Chris Mortensen: No Rookie Wage Scale Until 2012


Reports had been swirling that the NFL was looking to implement a rookie wage scale. Agents and many media members were urging college juniors to enter the draft early so they could cash in on the big money while they could.

These reports are evidently false. Chris Mortensen of ESPN said today that a rookie wage scale was not likely until 2012 at the earliest.

Mortensen said, “Do not listen to agents who are scaring you into a rookie wage scale or a rookie cap. . . .  Don’t let agents deceive you and lie about this rookie wage scale and rookie cap that would affect you into coming out early.”

A rookie wage scale is not a guarantee either. Mortensen says 2012 is the earliest we could see one, but that doesn’t mean there will ever be one. It gives the NFL Player’s Union more time to fight the cause.

The new executive director of the player’s union, DeMaurice Smith, has said multiple times that he opposes the idea of a rookie scale.

Back in August, union spokesman George Atallah had told NFL Fanhouse, “What the rookie wage scale does is take the onus off the owners, who are the LHRC — the lower right-hand corner of the check. They sign the check. It’s not the union’s fault that teams draft poorly and they don’t pan out. Until we own a team, we’re not not going to regulate how much rookies make. We just won’t.

“The Eli Manning contract shows that clearly there’s money under the cap for these teams to spend on proven veterans if they want to,” Atallah said. “The argument that a rookie cap would allow them to spend more money on veterans is a smokescreen, because there’s already money there under the cap that’s unused.”

Whether you agree with having a rookie scale or not, the facts remain facts. If a team really does want money to go to the veteran players, they have the ability to make it happen. Teams are instead trying to save as much money as possible and deflect the blame.

All a rookie wage scale would do is allow owners to spend even less money.

A counter argument is by allowing a rookie wage scale we can see more movement at the top of the draft. Without ridiculous contracts being handed out, teams may be more willing to trade into the top portion of the draft.

What this argument ignores is that in the past two drafts there have been three draft day trades inside of the top ten. As recently as this past April, the New York Jets jumped up twelve spots to select USC quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick.

If a team wants to trade for a player, they can make it happen. A rookie wage scale would not encourage trading, it would instead make teams more comfortable with the salary they would pay their selection, so they would stay put.

There is no way to know exactly how the wage scale would effect the National Football League until one is put into place, however, we may not ever see one and that is the smart decision.

The NFL doesn’t need a wage scale. All it does is switch the blame from owners to players and the players are not to blame. Look at the team’s scouting staffs, general managers, and owners for not properly evaluating talent. If they miss on a pick, they should have to pay for it.