Roger Goodell, I Applaud You!

Eddie GriffinSenior Analyst IJune 27, 2008

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might have just won the “average Joe six-pack” over. Today, Goodell was quoted as saying that rookie salaries are “ridiculous.”

“There’s something wrong about the system,” said Goodell to the Associated Press. “The money should go to people who perform.”

Goodell believes that money should go to proven veterans and not rookies. Many eyebrows were raised when Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long, the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, signed a five-year deal worth over $57 million, with $30 million guaranteed.

Not only is that the highest contract for a rookie offensive lineman, but it is also the biggest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history.

Shortly after the draft, Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan also broke the bank. The Falcons inked him to a six-year, $72 million dollar deal with $27.3 million guaranteed.

Ryan’s contract received more scrutiny, because its numbers were close to the contracts of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger, just to name a few. Not to mention, Ryan’s contract is higher than those of David Garrard, Donovan McNabb, and Drew Brees, all proven quarterbacks.

“He doesn’t have to play a down in the NFL and he already has his money,” Goodell said during a Q&A session during a function at the Chautauqua Institution. “Now, with the economics where they are, the consequences if you don’t evaluate that player, you can lose a significant amount of money.”

You are 100 percent correct Mr. Goodell. Why should a young kid, who has never stepped on the field in the NFL, make more than a proven veteran? It’s, to quote Goodell again, “ridiculous.”

Many have pitched the idea that the NFL should bring in a rookie salary cap, much like the NBA's slot-system. Their rookie pay scale assigns salaries by their draft position (the first overall pick receives more than the second pick, the second more than the third, etc...).

The only problem is that Gene Upshaw, president of the NFL Player’s Union, doesn’t back it. He claims that by capping rookie salaries, veterans will miss out on bigger deals.

“[I’m] concerned that keeping rookie salaries too cheap could price veterans out of jobs, especially those who make one of the varying minimum salaries,” said Upshaw, “We don’t want to get into a position where the league is keeping four or five rookies because it’s cheaper than keeping one or two veterans.”

While there is credence to what Upshaw says, in the end, teams will keep talent no matter what age they are. In fact, most teams seem to be cutting veterans when they have to deal with the high-paid rookie.

And in some cases, it comes back to bite them.

Just look at the Chicago Bears. They traded Thomas Jones, a proven running back, to the Jets in order to put high-paid draft pick Cedric Benson on the field. Now the Bears are paying for it in the form of a cap hit.

So, maybe if the commish starts to speak out on big deals, Upshaw will have no choice but to step up and work out an agreement to please both sides.

Kudos Goodell! This is one of the many issues the NFL has to solve.