay Scale in the event anyone wants to ever question it.

  4. Kave Krew says: Apr 23, 2011 12:24 PM

    Tony, see Jerry Rice’s comments on football issues and take notes.

    He is a pro and you are a joe when it comes to commentaries.

    Sign up for this blog and join all the other joes

  5. kevinbmorrison says: Apr 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    This shows a complete lack of understanding of simple economics on the part of Tony Gonzalez. If the owners are willing to pay these rookies all this money, that is their value. The ridiculous part is limiting these 21-22 year old kids to one employer in their field of work with whom they can negotiate.

    I would propose abolishing the draft altogether, and allow all entering amateur players to be true free agents. That will determine how much they are “worth.” It will also create a lot of interest in the sport beyond the one day frenzy that the draft is.

  6. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: Apr 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    I am S H O C K E D !!!!!!!!!!!

    Finally, A player that has common sense!!!!! Not many class act players like Tony Gonzalez, and he is surely one of the very few that has smarts.
    Put Tony on the negotiating committee IMMEDIATLY and get rid of Brees.

  7. darthhitman says: Apr 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    & Diva Dez wonders why he bought everyone dinner last year lol. He’s one of the few on the roster that could afford that dinner on day 1

  8. davesbeard says: Apr 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    My impression was that this issue was essentially solved during the mediated talks and both sides were pushing for roughly the same thing. All goes out the window if Kessler has his way however.

  9. patsforever says: Apr 23, 2011 12:31 PM

    Another NFL player that has no idea what his representation is doing on his behalf…

  10. snowpea84 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:32 PM

    I cannot imagine how the rookie pay does not get fixed. It’s something that not only needs to happen, but that there is every reason for the two sides to both support.
    It would make the draft so much more itneresting. The top pick wouldnt be so daunting and potentially decade ruining.

  11. berniemadoffsides says: Apr 23, 2011 12:32 PM

    Then what is everyone waiting for? What is holding this up….?

  12. packersareandwillalwaysbebetterthanthebears says: Apr 23, 2011 12:35 PM

    Pretty sure the Raiders would agree with him.

  13. themohel says: Apr 23, 2011 12:35 PM

    The trouble is that Mr. Gonzalez has given up his right to collectively bargain and has placed (thru his vote to decertify) his complete faith in the named plaintiffs. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr. Kessler, is actually arguing to expand the very thing Mr. Gonzalez says everyone can agree to adjust (high rookie guaranteed contracts). If he gets what he is arguing for, rookie contracts for unproven players perceived to be future stars will grow. Those that would have been selected in the lower rounds will make a lot less than is currently the case. Yet Mr. Gonzalez thinks it should be the other way around – talk to your lawyer, sir….

  14. wawa33 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:36 PM

    Out of touch Gonzalez should pose nude with his wife, like with PETA, to call attention to this heinous millionaire rookie wage scale.

  15. riverhorsey says: Apr 23, 2011 12:41 PM

    most people would agree with that

  16. georgegabriel9 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:46 PM

    Part of me thinks he is right, and the other part of me just gets annoyed that these guys are complaining over money when they make more a year than we do in our lifetime.

  17. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: Apr 23, 2011 12:46 PM

    “I don’t know what’s going on with these negotiations,” Gonzalez said. “Maybe it has been bought up. Maybe they can’t do it for whatever reason, but it seems like the common-sense answer right there.”

    ***************************************
    Tony, the problem is that too many of your fellow co-workers(players) are listening to that ambulance chaser DEmo Smith. If players like yourself made sure that DEmo knows that he is working for YOU, and voiced your opinions upon him a lil more strongly instead of blindly following him and his advice, then you would be better off.

  18. EJ says: Apr 23, 2011 12:49 PM

    There should of been a rookie wage scale set years ago. No one man is worth the amount of money Sam Bradford took in, not even Peyton Manning.

    There should be a bracket that should be set for all players…

    To determine the players pay it would involve the amount of years put in, a grade on statistics and accomplishments like Pro Bowls, ROY, Defensive/Offensive POY and Championships.

  19. tommyf15 says: Apr 23, 2011 12:53 PM

    I’m all for cutting rookie wages, but I’d like to see some sort of give and take. What if all rookies made the minimum for the first three years, then became completely unrestricted free agents after that?

  20. wtfchiefs says: Apr 23, 2011 12:53 PM

    Anyone that gets paid millions for playing a sport has no business complaining about other people’s money.

    Did St. Gonzalez turn down his rookie contract because he was paid more than veterans? …Didn;t think so

  21. 1stngoal says: Apr 23, 2011 1:06 PM

    Right on,Tony! Rookie salary cap for the win!!!

    The present system just takes money away from proven veterans and puts it in the pockets of unproven rookies and their agents…

  22. dclimey says: Apr 23, 2011 1:07 PM

    This is something I never quite got:

    I agree that the rookie wage scale needs to be curtailed, but taking the money from the rookies and giving it to the veterans won’t solve any major collective bargaining issues. It’s still the *players* getting that money.

    From what I can tell, the veterans don’t seem to take issue with their salaries, just the fact that unproven rookies are getting top of the market salaries with the best veterans. So instead of diverting 300 Million in rookies wages to veterans (who by all indications are fine with the money they’re getting), why not divert 300 Million from rookies – as proposed – and give it back to the owners. By itself, this would be a huge step towards reaching financial middle ground.

  23. dempsey63 says: Apr 23, 2011 1:11 PM

    berniemadoffsides says:

    Then what is everyone waiting for? What is holding this up….?

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    What might be holding it up is a guarantee of sorts that the owners would divert the unspent money toward the veterans.

    Let’s say, for instance, that the Rams’ ownership was able to sign Sam Bradford and the remaining choices for 25% of what they gave to him alone. Would the savings have been automatically directed toward deserving veterans, or might they have been cut in order to emulate the Packers’ model of building a roster around talented young players–with the owners pocketing the difference?

    (Get it in writing, vets. Get it in writing.)

  24. commoncents says: Apr 23, 2011 1:11 PM

    Kraft was right months and months ago, get rid of the lawyers and get a deal done.

  25. theodorethompson says: Apr 23, 2011 1:20 PM

    It’s easy to say “rookies make too much, let’s just take away their money and pay it to the veterans.” I’m sure the agents will have something to say about that as they negotiate deals for the upcoming draft class. I would not be surprised to see many of the top picks holding out well into the season.

  26. jonscoit says: Apr 23, 2011 1:23 PM

    If one true thing has ever been said, it is that no veteran free agent has ever signed a huge contract that they didn’t earn by their play, and that they failed to justify by tanking the following season or getting injured.

    I understand that this site is a mouthpiece for the NFL, but Brian Brown at advancednflstats.com debunked the myth of rookie overpayment at least a year ago, and I’ve yet to hear anyone dispute his analysis. He showed that, if you compare players according to position and expected production, rookies are underpaid compared to veterans. When you draft a player #1 you are doing so because you believe the guy will become a consistent all-pro. The issue isn’t, does Sam Bradford’s contract compare favorably to Tony Gonzalez’s contract, but how does it compare to the contracts of Brady, Manning, Brees, Rivers, etc., all of whom are paid based primarily on the expectation of future achievement rather than as a reward for past achievement. NFL players don’t get golden parachutes at the end of their careers, they get golden showers.

    Many rookies, as well as many free agents, fail to live up to the expectations reflected in their contract, yet I don’t see Gonzo arguing that free agency ought to be dispensed with. Rookies may not have played “a down” in the NFL, but all rookies drafted have spent years achieving in the elite levels of the sport.

  27. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: Apr 23, 2011 1:34 PM

    commoncents says:
    Apr 23, 2011 1:11 PM
    Kraft was right months and months ago, get rid of the lawyers and get a deal done.

    ****************************************
    Exactly. And the main lawyer that needs to go is DEmo Smith

  28. johnnycash19 says: Apr 23, 2011 1:34 PM

    kevinbmorrison says: Apr 23, 2011 12:25 PM

    I would propose abolishing the draft altogether, and allow all entering amateur players to be true free agents. That will determine how much they are “worth.” It will also create a lot of interest in the sport beyond the one day frenzy that the draft is.
    ——————-

    That is the worst proposition I’ve ever heard. I think everyone just got stupider reading this comment.

  29. oldbyrd says: Apr 23, 2011 1:38 PM

    Hats off to Tony G

  30. laeaglefan says: Apr 23, 2011 1:38 PM

    Let the rookies hold out. Who cares? They won’t be missed, since they’ve never done anything to help the team anyway.

  31. eslaught says: Apr 23, 2011 1:38 PM

    I agree, give it to the veterans. Guys who have had their brains turned to mush for years. They need more money than some rookies who step out on the field, suck at the pro level and eventually walk away from the NFL with $30 plus millions in their pockets. If it goes to the veterans a league standard for incentives should be established based on ROY, DPOY, MVP, OPOY and so on. The Pro Bowl should be based on the opinions of players and coaches not joe schmoe sitting at home voting for Ochocinco because he say his reality show and thinks that he was “cool”. The pro bowl sucks because its “fan favorites” not good players. Then give the winners of the pro bowl some more money and give the losers nothing. Fire Norv Turner, Bring back Marty Ball, Go Bolts.

  32. vikescry1 says: Apr 23, 2011 1:56 PM

    really??? i thought it was great that good hard working, responsible rookies like jamarcus russell and any other BUST you want to add to the mix should get paid! (sarcasm) it’s funny the fans have been saying this for years…

  33. galvestontexans says: Apr 23, 2011 1:59 PM

    I agree with Tony. It is time that people like Jokeuss Russel stop getting big pay days to do nothing.

  34. jutts says: Apr 23, 2011 2:04 PM

    I don’t know, the dude don’t eat meat. How can you trust a guy like that?

    Just kiddin

  35. metalhead65 says: Apr 23, 2011 2:09 PM

    so let me get this straight, rookies should not attend the draft because the owners are the bad guys but they should respect the guys who taking money from thier pockets now by wanting wage scale for rookies? where was all the scale talk when the vets were rookies and raking in as much as they could?

  36. quirtevans says: Apr 23, 2011 2:23 PM

    “reign in”

    Uh, Michael? It’s REIN in. Like what you would do with a horse. Which is where the expression comes from.

    Yours truly,

    The Usage Police

  37. ursushorribilis says: Apr 23, 2011 2:27 PM

    Hmmm…abolish the draft and create a “free for all” feeding frenzy to benefit elite players….hmm….That my friends, is a crystallized form of an IMBECILIC SUGGESTION!

    The purpose of the draft is to keep the teams “competitive” by distributing talent among franchises…..in a system that only the RICH teams can afford the “elite” players, there will be fewer competitive teams…smaller market and in relative terms, poorer teams will not be able to compete….attendance will suffer and teams will go under…

    NFLPA’s version of the NFL circa 2017: Four teams in the League consisting of Dallas, New England, Houston and Redskins….everyone else went out of business… Cretins!

  38. jo3jo says: Apr 23, 2011 2:40 PM

    What Gonzalez and other players don’t seem to realize is that if a simple reallocation of rookie $ to veterans was all it would take to make players happy, this deal could have been done months ago. The owners are fine with that — they don’t care if the top of the draft earns squat so that the Mannings and Bradys of the league can get the difference. But that’s not what the players are actually suing for.

  39. 1phd says: Apr 23, 2011 3:27 PM

    It’s completely unfair to name this just the Jamarcus Russell Rule. Alex Smith deserves to be equally honored.

  40. kevinbmorrison says: Apr 23, 2011 3:35 PM

    @johnnyCash19

    What about the proposal is stupid? How about formulating a response to explain your stance instead of a blanket statement with no intent for dialogue?

  41. ffootballontwitter says: Apr 23, 2011 4:07 PM

    @jonscoit

    “…If one true thing has ever been said, it is that no veteran free agent has ever signed a huge contract that they didn’t earn by their play, and that they failed to justify by tanking the following season or getting injured.”

    Since you’re a big fan of Brian Brown, its surprising you don’t know about his indictment of Adam Archuleta, who started only 7 games the next season after signing a 6-year $30 million contract, with $10 million guaranteed. That’s in addition to Albert Haynesworth, Exhibit B: seven-year, $100 million contract in 2009, MIA ever after.

    Perhaps you are just selectively picking and choosing from Brown’s otherwise excellent analysis. Brown himself noted that his conclusions were based on 2000-2002 data and that the conclusions would have to change if the draft bonuses grew faster than those for free agents. They have. QB David Carr got a $10,920,000 signing bonus in 2002; Matthew Stafford got $41.7 million.

    And @kevinbmorrison…

    Your notion that the “draft should be abolished” tells me the pot is calling the kettle black when it comes to “someone having a complete lack of understanding of simple economics.” (your words, not mine.) The NFL is not a typical marketplace. If you want to prove your economics expertise why don’t you educate us on how your definition of a “free market” would enhance the game.

  42. defensiveplaymaker says: Apr 23, 2011 4:13 PM

    I agree with Gonzalez 100%. I think all NFL players are overpaid, but especially the rookies!

  43. defensiveplaymaker says: Apr 23, 2011 4:18 PM

    Jamarcus Russell pocketed how many millions and how much did he help the Raiders?? That is a perfect example of why the rookie pay structure needs significantly re-worked!

  44. nflonlyfan says: Apr 23, 2011 5:54 PM

    This has been an ongoing issue since 1987 for the league. Seattle Seahawks had ILB Fredd Young, a four time pro bowler. Seattle drafted Brian “steroid” Bosworth and paid him at least 4x as a rookie what they were paying a proven veteran. Brian had never played a down in the NFL. I remember watching Bo Jackson shrug Bosworth off his back rushing for a touchdown. The owners only have themselves to blame for this mess by paying these ridiculous salaries. Every job I ever had started at the bottom of the pay scale and worked up based on performance ON THE JOB! You have to wonder how these idiot owners came to be owners in the first place.

  45. fbman says: Apr 23, 2011 6:13 PM

    kevinbmorrison says:
    Apr 23, 2011 12:25 PM
    “This shows a complete lack of understanding of simple economics on the part of Tony Gonzalez. If the owners are willing to pay these rookies all this money, that is their value. The ridiculous part is limiting these 21-22 year old kids to one employer in their field of work with whom they can negotiate.”

    They aren’t limited to one employer. They can go play in the arena league or the other newly started league. Obviously no one wants to because they pay 1/100 as much, but they aren’t required to play in the NFL. And whats the reason the NFL pay’s way more? Oh that’s right, the draft and the salary cap keep all the teams competitive so it has the most fans.

    These players are so stupid. Trying to force changes that will end up reducing the fans of the league and end up reducing everyone’s pay. Shortsided and idiotic arguments.

  46. patpatriotagain says: Apr 23, 2011 7:09 PM

    i fundamentally agree, but as far as total $$, it’s really a moot point. it only affects the top 7-10 players. as far as NFL revenue a rookie wage scale will save the owners less than 1%

  47. maddenprophet says: Apr 23, 2011 9:11 PM

    I knew that the so-called rookie wage scale was a serious problem when Kellen Winslow Jr was drafted then received a contract which paid him more than Gonzalez in, what, 2004-2005

  48. cowboysfaninpatriotsland says: Apr 23, 2011 9:31 PM

    “Newly hired members of the United Auto Workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler earn about $14 per hour, half what veterans make under their current contract.”

    This is from a 2010 article I was reading about the UAW. If the UAW, a REAL union, has asked management to pay new employees less than what veterans make, why doesn’t the NFLPA(*), a FAKE Union, do the same?

  49. footballcoach17 says: Apr 23, 2011 11:23 PM

    Tony, we the fans could not agree more! Thank you for being a real pro and saying it…tell your union buds!

  50. pftequalsgreatjournalism says: Apr 23, 2011 11:39 PM

    quirtevans says:
    Apr 23, 2011 2:23 PM
    “reign in”

    Uh, Michael? It’s REIN in. Like what you would do with a horse. Which is where the expression comes from.

    Yours truly,

    The Usage Police

    ——————————

    Should you be your grading middle school English papers?

  51. dempsey63 says: Apr 24, 2011 1:30 AM

    Did my take really get a 2-16 turndown by the populace? Not really, because I stole it from Steve Czaban (one of my talk radio favorites) just to see what people would do.

    Steve presented a very eye-opening and sensible piece about how the owners could pocket the money instead of rewarding veterans with it. Gee, apparently the guy doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    What it also means is that Czaban will soon be getting fired by Sporting News Radio and that yours truly–quirky comedy and all–will be taking over his gig and going head-to-head against the local dudes on The Fan.

    I owe it all to those 16 sweet detractors.

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