The No. 1 overall pick in this year's NFL entry draft (along with a lot of other first-round picks) has not been signed, yet. Nobody knows why. After all most teams agree to terms with the first overall pick in a draft before drafting him. It seems like the logical thing to do, and I support it, but the Rams may have a very good reason to not sign him quickly.
The NFL is entering the final year of its CBA, and right now one of the major issues the NFL has with the NFLPA is that the rookies are making so much money. Matt Stafford already makes as much as some of the richest quarterbacks in the NFL.
The NFL has argued the NFLPA cannot contest this as the draft picks are not yet part of the NFLPA, which means the NFLPA should not represent them. I think this is wrong because the moment you are signed, you are a member of the NFLPA. So this process affects future NFLPA members and so they should be fighting for their rights.
Even with that argument I don't think anyone can defend the outrageous salaries rookies seem to be getting these days. Matt Ryan makes $12 million per year, but then again Jamarcus Russell made a tonne, too. Most quarterbacks in the NFL (like Tom Brady) don't make that much on a per year basis.
Tom Brady only makes $10 million per year on average, and he has three Super Bowl rings. Compare that with the $12-$13 million per year rookie quarterbacks seem to make these days. They are unproven commodities and should be paid far less than a superstar like Brady.
So with all these arguments I think it is safe to say in the next labour negotiations, the NFL should be able to shrink the rookie salaries to far lower levels like $1 million per year. This way teams will not be set back for years with one awful draft pick (which happens even to the best of general managers).
So what does this have to do with all the rookies in this year's draft? Well it gives the negotiating team far more leverage than they've ever had before. Suppose the Rams said to Bradford they'll pay him $6 million per year for six years, Bradford and his camp would laugh. Then the team points out with the rookie salary cap about to be pulled out in the new CBA if he enters next year's draft he will be lucky to get $6 million per year, and suddenly $6 million does not sound so bad.
However, these players will not give it up so easily. They have been raised in the time where NFL teams paid insane amounts of money to high draft picks. This may be why so few first-round picks have signed. After all the primary source of leverage the rookies had was that they would re-enter the draft the following year, but now that threat is gone. We could finally see the power in the NFL draft picks contract negotiations shift from the rookie to the team.
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