Should there be a rookie salary cap in the NFL?
Every team in the NFL tries finding a "face of the franchise" to gain popularity among the fans and create revenue for the team. Having an early draft pick in the NFL draft, is a way for teams to improve themselves on the field, but also to have a fresh new stamp on the morale of the franchise.
Teams pay rookies large sums of money in hopes that they can rebuild the team and create a new attitude in the locker room. However, there is no reason rookies should be paid more than the best players in the NFL that play the same position. Rookies are unproven, while the other superstars are seasoned veterans that have proved themselves.
The NFL is very unique, as they are able to cut a player whenever they chose. That is why signing bonuses are where the real money is, and players worry more about the signing bonus than their contract.
The two biggest faces in the NFL are New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback, Peyton Manning. In 2004, after Manning had already established himself in the NFL as a premier quarterback, he signed an astronomical seven year, 99.2 million dollar deal with 34.5 million guaranteed in the signing bonus.
That year, Eli Manning was chosen first overall in the draft and signed a six year deal worth 54 million, and 20 million was guaranteed. There is no reason for a rookie to make that much money before ever stepping foot onto an NFL field.
In 2005, Tom Brady was a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and restructured his contract. It was worth 60 million over six years with a 14.5 million signing bonus. The first overall pick, Alex Smith for the San Francisco 49ers signed a deal for six years 49.5 million, with 24 million guaranteed. How in the world is an unproven rookie making more money than Tom Brady?
I understand teams invest a lot of money into their high draft picks, but it is undeserving. There should be a salary cap for all the rookies. For every great first overall draft pick, there is a bust that wasn't able to cut it. That is why there should be a salary cap for all rookies.
Maybe there should be a deal that limits the contract to four years, because, by that time, teams will be able to see whether or not this player can cut it in the NFL. The maximum signing bonus should be eight million dollars, with a salary of two million per year. If you are not able to "feed your family" (thanks Latrell Sprewell) on that type of salary, you really should consider hiring a financial adviser.
After this time, sign the player for whatever you would like. Unproven players should not make more money than the best players at their position that have excelled year in and year out.
This has become a pressing issue around the NFL, especially with a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players' union to be addressed next month. DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players union, will be meeting with team owners, hoping to avoid a 2011 lockout shortened season.