Money Madness: Why Are NFL Rookies So Overpaid?

Brandon ButeraContributor IAugust 1, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Quarterback Sam Bradford (R) from the Oklahoma Sooners poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as they hold up a St. Louis Rams jersey after the Rams selected Bradford numer 1 overall during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

QB Sam Bradford signs with the St. Louis Rams to a six year, 78 million dollar deal.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign DT Gerald McCoy to a five year, 63 million dollar deal.

OT Trent Williams agrees to a six year, 60 million dollar deal with the Washington Redskins.

Each of these rookies was drafted in the top five picks of the latest NFL draft, earning them these unbelievable pay checks. But isn't it crazy for an NFL team to spend so much money on such inexperienced players with unpredictable futures?

Sure, they are the top athletes in college, but the NFL is a totally different level of skill. These rookies are the best athletes of their age group. They could develop into some great players, over time.

But to pay such vast sums of money so quickly?

Very few rookies become instant successes. Most players never become 78 million dollar successes. Add in the possibility of injury and these teams could end up throwing away millions. They could also be wasting the possibility of future talent in these players. So why risk it?


Here's an example.

In the 2007 NFL Draft, JaMarcus Russell is picked first overall by the Oakland Raiders. He agrees to a 6 year, 68 million dollar deal. He was going to be the franchise quarterback that would bring this Raiders team out of the dumps and back into the spotlight.

After a few disastrous seasons, marked by inexperience and lack of leadership skills, Russell is called a fluke. This offseason, the Raiders announce the release of JaMarcus Russell from the team. Russell is not hired by any team in the NFL. He is branded one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Such expectations created such a pay check, all to waste.


Many high expectations are met by injuries and inexperience. Not until seasons later, after these rookies make their millions, are they truly ready to succeed in the NFL. So why spend so much money on rookies that could end up spending years as a backup first?

There has to be a solution to this big spending on rookie talent.

Possibly, pay the rookies collectively smaller amounts of money. If every team lowered their prices, all the agents would have to accept lower prices.

Maybe commissioner Roger Goodell could introduce the idea of a rookie salary cap.

I don't know, but something needs to change. The NFL owners have to do something to fix this problem.