Why the rookie wage scale is broken, and how the NFL can fix it
The exorbitant money being doled out to the first 10-15 picks in the NFL draft has gotten out of hand. And there are a multitude of reasons why the NFL needs to revamp the current system for paying its rookies. Here's a look at why rookie compensation should -- and likely will -- be fixed before a new collective bargaining agreement is signed:
Because of that inequity, most teams would do almost anything to move out of the top 10, especially those holding selections in the top six or seven, where the numbers really get eye-popping. One team executive whose franchise assigns an internal value to every selection in the draft recently told me picks at the top end of the first round have a negative value associated with him. No wonder there's so much interest in trading down.
The possibility that teams could actually consider
Some teams figured this out several years ago and went about trying to acquire as many of those valued choices as possible. New England annually found ways to stockpile second rounders and
The best current example of this is Titans running back
How good is Johnson? Titans receivers coach
And it's not just Knox. Colts cornerback
What I would propose is very similar to some of the basic tenets of the current NBA system for paying its rookies. I like the idea of two-year contracts with a team option for a third. Most teams have a pretty good feel for what they have in a player after two years but the option year would allow those teams to retain their rights at a higher salary for an additional year if they still want to give him one more year to develop or show what he can do.
Every single pick would be slotted beforehand at compensation levels far lower than what we are currently witnessing for the top 10. After two years, teams would then have to make a decision whether to extend a player like Johnson or dump a mistake like Jets outside linebacker
Sure, some of the elite agents wouldn't be happy. And I bet some teams confident in their ability to draft well would not like the idea that they only have the player's rights for two or three years as opposed to four or five. Even so, I think the pros outweigh the cons in this instance.