While the NFL and NFLPA wrangle over potentially crippling transparency issues, they have reportedly settled a smaller problem.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the two sides have reached a compromise on a rookie wage scale. The new plan will replace the current rookie salary cap and limit the amount of guaranteed money and signing bonuses available to draft picks.
Details on the guaranteed money available have yet to be revealed but here’s a few key points to the agreement.
1. Rookie first-round contracts will be limited to four years. The owners backed off an original idea to require first-round picks signing for five years.
2. Players drafted after the first round will be limited to three-year contracts. Players would be restricted free agents in the fourth year. This isn’t much different from the current system, when the majority of picks after the first round wind up with three-year contracts.
It’s hard to evaluate the new system without knowing how much the high first round picks will make. Cole reports the owners’ original offer for the No. 1 overall pick would have been a five-year, $19 million contract. Only $6 million was guaranteed. (For comparison, Sam Bradford got $50 million guaranteed on a six-year deal last year.)
The owners eventually backed off such a drastic reduction, but we don’t know by how much. Eagles president Joe Banner has been involved in the negotiations, according to Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News.
The key concession from the union’s perspective is that first-round picks will hit free agency faster. The good ones will ultimately be rewarded with a big second contract faster than under the old system. (Just think of the leverage Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco would have now after three seasons.)
In the end, ballooning rookie deals was a big problem for the league that had to be corrected.
Now they just have to correct everything else.