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Rookie wage scale details demonstrate that owners lost battle, won war

2011 NFL Draft Getty Images

On Thursday, the NFL and the NFLPA* struck a deal on the rookie wage scale.  Based on the two positions that were detailed in a memo we obtained earlier in the week, it’s clear that the NFL adopted almost entirely what the players were seeking.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that, as expected, all first-round picks will be signed to four-year contracts, with an option for the fifth year.  As to the first 10 picks, the fifth-year salary, if the team exercises the option, will equate to the average of the 10 highest-paid players at the same position.  As to the next 22 picks in round one, the fifth-year salary will reflect the average of the third to 25th highest-paid players at the position.

The players, as of last week, had asked for the first half of round one to get a salary worth the average salary of the top 10 players at the same position.  For the second half of round one, the number would have come from the top 20 players at the position.

In the end, the players got almost exactly what they wanted, with only six players left out of the top-10 average pay, and with the average pay figures for picks 11 through 32 omitting the top two players and adding in three more at the back end.  This year, the teams that will be helped and the players that will be hurt by the final outcome are the Texans and defensive end J.J. Watt (pictured with James Harrison’s BFF), the Vikings and quarterback Christian Ponder, the Lions and defensive tackle Nick Fairley, the Rams and defensive end Robert Quinn, the Dolphins and center Mike Pouncey, and the Redskins and defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, respectively.

But the other 22 lose as well.  The ultimate outcome of the rookie wage scale represents a major victory for the league, with the total pay of the top 10 picks dropping by anywhere from 40 to 55 percent.  The money will now be shifted to veterans and retired players.

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46 Responses to “Rookie wage scale details demonstrate that owners lost battle, won war”
  1. lloydcarr1997 says: Jul 15, 2011 12:49 PM

    It represents a win for everyone. No fanbase wants there team to have to carry a jamarcus russell contract. This should of been a no brainer

  2. marvsleezy says: Jul 15, 2011 12:50 PM

    Instead of hazing the rookies at training camp, the rookies should play for free their fist year.

  3. chris6523 says: Jul 15, 2011 12:55 PM

    James Harrison’s BFF. That’s funny, I don’t care who you are. I think Harrison hates everyone. He wouldn’t piss on his own mother if she were on fire.

  4. frug says: Jul 15, 2011 12:56 PM

    I wish people would just call a rookie wage scale what it really is; a wealth transfer to the owners and the elite players.

    But hey, if it gets the NFL back then who cares.

  5. southmo says: Jul 15, 2011 12:56 PM

    Not really sure either side “loses” with this deal. The rookie wage scale was always out of whack with their actual contribution to the team. That money SHOULD go more toward the veterans.

  6. 3crowns says: Jul 15, 2011 12:59 PM

    As I said yesterday, the owners did not care one bit about this issue since it didn’t impact their bottom line (it’s simply dividing the cap between rookies and vets but doesn’t change by one penny how much the owner pay overall in salary). It was simply a negotiating ploy so they could give on this “issue” to get something that actually affected their wallets. Not sure why anyone would think otherwise.

  7. bolt4life says: Jul 15, 2011 1:01 PM

    Good! Give the vets the money! The rookies should have to earn their big pay days and by year 5 we would know if they deserve it or not. Although I do slightly feel bad for this rookie class since they came in most likely thinking they would make a lot more. They will still be payed millions however! As for future rookie classes, they now know what to expect! Wooo

  8. 2011to2020lions says: Jul 15, 2011 1:02 PM

    I really think that’s the way it should be, but I hate it for the guys getting screwed. I guess Bradford Stafford, and Suh were the big winners here.

  9. ravenstink says: Jul 15, 2011 1:03 PM

    How do the retired players get any money out of this? If a rookie gets 10 mil less than he would have in the past it seems like it would mostly go to the vets because of the new salary floor and if they don’t pay up to the cap the owners would just get to keep the money that they are under the cap.

  10. jersey73 says: Jul 15, 2011 1:04 PM

    I always thought a rookie wage scale with the rooks getting 3 year contracts (then free agency) was the best idea. The owners pushed for more and got something. Oh well.

    I like the idea of more of the money going to the vets (who still contribute) and helping retired players.

    As for people saying the owners didn’t really care cause they are spending the same money…that isn’t true. They won’t have to risk so much money in a untested rookie that could destroy the franchise for years to come if it doesn’t work out. They could use the money to sign more established and tested veterans. Less risk…and maybe the same reward.

  11. angrycorgi says: Jul 15, 2011 1:05 PM

    I hope this money finds its way to the vets. If so, this is a win all around.

  12. thephantomstranger says: Jul 15, 2011 1:05 PM

    marvsleezy says:
    Jul 15, 2011 12:50 PM
    Instead of hazing the rookies at training camp, the rookies should play for free their fist year.
    _________________

    If they’re going to have a “fist year,” that sounds worse than hazing to me.

  13. aberystwyth2 says: Jul 15, 2011 1:05 PM

    So Andrew Luck doesn’t miss out on insane Sam Bradford / Matthew Stafford numbers!

    Good for him…i’m glad he stayed in school

  14. greenbay4ever says: Jul 15, 2011 1:07 PM

    Finally the system make more sense. Let some of the Veterans get paid. Now just get the rest of the deal done.

  15. thephantomstranger says: Jul 15, 2011 1:07 PM

    I don’t think Christian Ponder has to worry. He’ll make at least $150 million over the course of his career.

  16. jersey73 says: Jul 15, 2011 1:12 PM

    aberystwyth2 says: Jul 15, 2011 1:05 PM

    So Andrew Luck doesn’t miss out on insane Sam Bradford / Matthew Stafford numbers!

    Good for him…i’m glad he stayed in school

    —————

    I’d say, right about now, Sam Bradford is glad he gave up his Senior year at Oklahoma and came out in 2010 versus 2011.

  17. frogmantm says: Jul 15, 2011 1:13 PM

    If this means effectively eliminating rookie holdouts, then this is good news for all teams (and fans)…

  18. whatswiththehate says: Jul 15, 2011 1:15 PM

    3crowns says:Jul 15, 2011 12:59 PM

    As I said yesterday, the owners did not care one bit about this issue since it didn’t impact their bottom line (it’s simply dividing the cap between rookies and vets but doesn’t change by one penny how much the owner pay overall in salary). It was simply a negotiating ploy so they could give on this “issue” to get something that actually affected their wallets. Not sure why anyone would think otherwise.
    ———–
    You are so right.

    Very typical of the mentality of this society. Make a lot of noise about irrelevant things while the real issues get ignored.

    It’s clear we like to fight the easier battles and pretend we’re winning big.

  19. whatswiththehate says: Jul 15, 2011 1:27 PM

    So the NFLPA simply shuffled their money around and took from the rookies and gave to those wh0 got rich as rookies and now screaming they should get paid more as vets and retirees.
    In the meantime, the owners haven’t given up a dime.

    Question is, shouldn’t the NFL already have some kind of funds in place to help their retirees? Doesn’t other sports have such programs in place?

    Why take from the rookies to compensate for the vets and retirees. IMO, whatever was taken from the top rookies should be given to them in a back end deal. You show your worth after a couple of years and you get your pay.

    The NFL sounds like a very greedy organization.

  20. scoopandslam says: Jul 15, 2011 1:29 PM

    Hopefully this will mean more trades at the top of the draft again.

  21. mcconnellrules says: Jul 15, 2011 1:32 PM

    This is great news. The vets finally get what they need, medical help, and the young and dumb rookies wont hit the riches, boost their egos, and think their super models i.e. Devin Thomas (the allegedly best receiver in that draft) Teams will hopefully not get screwed for years to come like Washington was in that case

  22. mjkelly77 says: Jul 15, 2011 1:40 PM

    “As I said yesterday, the owners did not care one bit about this issue since it didn’t impact their bottom line (it’s simply dividing the cap between rookies and vets but doesn’t change by one penny how much the owner pay overall in salary). It was simply a negotiating ploy so they could give on this “issue” to get something that actually affected their wallets. Not sure why anyone would think otherwise.”

    _______________________

    I totally disagree. No organization can afford to retain personnel that are overpaid. A team ties up too much cap space with losers and their record suffers. They can’t afford to sign better players so they have losing records. Ticket sales, local advertising revenue, sales of team paraphernalia all suffer. Everyone loves to back a winner.

  23. whatswiththehate says: Jul 15, 2011 1:42 PM

    I also wonder how far reaching will the hands be for those in the sports media like ESPN and the owners of this site in regards to how much money they will be trying to seek when it’s time to negotiate their contracts with the NFL now that they know 9 billion is out there and the top rookies aren’t getting as much?

    Corporate greed all the way.

  24. whatswiththehate says: Jul 15, 2011 1:44 PM

    lloydcarr1997 says:Jul 15, 2011 12:49 PM

    It represents a win for everyone. No fanbase wants there team to have to carry a jamarcus russell contract. This should of been a no brainer
    ———
    Was the Jamarcus Russell the only top QB who failed or is he just the easiest to pick on cause the media said so?

  25. whatswiththehate says: Jul 15, 2011 1:48 PM

    aberystwyth2 says:Jul 15, 2011 1:05 PM

    So Andrew Luck doesn’t miss out on insane Sam Bradford / Matthew Stafford numbers!

    Good for him…i’m glad he stayed in school
    ——-
    Really? Like this new rookie situation won’t affect him when he does become a draftee next year? Why, is he special or something?

  26. bengalsown says: Jul 15, 2011 1:51 PM

    So does this eliminate rookie holdouts? I only see money details for the optional 5th year.

  27. hobartbaker says: Jul 15, 2011 1:54 PM

    Well, they can’t use the “It’s for the children” validation on this deal.

  28. frogmantm says: Jul 15, 2011 1:57 PM

    Was the Jamarcus Russell the only top QB who failed or is he just the easiest to pick on cause the media said so?

    Absolutely not…. But, he’s one of the most recent and $29 million in guaranteed money ($61 million contract total) makes it even more painful for the Raiders who will still be paying for it this season.

  29. pftstory says: Jul 15, 2011 2:03 PM

    There is no way any of this years rookies with a half functioning brain did not know they were going to make a ton less then prior years.

  30. raideralex99 says: Jul 15, 2011 2:07 PM

    Was the Jamarcus Russell the only top QB who failed or is he just the easiest to pick on cause the media said so?
    _______________________________________

    He was the highest paid bust and thanks to this new rookie wage deal …. Jamarcus will hold that record forever.

  31. duffer58 says: Jul 15, 2011 2:09 PM

    The winner is the veterans not the owners. The money is going to them.

  32. mediasloppy says: Jul 15, 2011 2:31 PM

    I hope the vets keep that in mind when they usually have the first round top picks buy some very expensive meals and items during their initiation to the team. I’m sure hey can still afford it though…

  33. bigbeefyd says: Jul 15, 2011 2:32 PM

    thephantomstranger says:
    Jul 15, 2011 1:05 PM
    marvsleezy says:
    Jul 15, 2011 12:50 PM
    Instead of hazing the rookies at training camp, the rookies should play for free their fist year.
    _________________

    If they’re going to have a “fist year,” that sounds worse than hazing to me.
    ******************************
    DUDE! You seriously made me burst out laughing! Awesome post!

  34. ghostrider25 says: Jul 15, 2011 2:42 PM

    *ahem*

    So what happens in the first 4 years? That would seem to be the important part of this discussion because stars and busts get paid that money whereas only the stars see a 5th year.

  35. aigraiders says: Jul 15, 2011 2:45 PM

    The only guys I feel bad for are the RB’s. After 5 yrs, their body is on its way down. Would have liked to see 3 yrs for RB but I am certainly not shedding a tear for rookies in general.

  36. hdlow42 says: Jul 15, 2011 2:56 PM

    I’m guessing the average salary for a college graduate is somewhere around $35k. Considering that, I’m sure this draft class will find some way to make ends meet.

  37. broncobeta says: Jul 15, 2011 3:07 PM

    chris6523 says:
    Jul 15, 2011 12:55 PM
    James Harrison’s BFF. That’s funny, I don’t care who you are. I think Harrison hates everyone. He wouldn’t piss on his own mother if she were on fire.
    ———————————

    What about if she wasn’t on fire?

  38. freedomispopular says: Jul 15, 2011 3:15 PM

    I still think they’re overpaid, but somebody’s gotta make concessions.

  39. radrntn says: Jul 15, 2011 3:30 PM

    ever since J-Bust i have been a huge proponent of a rookie salary cap…. Lets face it rookies, and collegiate players do not have a voice in the players assoc.

    I am intrested to see if the players got their way that each and every team has to be within a certain % of the cap. That is the real victory, if not teams can load up on rookies and cut the vets, and take the guaranteed tv revenue.

  40. whatswiththehatelickstait says: Jul 15, 2011 3:48 PM

    @whatswiththehate

    “Was the Jamarcus Russell the only top QB who failed or is he just the easiest to pick on cause the media said so?”

    Just the most recent bust & a guy everyone remembers a epic lack of effort from despite making huge amounts of cash. A monumental, disturbing example of how paying rookies big salaries before proving themselves kill teams. Nothing more, nothing less…

    From your posts though, seems you were making an insinuation that there may be other reasons for bringing up JaBustus… don’t be shy, if you think there were/are other factors involved, spit it out.

  41. 3crowns says: Jul 15, 2011 4:09 PM

    To clarify my earlier comment about the owners not caring about the issue, the “issue” I was referring to was the length of the scale contracts, not whether there should be a rookie scale or not. Both the owners and players wanted a rookie scale – that was never an issue. The issue was about the length of contracts.

  42. andyreidisfat says: Jul 15, 2011 4:38 PM

    If nothing else, I hope this makes Jr’s in college think twice about coming out. I am so tired of these underclassmen coming out early and not being able to play for two years because they weren’t ready.

    I really hope this has an effect on the kids. But i also hope this means we see players who are passed the age of 30 be able to stay and get paid money they have earned. Just think of all the players that had to be cut because your team had to pay a top 10 pick.

    I have to agree with most on this one. The people who won on this are the fans. Hopefully this means when your teams blows a tire and selects a Russel/ leaf type they can quickly shed that contract and move on. Also I think This will allow more QB’s to sit the first year as there won’t be so much pressure to play them becaus eof how much money they make.

    Good deal NFL now settle the whole thing and let rumor mill begin. Eagles to sign everyone !

  43. zinn22 says: Jul 15, 2011 4:39 PM

    Can we retroactively make Mark Sanchez give back his money now. If they redid the 2009 draft he might go undrafted until rounds 4+ but instead he is making $17 million this year.

  44. Chris Guest says: Jul 15, 2011 5:04 PM

    They only lose with respect to that 5th year. Nothing says those guys if they excel get paid better in year 6.

  45. tripster999 says: Jul 15, 2011 5:17 PM

    Not sure you can say the owners lost if you don’t know what their goal was in the negotiation of this. It seems the main losers are the rookies who didn’t have anyone negotiating for them.

  46. bsizemore68 says: Jul 15, 2011 5:31 PM

    It still stinks of greed, a player who hasn’t done anything is getting to big a piece of the pie, how about taking care of the second year player a little bit. Why not let the first round picks get the average of the lowest 75 % of the pay for one year veterans? Bill

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