JaMarcus Russell received a rookie contract from the Oakland Raiders that guaranteed him $32 million, Matt Leinart received a $12.9 million guarantee from the Arizona Cardinals, and Joey Harrington’s guarantee from the Detroit Lions was $13.9 million. What did these players all have in common? They never played a single down in the National Football League before receiving such lucrative deals.
In response, as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and Owners propose reducing guarantees paid to first-round draft picks by 60 percent. In addition, they want all first-round picks to be signed to a five-year contract. For subsequent picks, the Owners propose a compensation system allowing for individual contact negotiations – no rookie wage scale – but all contracts would have a fixed length of four years.
The Associated Press reported that more than $525 million in guaranteed payments went to first-round selections in 2010. The NFL wants to decrease that figure by $300 million.
Eagles’ president Joe Banner said the expenses associated with signing top picks are compromising the original aim of the draft. “The whole concept of the draft and ordering of the picks is to maintain competitive balance in the league,” Banner 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.”
The irony of it all is that it is the Owners themselves who offer the huge guaranteed bonuses to the first-round picks. They cannot control themselves, so they want to put it in writing in the new CBA to make sure that they limit their own spending.
Of course the Certified Player Representatives (Agents) have chimed in and said the proposal places unfair limitations on players entering the league. What they mean is that the proposal places an unfair limitation on the amount they can make off of their clients.