2011 first-rounders can finally get paid

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A window quietly opened upon the conclusion of the 2013 regular season.  Eventually, that open window will be creating plenty of racket.

Once each team completed its Week 17 game, any players drafted in 2011 became instantly eligible for new contracts.

The list includes players like Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (first overall), Bengals receiver A.J. Green (fourth overall), Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (fifth overall), Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (11th overall), Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (14th overall), Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (24th overall), and Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (30th overall).

Notable names beyond round one include Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (35th overall) and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (36th overall).

Other players who are eligible but who have made it hard to gauge their value based on off-field issues are Broncos linebacker Von Miller (third overall) and 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith (seventh overall).

For players taken in the top ten, a strong argument can be made for an immediate restructuring.  The rookie wage scale arose from a desire to ensure that busts like JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf don’t abscond from the league with many millions of unearned dollars.  The guys who have earned the money that they didn’t get arguably should get it now.

Under that reasoning, any player taken in the top 10 who hasn’t been a bust should be busting down the door now in search of that which he didn’t get in 2011.

The teams who currently hold the rights to 2011 first rounders for at least two more seasons (if the fifth-year option is exercised) may not feel the same way.  And with daily fines of $30,000 and the potential loss of signing bonus money paid — and possibly spent — three or more years ago, the players don’t have many options if their teams aren’t inclined to pay them now the windfall they didn’t get then, regardless of whether they have earned it.

57 responses to “2011 first-rounders can finally get paid

  1. I still would like to see massive tweaks to the economics of the game. There’s still too much money being shifted around inefficiently and unfairly. There needs to be more money available for some that are getting less than they deserve in comparison to others.

  2. Do you really think that if a player doesn’t have the money to pay the $30,000 per day fine, that will prevent him from holding out? Get real.

  3. Like any other area of employment, it comes down to supply and demand. With a shortage of franchise quarterbacks the few can name their prices. it doesn’t help that the owners publicize how much they are paying their quarterbacks as a sign of prestige.

  4. I don’t know where you come from, but around here, a six figure salary counts as “getting paaaaid”…especially for playing a game for a living.

  5. They have an easy way out….leave after the 5th year. If your team wasn’t willing to pay you for what you are doing for them, then go somewhere else. Teams will quickly start signing these guys as soon as possible, if warranted. it’s not like these guys are factory workers and don’t have options.

  6. Ponder was the 14th pick in that draft, I bet the Vikings can’t wait to back up the Brinks truck to re-sign him.

    Maybe with his signing bonus, he can go out and buy a bionic arm so his passes wouldn’t flutter like a wounded duck

  7. I wonder what Krapernick gets paid… The guy throws like Tebow and if it wasn’t for Frank Gore and Davis bailing him out he would be a Practice Squad QB.

  8. Correction, 12th pick, my finger slipped there. That was my same excuse I used on the Viking fan who sat next to me in the Metro dump and she had a smile on her face.

  9. Make that top 11. I’m sure Watt is going to get quite a raise from the 1.3 million he made last season. He’s also scheduled to make 1.9 next year. I’m sure Watt’s agent has brought this up once or twice to GM Rick Smith, lol.

  10. It’s amazing they didn’t starve to death in the three years they had to wait. If the physical act of you performing your duties at work is classified as “play” or “playing” I will never have sympathy for the size of your paycheck.

  11. KC will say goodbye to albert and his 11 million, then hand a huge extension to Justin Houston. can mark that one down. no way they let that man hit FA. or else he will spend 2 seasons tagged

  12. Don’t forget Prince Amukamara for the Giants. He’ll be a Giant for a long time.

  13. This was a big coup for the owners. Cut worker pay even as revenue goes through the roof. They did it to the players and refs.

  14. You’re a joke if you think that Aldon Smith will not get paid. Despite his big screw up, he’s addressed the situation and will know have a watchful eye on him from the 49er org. Sometimes a problem like Aldons can end up being a wake up call and bring out true potential.

    Aldon Smith will be getting paid, more specifically in the form of an extension from SF

  15. My Texans are gonna throw a large number at JJ next year during training camp and preseason. Wouldn’t be surprised if he declines and tests free agency. It’s what I’d do. If Mario Williams got $100 million 2 years ago, what arguably the best defensive lineman ever in his prime warrant?

  16. Think of the poor undrafted free agents, slaving away for a measly $480,000 per year plus expenses. How they manage to keep body and soul together I just don’t know. Look at Von Miller! Talk about someone taking advantage. He will only make $3.2 million this rear, plus his 25% of his $14 million signing bonus. He’s getting less than $1 million per sack; can you believe that? The owners sure are chintzy. Luckily the fans are willing to pay through the nose for tickets and beer.

  17. good for them. it must have been so tough making only the few hundred thousand a year and the income from the endorsements they earned. as for the first round guys spare the sob stories, you can now go from making a million a year to 15. don’t like it then blame jmarcus russell not the owners. he got paid 30 million to drink cough syrup so why should they toss millions to guys who have not earned it?

  18. It’s pretty clear who the best qb of that bunch is, but newton and crapernick will still get paid more than Dalton for some reason despite Dalton leading his team to the playoffs every year he has played. Newton puts up average passing numbers because he is an average qb who can run and finally gets into the playoffs because the defense got them there (funny how when they were losing he and others blamed coaching and the defense, now that they are winning he doesn’t have a problem taking ask the praise even though he doesn’t deserve it) and kap, well everyone knows about kap and that he is not worth big money.

  19. It’s hard to fathom a man can “earn ” millions and millions if dollars for playing a game, and yet I earn thousands for building houses. Bitter table for one please.

  20. Scam Newton will get a 100 mill contract. Even though he doesn’t deserve to be in that group of Qbs

  21. Come on people. If you have a problem with what players make there is a crazy super easy solution…Dont watch the games. We are all responsible for our own success. These guys were lucky enough to take advantage of their skill. Plus you need to factor in the fact that they pay 40 percent in taxes so lazy people can continue to not work and have to pay their agent 10% on top of it

  22. Watching Dalton throw four picks against the Ravens in a game that the Bengals had to have in order to maintain a shot at a first-round bye definitely convinced me that I’d prefer him over Kaepernick for the 49ers. Yesiree!!

    All the concern on this thread for the Niners (overpaying Kap) is very heartening. As a fan, all I can say is ‘thank you’.

  23. All you folks crapping on the “finally get paid” comment need to recognize that for most of these guys, no matter how elite they are, they have a very limited window to cash in on their abilities, and because these contracts aren’t guaranteed, they can lose their ability to earn their living very quickly. If any of you were able to do what these guys do, you’d want to be compensated at the same level. These guys are looking at long-term debilitation once their careers are over, and you’re crapping on them because they want to be taken care of sacrificing their bodies? Y’all are ridiculous.

  24. Most of you are idiots or just 49er haters. How can you say Dalton is better than Kap. 1 idiot says its because he has lead his team to the playoffs each year, getting to the playoffs does not mean you are great. Getting to within 1 play of winning the superbowl does. Kap has been a leader and won the big games. He can carry a team on his shoulders and should get paid. Im not saying dalton is bad, im just saying kap is better.

  25. Played in all 16 games, barley scratched 3k yards, 58% completion, 21 Td’s, yup, that’s big money right there. Your a qb in a passing league and you can barely get 3k yards, com on man!

    For a stretch of 5 or 6 games he looked like a deer in the headlights, kap is nothing but a one read gimmick qb that this team has to build the pay book around because of his limitations. When the team has to build the offensive plays around the qb and not around the other players, there is a problem there. The qb should be able to adapt to the team and scheme, not be the scheme.

  26. Kap is ranked 7th in qbr and dalton is ranked 15th. Im not saying he is the greatest qb of all times. Im just saying that for this team he a good fit and they should pay the man. Him looking like a deer in headlights is more of an offensive coordinator issue, to many shifts and poor play calling.

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