When the rookie wage scale grossly restricted the money earned by players taken at the top of the 2011 draft, a theory emerged that once players became eligible for new contracts after their third NFL seasons, plenty of the men who became quality players would hold out until receiving the money they didn’t get upon entering the league in order to prevent busts from being unduly overpaid.
So far, that theory has busted. No members of the 2011 draft class are poised to hold out, even though none of the first-round picks has received a second contract.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, a fifth-round pick that year, has gotten a massive payday. But he’s the rare exception. First-rounders like Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, and J.J. Watt (pictured) are waiting — and they’re waiting very patiently.
In fact, only one 2011 draft pick has taken a stand this offseason. Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston boycotted the offseason program and a mandatory minicamp. He’s still expected to report this week for Chiefs’ training camp, especially since he is only a season away from free agency, unlike the first-rounders whose hands are tied by the fifth-year option.
The situation will further bolster the idea that the NFL won big in the last CBA, even though the truth remains that the NFLPA got the best deal it could given a rank-and-file that didn’t want to miss a paycheck. As a result, the paychecks will continue to smaller for for all rookies drafted from 2011 through the end of the decade, whether superstar or half-a-star.