SBD/Issue 152/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Goodell Says Lack Of Rookie Cap Has Competitive Ramifications

Goodell Says Players Who Have Performed
On NFL Level Should Be Compensated
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Saturday appeared on NFL Network and said the current system of signing rookie players "has been skewed," and it is "not only having financial ramifications to clubs, it's having competitive ramifications." Goodell said he believes NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith and the players "want the money to go to proven veterans and people that are in the NFL rather than people that may be out of the NFL because they didn't pan out." But Smith said, "The owners sign the checks, our players don't. ... Our players know the work that goes into making a decision on how much to pay. That's not a decision that lies on the players and they know that. So, in respect to a rookie (salary) cap, I am very happy with the scenario that we have now" (NFL Network, 4/25). Goodell Friday met with the APSE and said of a potential rookie salary cap, "It is getting to the point where the risk is so great by having that high draft choice that if you make a mistake, the impact can be so great that [it] can set you back from a competitive standpoint. ... We want the players who have performed on the NFL level to be compensated" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/25). More Goodell: "It’s not that I’m opposed to the rookies getting money, I think that’s great. But I think the veterans that have proven themselves on the NFL level deserve the bulk of the compensation. When a player is drafted and doesn’t make it and he takes that money out of the system, that’s a disadvantage to the other players in the league" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 4/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote Goodell "needs to take a look at how the NBA's rookie salary scale impacted that league before he charges down the same route." After the NBA in '98 instituted the salary scale, there was "no longer a financial incentive for players to remain in college and improve their draft status." Goodell is "playing politics here and playing it well," as there "isn't much public patience with massive contracts handed out to fresh-faced college guys" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/24).

Stafford's Guaranteed $41.7M Sets Record
For Most Guaranteed Money In NFL History
EXHIBIT A: The Lions Friday agreed to terms with QB Matthew Stafford on a six-year, $78M deal, including $41.7M guaranteed, and in N.Y., Gary Myers wrote Stafford "represents all that is wrong with the league's system of paying rookies." Stafford already has "set a record for most guaranteed money in NFL history, breaking the previous record" of $41M set in February by Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth. When Stafford can sign such a deal, there are "obviously no financial constraints in place that are working," and it is "clear the rookie money has gotten completely out of control and is hurting the ability of bad teams to improve" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/26). SI.com's Peter King wrote, "I simply don't understand why, in this era when teams and the league complain constantly about the size of rookie contracts and guarantees, that the Lions paid Stafford 16[%] more in annual guarantees than last year's top pick." Stafford's contract is "sure to rekindle the debate -- and it should -- over the whole issue of paying rookies stupid sums they haven't earned" (SI.com, 4/25). Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom: “It’s insane to pay this much money to guys who have not played in the NFL yet” ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 4/26). In Detroit, Nicholas Cotsonika wrote of the rookie salary escalation, "It's got to stop. And you know the NFL is going to push hard for a sane rookie wage scale in labor negotiations" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/25). In Toronto, Rob Longley wrote Stafford's deal "will make owners around the league cringe and surely will be the impetus for change when negotiations get cooking for the next" CBA (TORONTO SUN, 4/26).

PLAYERS NOT THRILLED WITH DEAL: Vikings QB Sage Rosenfels said of Stafford's deal, "It just blows me away. Right or wrong, he makes twice as much money as [Patriots QB] Tom Brady. To me, it doesn't make sense." Vikings DE Jared Allen: "It's outrageous, absolutely outrageous. The guy's never taken a snap. I'm happy for him, but we got guys in this league that have played 10, 12 years that earn their wages every day and they don't see that kind of money" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/26).

AGENTS DISCUSS SYSTEM: Sportstars Inc. agent Jason Chayut noted the Draft “has proven to be an inexact science,” and a rookie cap will be “something that will certainly be up for discussion with the next CBA.” Agent Leigh Steinberg noted signing bonuses first were given to players due to “competition between leagues.” Steinberg: “It’s not like if they don’t sign with their team they have a great choice. They’re not going to go back to their campuses and develop a new theory of superconductivity.” Meanwhile, Chayut said, “Different agents have a lock on some of the higher picks and they wield a lot of clout behind the scenes with the CBA negotiations. It’s in their best interests to keep some of these top picks getting these exorbitant amounts of money” (“America’s Nightly Scoreboard,” Fox Business, 4/24).

LIONS LOSE AGAIN: In Detroit, Michael Rosenberg wrote the Lions "got absolutely schooled on this contract negotiation," and they "totally botched it." The Lions "cost themselves millions of dollars they could have spent on other players, and they once again caused people around the NFL to shake their heads." The Lions "complained that rookie bonuses are way too high, then went way higher than they ever needed to go." The Lions and President Tom Lewand "looked like amateurs here." Instead of "saying they needed to sign somebody to a reasonable deal, they said they needed to sign somebody before the draft," which "put the pressure on them" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/25). Also in Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote the Lions "had no choice but basically giving Stafford what he demanded in guaranteed dollars." However, the anger "should be directed at the NFL and the Players' Association for a [CBA] that unfairly and outrageously rewards unproven potential" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/25).

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