When the NFL adopted a true rookie wage scale as part of the 2011 labor deal, the league saw huge-money windfalls to high draft picks go the way of the dodo bird, 8-track tapes, and my real hair.
Those huge contracts that previously were paid out to players in the top 10 entailed significant gaps from pick to pick, creating an incentive for the team with the first overall selection to launch negotiations with multiple players in the hopes of leveraging one against the other for the privilege of being taken No. 1 overall in the draft.
Though it rarely worked, teams tried it. Now that there’s a true rookie wage scale, teams aren’t even trying.
As mentioned on Twitter (and then as I forgot to post here), the Chiefs hadn’t as of Monday tried to sign either left tackle Luke Joeckel or left tackle Eric Fisher to a contract. Per multiple sources, they still haven’t as of Tuesday. Instead, the Chiefs most likely will pick one or the other (most think it will be Joeckel), and then deal with the contract later.
That’s what the Colts did last year with quarterback Andrew Luck, announcing two days before the draft that he’d be the pick. Though he was signed in time for training camp, things got a little dicey over issues relating to marketing rights.
For the Chiefs, the far bigger question is to get the better player; with so few topics on which to negotiate, the difference in possible deals simply doesn’t matter.
Moving forward, look for the team with the top pick to shy away from contract negotiations with a possible first overall pick. It adds little or nothing, and it merely consumes resources unnecessarily.