Sam Bradford May Be Highest Paid Rookie Ever, Forever

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners warms up before a game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium on September 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NFL is entering its "Final League Year" in which the current collective bargaining agreement ends in March 2011, and 2010 may very well be the last NFL season without a rookie salary scale.

What does this mean for former Sooner QB Sam Bradford? He may very well go down as the highest paid rookie ever, forever, or at least an extremely long time. 

There is little doubt the players' union wants to create a full rookie salary scale that covers the entire contract of incoming rookies and the owners do as well as too many of them have been burned by draft-day busts.

The would-be rookies have absolutely no voice in the matter, and the only ones who have an interest in not instituting a full rookie salary scale, the agents, are not likely to create too much of a fuss because as long as the salary cap keeps rising, their percentages keeps going up.

Sure a few agents may fight it tooth and nail, but for the most part agents will not care too much who gets the dollars, veterans or rookies, as long as their clients and themselves see a net gain in dollars earned.

Even if you do not adjust for inflation, it may very well be that Bradford would be the highest paid rookie his entire lifetime because it would probably take an instituted slotted rookie pay scale a long time to ever catch up to the amount of money being paid today.

One, if they slot it by draft pick, which is highly likely, I doubt you would see a number one pick get more than $10 million a year, and that would likely be a three-year contract with a team option for another year much like the NBA does now.

The slotted formula is highly likely to be adopted because the NFL rookie cap, better known as the "Player Entering Pool," is already slotted by draft pick, which leads to the rookies getting very little of their money in year one and that big payday does not come to year two.

That could possibly mean disaster for Bradford if a holdout occurs.

Under the new CBA, I expect to see the rookie cap extended to a full rookie salary scale covering their entire first contract.

Expect to see a yearly percentage increase built into new the Collective Bargaining Agreement somewhere between two to five percent or more likely tied to the percentage of increase in the yearly salary cap, which would mean a year-to-year decline would be possible, though currently not likely.

Based on Matthew Stafford's 2009 contract as the number one pick, which was reported to be six years for $78 million dollars, expect Bradford to sign for six years, between $80-to-85-million dollars.

That would mean that if a rookie-salary scale were to be implemented with  a three-year guaranteed contract, the number one pick would have to be slotted at $27 million a year to overcome Bradford's likely contract. 

Seeing as even the highest-paid player in the NFL currently makes a little over $16 million a year, we are likely decades away from inflation causing rookies to earn $27 million under a rookie pay scale.

Of course, this is all speculation and because the NFL does have a rookie cap now, which causes the majority of these huge rookie contracts to be paid in the second year and without a guaranteed "League Year" in 2011, Bradford could possibly get screwed if a holdout were to occur.

However, for now, it appears Bradford will be the highest paid rookie ever for a very long time.

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