Should There Be a Rookie Salary Cap?
Should unproven commodities garner top wages? To that direct question, I say no. I believe a rookie pay scale is long overdue. Depending on where a player is selected, he would have a predetermined contract on the table waiting for him to sign. This takes out the holdout possibility that cost last year’s top pick, Jamarcus Russell, to essentially miss his entire rookie campaign. In my vision, which I presume is shared among many analysts as well as most General Managers, rookies would sign a guaranteed two to four-year contract, which still makes them free agents entering the prime of their career. It would also make holding a top five selection in the draft less of a liability than it is today. If you are forced to pay a college kid, as good as he may be, sixty-million dollars, that just made him in some cases the highest paid player on his particular team, without ever stepping onto the field. Here’s my idea in a nutshell.....

First and second round picks- first pick four years/35 million dollars                         
                                                    second pick- four years/30 million....
last pick of round two- four years/6 million....


So on and so forth; I'm not a mathematician so I'll leave the decline in the pay scale up to the geniuses running NFL teams.



When you get to the third and fourth rounds, the risk in selecting a player increases drastically, thus only a three-year contract would be signed. The numbers would coincide accordingly the later the player is selected. Fifth through seventh round picks would receive a guaranteed two-year deal. If you believe in a player enough to draft him, then you should be willing to give him at least two years to prove himself as a viable commodity to your organization, or don't draft him at all.



With a rising salary cap on a yearly basis, it would give teams more flexibility to pay veteran talent that has already proven themselves. There are draft busts on a yearly basis and teams shouldn't be as heavily penalized for making one or two bad decisions. This idea of a rookie pay scale has been tried and true for quite some time in the NBA; it takes a lot of power out of agents’ hands and puts it back in the hands of the brass making the picks. Players and agents hold too much power at the bargaining table and the draft shouldn't be ran by the players but should be run by the front offices of each and every franchise. The NFL needs to realize that they are the only realistic option for amateur football stars and they should put their foot down soon. I say, have this in place by the 2010 draft.



Obviously these numbers are flexible on both years and pay; they are just the opinions of an educated fan. On a side note, I am tired of players signing eight to ten-year deals and then wanting to renegotiate half way through. These men should be smart enough, given their free education, to realize that the cap goes up every season and they don't need to sign their careers away. Sign a four or five-year deal, don't holdout, and fans won't call you out for being money-hungry, selfish athletes.

By T. Lewis,
April 24, 2008