The NFL Rookie Pay Scale Debate – Stop the Madness and Set the Salary

Read the debate intro and Bleacher Fan’s argument against implementing a rookie pay scale.

In these tough times, don’t you get tired of hearing about financial issues on the news? Not only is it bad on Wall Street but it is rough in sports, also. Franchises and organizations are cutting back on expenses and eliminating jobs. Attendance is down at sporting events, and revenue is down across the board.

Apparently, NFL rookies do not watch CNN or ESPN!!

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. I am not in favor of holdouts period. Not by rookies, not by veterans. Just last week, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White held out for a week. Fortunately for the Falcons (and really for White) he agreed to a lucrative (and perhaps excessive) contract over the weekend. Veterans have their own reasons for holding out, and though I may not agree with the concept, I guess I can see their point of view.

But, what leg do rookies have to stand on when holding out? What good really comes out of it in the long haul? They miss a lot of training camp, get way behind in learning the playbook, and miss bonding with their new teammates. You know how it takes you awhile to get to know the new guy in the cubicle next to you at work? The same concept applies in football. It takes time for that work chemistry to work. Holding out endangers that whole process. I cannot imagine how a rookie holding out endears himself to his veteran teammates.

A set rookie salary scale will alleviate these problems. The contracts that Matthew Stafford signed this year, and that Matt Ryan signed last year, are just ridiculous. I am not the only one who thought Ryan’s contract was “disheartening.” To eliminate these contracts, the NFL needs to come up with a rookie salary scale, similar to what the NBA does. The league and the players union can negotiate to come up with an appropriate scale based on a variety of factors. The number one pick would have a predetermined salary. Michael Crabtree would have a set salary, so he would not be able to hold out for a better contract. This would be welcomed by most veterans of the league, many of whom believe in earning money before becoming one of the richest guys in a league. When the contract is up after three or four or however many years, then the player is eligible to sign a big extension. If a player is unable to reach an agreement with a team, then they are free to test the open market. The NBA has proven that this system can work. I think it could work in the NFL.

Do you think it is fair for Matthew Stafford to be making more than Albert Haynesworth at this point in Stafford’s career? Maybe Stafford plays incredibly well over the course of the contract and it ends up being a bargain contract. But you cannot say that at this point without him ever having taken a snap. The madness has to stop! Stop it now! Scale it down before it is too late! It is only going to get worse!

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