We've all heard the rumors of a potential, possible, might happen, we pray to the football gods it will this time agreement between the Owners and Players (hereafter referred to as 'those knuckleheads'). It's a song we've heard before but maybe this time they really, really, really mean it, double cross their hearts and hope to overcharge us at the gate.
Regardless, our friend Gregg Rosenthal has posted some thoughts on potential rules which might follow in the aftermath of a deal.
Or maybe he was just riffing on Schefter/Mortenson (Mortschefter? Schefterson?). I can't keep it straight anymore.
REGARDLESS AND MOVING FORWARD.
The piece —or as Gregg phrased it 'rule'— I was most intrigued by was the following:
22 days after ratification: This one isn’t agreed upon, but it could be a deadline for rookies to sign. Um, wow. This unprecedented idea is something we’ll delve into later.
WOW is right.
Let's look at this in a few ways. First, Gregg is dead on that this would be an unprecedented move. There's never been a deadline for rookies to sign, as fans of many a team with a top pick holding out can attest.
Imagine having all your rookies in camp prior to Training Camp. Novel idea, huh? Better for the rookies, better for the teams, better for the coaches.
Not so good for the agents... but we'll talk about that in a sec.
I have to guess that if this is on the table, the rookie wage scale—reportedly at the heart of our current slow-footed pace—is actually very close to reality, even if the sides can't agree on contract length or scale (which is the hold-up reportedly).
Why do I believe this? Well, the only way this would ever work is with a rookie wage scale for the top picks. If you have a deadline, you have to give yourself a reasonable chance of beating the deadline. I'm sure the 'enforcement' of the deadline won't be savage but there will be consequences to it.
If there's no rookie scale..... well you can imagine what the agents would do.
Speaking of agents, they (and to an extent, the first few rookie classes) can't be happy with any wage scale especially if they tend to have the top players in a draft.
No more $40 million guaranteed pay days? I think Drew Rosenhaus just threw up in his mouth a little.
It has to happen though. Jamarcus Russell STOLE money from the Raiders. As did Vernon Gholston from the Jets and numerous other players from numerous other teams.
Sure, the owners are at fault for it, to some extent. Do a better job scouting, don't get caught up in measurables and don't offer mad money at unproven players.
Except for the fact that players and agents drive the price up. Owners can't really risk losing a top pick by playing chicken. Your franchise is already struggling, can you afford to play tough guy with every rookie? And risk alienating fans and potentially other players? Or miss out on a great player who will save or at least help your team?
Remember for every Russell, Gholston or Leaf, there are many more Jake Longs and Ndamukong Suhs and Sam Bradfords. In the past, that means you had to pay.
With a rookie wage scale teams are protected from sinking a ridiculous amount of money into an unproven player. Of course—and here is a sticking point— rookies shouldn't be locked into a five year contract that in many cases they will outplay within half that time.
However, back on point, the idea of a (hopefully sane) time-frame to get rookies signed makes all the sense in the world. The quicker they are signed , the quicker they start learning their system and the sooner they can make a positive impact for their franchise.
All of this made possible by a rookie wage system which sets the price and avoids ridiculously long holdouts which ultimately hurt everyone.
Everyone wins—all the knuckleheads. Even the agents, who will get to force new contracts earlier in a player's career then ever before.
I think it's a brilliant idea. Perhaps one of the few good things to come out of this whole mess of an off-season.