Monday, July 25, 2011

Rookies Taking Huge Hit In New CBA: Veterans Pretty Happy About It

Ask fans and players alike about the exorbitant rookie contracts of the past several years, and you'll find that both sides thought the same thing: it was ridiculous.

With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was just recently signed between the NFL players and owners, an entirely new way to pay rookies has been laid out, with provisions to stop the holdouts that have plagued NFL teams and fans alike.

Here's some key points in the new CBA that pertain to Rookies:

  • First round rookie contracts will be four-years with an option for a fifth; lower round picks will have four-year contracts; undrafted rookie free agents will have three-year contracts
  • Last year, #1 overall pick Sam Bradford received a six-year, $78 million contract where $50 million was guaranteed
  • Under the new CBA, Cam Newton is expected to get a four-year, $22 million deal.  That's a significant cut from the year before; at least a 50% reduction in guaranteed money.
  • Because of the reduction in their initial contract, rookies will sign only a four-year initial deal, with an option for a fifth year.  For top 10 picks, the fifth year salary will be an average of the top 10 salaries at their position during the third year of the contract.  
  • For Newton, this would probably be $14 million for his fifth year if the Panthers pick up his option, making the contract actually worth $36 million over 5 years.  Still a significant savings to owners.
  • The money that the owners will save with this rookie pay scale will not go right back into the owners' pockets.  They will be required to re-allocate that money saved into veterans salaries. 
  • There's hardly any reason for a rookie to holdout anymore (such as Michael Crabtree's protracted lockout).  Contract length and rookies salaries will now largely be fixed (more details to come as the CBA is released), so the only thing for agents to negotiate would be the amount of guaranteed money.  

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