Roger Goodell is now negotiating the collective bargaining agreement for 2011 and on. I have an idea for Goodell:
It is definitely time to do something about the NFL players' salaries.
Jamarcus Russell has clearly shown the NFL that owners shouldn't put that kind of money in a kid's hand right away. Players should put in the work to get big contracts.
If you give them the money right off the bat, you get players like Darrell Revis and Chris Johnson, who have one big year and think they're too good for their contracts. There is a reasonable solution for that.
For starters, the NFL should take a page from the NBA's book. Jamarcus Russell has shown that a rookie salary cap is surely needed. Therefore, all rookies will be at camp on time like they need to be.
Veteran salaries should be categorized just like the NBA. There should be a max contract on a position basis. Mid-level exemptions should also be in place to to go along with the league minimum.
All the top players would be paid the same. That way, the fourth rated corner won't hold out because he had a better year than the third rated corner.
Free agency should also be handled the same way as the NBA. When a player hits free agency, his original franchise should be able to give the player the most money. Football is the ultimate team game, and teams should be able to stay together.
There should be an automatic incentive clause for the player that performs at the top of his position. Chris Johnson would get the position max for leading the league in rushing this past year.
He can then go back to playing for his signed contract money unless he leads the league again. If they don't redo his deal, he'll still be compensated for what he did. The owner also has another year to see if he wants to redo the contract.
Setting the pay scale this way would make all the players work harder. There would be no hold outs or animosity toward other players because of salary. Players would get rewarded for staying home, too.
This somewhat takes the agent out of the equation.
Finally, the players can just play football!