There seems to be a growing resolve as of late around the league to try and put into place some sort of rookie salary cap, much like what is already done in the NBA. While some vets are getting paid, most are watching as young players who have never taken an NFL snap are coming in and just by signing are becoming the highest paid player on the team. Bottom line – the system is flawed.
Sure, you can blame the owners and clubs for outdoing one another when it comes to signing draft picks, but the bottom line is some franchises are in dire need to new, young players, and if a first-round pick holds them hostage for more money, usually it’s the team that gives in. Take last years #1 pick – JaMarcus Russell. He eventually got what he wanted and came to terms with the Raiders, but only after the team gave in a little to his wants that his agent likely put in his head. Russell’s rookie year was basically a waste due to the greed that has become so obvious in the NFL today.
This year has already gotten off to a fast start with rookies, as Jake Long of the Dolphins broke the bank before draft day, signing a five-year mega-deal worth $60 mil, $30 mil guaranteed. The real deal that is sending the league in a frenzy right now is Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s deal. The QB, who again, has yet to take an NFL snap, signed a six-year deal worth $72 million, $34.5 mil of which is guaranteed. Anyone bother to make sure that Ryan is not going to be a bust? I thought so.
Ryan’s deal will push up the ante on the rest of the first round (minus Jake Long of course), and teams around the league that wanted to try and be somewhat reasonable with their high first round picks had to cringe when they saw the money involved in the Ryan deal. Sure he’s a QB, and they usually make more, but $72 mil with $34.5 guaranteed? The Falcons may end up regretting that one if Ryan is not the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.
The salary cap this year is $116 million, and league commissioner Roger Goodell says that by around 2011 or 2012 he can see a cap worth $160 mil. While normal inflation has something to do with that, a lot of the blame also has to be put on the fact that rookies are walking into the league and making more money year in and year out. It’s just not right.
The NBA has a basic system for rookies in which they are slotted, the top pick gets the most highest pay, and so on and so forth. A simple system that does not throw the league in an uproar like the rookie salary system that is hurting the NFL. This is a situation that the league had better get straight soon, or they are going to have chaos for years to come as unproven players make more and more money year after year.