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Rookie Wage Scale Takes Center Stage

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Rookie Wage Scale Takes Center Stage

A wise man, I think it was former New York Giants general manager George Young, once said There is no "close" - there is only "done" when it came to an NFL labor deal.

Truer words have never been spoken.

Back in March, when the league and the former players union were about as acidic toward each other as two sides can be, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports offered this glimmer of hope:

...the league and the union have reached a basic compromise on a rookie wage scale that will replace the current rookie salary cap. The owners backed off the idea of requiring first-round picks to sign five-year deals, instead limiting the contracts to four years before a player could become a free agent. The agreement is also expected to include a stipulation limiting the amount of guaranteed money and signing bonus offered to draft picks.

Fast forward to yesterday and the latest on the talks from Albert Breer:

As part of its proposal, the league is asking for a system setting the limit for length on first-round deals to five years. Under the old collective bargaining agreement, the NFL allowed six-year deals to the first 16 picks.

Meanwhile, the level to which players have been willing to cut rookie money is tied directly to the years on such deals. More significant economic changes are agreeable to the players if all rookie deals are limited to four years, which was the case for players selected in Rounds 2-7 under the expired CBA.

It's the fifth year where the disagreement arises. A proposal by the players allows a fifth year, but only as a team option year that would be fully guaranteed once exercised and pay players at the top of the market. The insistence is that players be treated as veterans in Year 5.

So, after "backing off" in March on their demands for first round picks to be required to sign a five year deal, the owners have once again pushed the issue front and center.

There is no "close" - there is only "done".

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DaveK's picture

"A proposal by the players allows a fifth year, but only as a team option year that would be fully guaranteed once exercised and pay players at the top of the market."

Isn't that about the same as a Franchise tag? This 'option year' would only be used on a top-tier player but the team would essentially be able to keep this player for 6 years (four year contract + the option year + the franchise tag) before giving them a new contract. So...the owners are really not giving up too much considering top draft picks now get 6 year deals. It seems reasonable to me that if the owners want a new lower wage scale for rookies then they will need to to drop down to four years and have a 5th year as an option with the franchise tag. If a team can't work out a new contract in five years then too bad.

Jeremy's picture

It sure sounds like it preforms a similar task, except much cheaper.

MarkinMadison's picture

Very similar. The devil is in the pay level. This weekend ESPN radio reported that the players were looking for the 5th year option to be paid at the same level as the 10th player by position. I forget the franchise formula now, but I want to say it is something like the average of the top 5. Given that the average life in the league is about 3 years, I can see why the players would want a fairly well compensated 5th year option.

ZeroTolerance's picture

God - make it stop!

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