Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier wants players and teams to be able to negotiate new contracts whenever they want. When it comes to enhancements to the labor deal, Shazier should be taking up a different cause.
Shazier, and all players, should be pushing for an increase in the spending floor from 89 percent. Currently, teams can pocket 11 cents of every salary cap dollar, on a rolling four-year average.
It’s hardly a small number. With the 2017 cap at $167 million, teams can squirrel away $18.37 million, each.
Besides, Shazier shouldn’t really worry about what rookies will or won’t make. By the time the current CBA expires, Shazier will have spent seven seasons in the NFL; any enhancement to what rookies make or when they can make it won’t help him.
That attitude actually helped persuade veterans to agree to the rookie wage scale six years ago. With busts sucking millions out of the system, less cash was available for veterans. The only problem is that, by holding down what all highly-drafted rookies make, the great ones have a harder time pushing the market higher for the rest of the players at a given position because the cap number in the last year of the rookie deal isn’t so ridiculously high (leading to a 20-percent greater franchise tender) that it results either in an enormous contract from his current team or a shot at an even bigger deal on the market.
Then there’s the fact that Shazier currently is eligible for a new contract. But since the Steelers won’t do new deals for non-quarterbacks who have more than two years left on their current contracts, Shazier will still have to wait another year — regardless of whatever the CBA does or doesn’t allow.
So Shazier should be banging on the door of Art Rooney to get a new deal now, and Shazier should be banging the drum for an increase in the total dollars that teams have to spend, individually and collectively.