This is an important week for the continuing NFL lockout. The owners are meeting Tuesday in Chicago to try and hammer out some issues and, as has been reported, make sure that all the owners (at least almost all of them) are on board with their strategy moving forward, considering that reportedly there are a handful of owners that are not pleased with the direction things are going.
When the owners and players get back together, there is one issue, dealing with the money that could hold things up. It isn't the big issue of dividing up the $9 billion, but rather the money that goes to rookies. One interesting thing to wonder is if the new CBA will include some sort of rookie wage scale.
This happens to be the one area I am staunchly in favor of the owners.
I don't necessarily mean to say that there needs to be a slotted salary for picks like in the NBA, but rather simply a much smaller total amount of money allotted to rookies.
The Cardinals have had issues with big money and disappointing contributions. They paid Levi Brown over $18 million in guaranteed money before he ever gave up a sack, got called for holding or got flagged for a false start. Matt Leinart? $12.9 million. What did that get them? Not much and, in Brown's case, a lot of sacks and gray hairs for everyone involved.
Patrick Peterson in the terms of the past would be due more than $20 million, which if he is to be as talented as we believe him to be and continue with the same work ethic he is reputed to have, then it will be fine. No one regrets paying Larry Fitzgerald any amount of money.
However, money changes people. Some keep doing what they have done, but others get complacent. They party, relax and some even stop listening to veteran players and coaches. This year, Cam Newton is the biggest risk. If he gets $40 million plus, what will he be and how will he respond to the new riches?
Of all the issues, it is clear that it makes the most sense to have the biggest contracts being paid to players that have established themselves -- the true stars. Not the potential stars.
How would I do it? Well, since a "wage-scale" is really sort of a dirty word for the players, the way to do it is to simply reduce the rookie cap. It still allows for negotiating with players, but it saves more money for the veterans. Then, to keep owners from going on the cheap, you raise the salary floor for teams. The rookie money is limited, but veteran money is increased.
It should be a win-win. You would think that the players would want this as well. The only ones involved who would not like it are agents, but they could learn to understand that they will get their money not the players' rookie deal, but in their second (and maybe third) contracts.