As the annual philosophical debate cranks up regarding whether high-end draft picks should be permitted to double dip if things don’t work out with their current teams and they sign land with a new team, let’s keep in mind how this problem came to be.
When the NFL was getting pretty much every financial concession it wanted from the NFLPA two years ago, the league’s negotiators failed to make offset language standard in every rookie deal.
The goal in creating a rookie wage scale was to eliminate the things on which there could be negotiation and, in turn, potential holdouts. The NFL successfully removed from the process every issue on which an impasse could arise.
As a result, some teams (such as, this year, the Dolphins, Browns, Eagles, and Titans) believe that players who are cut should not get to keep the full amount of their guaranteed rookie contracts plus whatever money they earn elsewhere. And some agents are willing to push the issue aggressively, to the point of a possible holdout.
Regardless of where anyone stands on the issue, the issue could have been a non-issue if the NFL had simply asked the NFLPA to agree to a provision that would prevent a draft pick who failed in one city from getting paid by two teams at once. From the union’s perspective, there would be no reason to fight that term, given that the absence of double dipping means there will more money for other players.
When the current labor deal expires in eight years, the NFL should plug that loophole. Until then, it’ll be one of the only issues about which teams and high first-round draft picks can haggle.