Share This Page

NFL pushing for rookie cutbacks

NEW YORK — The NFL wants to cut almost 60 percent of guaranteed pay for first-round draft picks, lock them in for five years and divert the savings to veterans' salaries and benefits.

More than $525 million went to first-rounders in guaranteed payments in 2010. The league wants to decrease that figure by $300 million, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The league's offer would free a total of more than $1.2 billion over four years through 2015 — $37.5 million per team overall — and slow the growth rate of guaranteed payments to first-rounders, which the documents show increased by 233 percent from 2000-10.

Quarterback busts such as JaMarcus Russell ($32 million), Matt Leinart ($12.9 million), David Carr ($15 million) and Joey Harrington ($13.9 million) received huge guaranteed payments that totaled $367 million in the past 10 drafts. Of course, Eli Manning ($24 million), Philip Rivers ($17.9 million) and Matt Ryan ($34.7 million) have not done too badly for their teams.

Guaranteed money paid to top-10 selections since 2000 reached nearly $2 billion. Guaranteed payments for all first-rounders were at $3.5 billion. The average career length of a first-round pick since 1993 is 9.3 years.

Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner said the original aim of the draft is being compromised by the expenses associated with signing top picks.

"The whole concept of the draft and ordering of the picks is to maintain competitive balance in the league," he said. "Now, teams get top picks who have become so expensive and there's the risk you can miss, and it makes the ability to trade in and out of those spots almost impossible. It can become a disadvantage to be in one of the top spots."

During talks for a new collective bargaining agreement, the league proposed eliminating holdouts by reducing the maximum allowable salary if a rookie isn't signed when training camp begins. The NFL also suggested eliminating holdouts for all veterans by prohibiting renegotiations of contracts if a player holds out in the preseason.

The compensation system would not include a rookie wage scale and would allow for individual contract negotiations. Contracts would have a fixed length of four years for players chosen in the second through seventh rounds and would not affect salaries for those rounds, the league said.

"From a fairness standpoint, the simple concept to drive this should be that the players who contribute the most to the league should get the most money," Banner said. "What this system does is ensures players playing well in the NFL and bringing in fans and driving TV (ratings) will get the money that went to players who turned out not to be so good. And that is good for everyone."

The NFL Players Association was not immediately available for comment.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.