New NFL offer to players would change rookie compensation

The National Football League (NFL) owners and players have been engaged in contract talks over a new collective bargaining agreement for quite some time, and has been discussed several times in previous posts here on the blog.  While things have been somewhat quiet for the last week, ESPN is reporting that the league has made a new offer, which would essentially put a rookie compensation structure into place, and that some of the revenue being taken away from rookies would go to compensate veteran players.

Specifically, the new deal would take about $300 million a year away from first-round draft picks and move that money to veteran player salaries and benefits for all players.  This new offer is said to free up around $1.2 billion in the next five season, and would help to reduce payments to rookies which have been quite high over the last several seasons.  In 2010 alone, over half a billion dollars was paid by NFL owners as guaranteed money to the 32 players who were selected in the first round of the draft.

This new proposal would not be setting a rookie wage scale, but rather would be capping the maximum salary allowed to be paid to a new player entering the league.  Of course several agents for potential first round draft picks in this years draft are already coming out public with how unfair this new system is, as it may cost them and their clients millions of dollars in guaranteed salary.

Agent Peter Schaffer might be the brightest of the group with his comments, he notes that bringing in a new system would be “scouting insurance” in case a team made a bad choice on a first round draft pick.  He also notes:

“It also makes the rookies more valuable when you reduce the amount you are paying to the young guy, This will eliminate the veteran middle class because teams can have younger players who are making less and are under fixed contracts.”

Personally, I think its about time the NFL tried to make this concession in the labor talks.  I figured that they would try to take a bigger piece of the pie, but try to compensate the veterans (who are a big group of those representing the players in the negotiations) by pulling money from rookies.  Though it would be interesting to see how such a change in the rookie wage scale, might cause teams to try and get rid of veterans earlier if a rookie with comparable skills and ability can replace them for a much cheaper price than before.

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