The NFL Rookie Pay Scale Debate – Does the NFL Need to Regulate Rookie Salaries?

Read Loyal Homer’s argument in favor of a rookie pay scale in the NFL and Bleacher Fan’s argument against it.

San Francisco 49ers first round draft pick, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, is making quite a fuss. Crabtree, drafted tenth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, is seeking a rookie contract worth more than $23.5M in guaranteed money. When the Oakland Raiders took Maryland wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick, the 49ers undoubtedly believed they had the leverage they needed to get Crabtree into camp on time. Heyward-Bey would sign the first wide receiver contract, and the Crabtree’s would fall in line behind it.

But, that is not exactly how events are transpiring. Crabtree is apparently expecting a contract value higher than that of the seventh overall pick, given his (and his agent’s) belief that he was the best wide receiver in the draft. Does that logic make sense? Maybe only to an agent… and a cousin. Crabtree’s cousin/advisor, David Wells (no, not that one) has informed anyone within earshot that Crabtree is so put off by the 49ers inability to award him seventh overall-type money that the receiver is willing to sit out the entire 2009 season and re-enter the draft in 2010. Brilliant, right????

Sure, it is the age old problem with rookies and agents. They place their value higher than the league does AND they fail to understand that, on rare occasions, NFL teams draft according to NEED, not to the frustratingly subjective “talent.” But, I digress.

What Crabtree’s situation does put into perspective is the oft-discussed rookie pay scale in the NFL. This type of situation would not arise if rookies in the NFL were each paid according to the position they were drafted. The NFL would control the scale, and it would be increased year by year according to the changes in the salary cap, revenue sharing agreements, so on and so forth.

Crabtree’s situation is not unique, either. Number one overall pick Matthew Stafford is getting $41.7M in guaranteed money from the Detroit Lions. For perspective, that’s $0.7M more than proven, game-changing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is getting from the chronically overpaying Washington Redskins. Huge rookie salaries and rookie contract hold outs are as certain as an August gathering in Canton.

The NFL chief punisher/commissioner, Roger Goodell, assured college football players last December that a rookie pay scale would not be instituted until 2011, at the earliest. But, it appears it is an option on the table – at least in New York. Goodell “officially” favors a system that affords rookies all a predetermined contract level plus the opportunity to renegotiate their deal once they have proven themselves. Since team owners are known for their good natured benevolence, it seems certain this approach would work. (I sure hope you readers are picking up on this sarcasm.)

What our fearless debaters will address today is…

Does the NFL need a rookie pay scale?

Loyal Homer will argue in favor of a rookie pay scale regulating all NFL rookie salaries to a set level while Bleacher Fan will argue against the need for a rookie pay scale.

Gentlemen, you are on the clock.

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