The owners and the players have finally reached an agreement on a new rookie wage scale that will take affect this year once the new CBA is finalized. The rookie wage scale was viewed as the last major stumbling block to a new deal, though there are still other details to be hashed out before the deal is complete. Aside from a more structured (and heavily decreased) set parameters for rookie deals, here are some additional details, according to ESPN:
According to sources, the terms agreed to on the rookie wage system are, in part, as follows:
• Five-year contracts, with a team option for the fifth year.
• If the team option is exercised, in the fifth year the top 10 picks would receive a salary equal to the average of the top 10 player salaries at their respective positions. That money would be guaranteed if the option is exercised after the third year of the contract.
• If the team option is exercised, in the fifth year picks 11-32 would receive a salary equal to the average of the Nos. 3-25 salaries at their respective positions. That money would be guaranteed if the option is exercised after the third year of the contract.
That fifth-year option was the major roadblock in finalizing the wage scale, but are you can see above, a compromise was struck. While it may seem like rookies are getting the short end of the stick, at least one player agent doesn’t see it that way. Joby Branion, the agent for the second overall pick in this year’s draft Von Miller, said the following:
You may not get what you’d like to start. But it may work better for you in the long term because you might get to free agency sooner and might end up with more money in that second contract than you would have in the old situation.
Therein lies the compromise. The owners have a reduced financial risk selecting at the top of the draft while the rookies could get a large fifth-year salary with the possibility of it being guaranteed (average of the top 10 salaries at their position) or get a big contract earlier in their career by hitting free agency sooner. The Patriots are in a very good position right now and in the future thanks to this deal.
First off, the Patriots once again will have two first-round picks heading into next year’s draft (unless they make some blockbuster trade). The possibility of packaging those picks and moving up into the top ten is greater thanks to the reduced salaries of those picks. Also, the Pats could keep those picks and actually use them to draft two first-round talents, again thanks in part to the reduced financial risk.
For right now, the Pats will save money on their first-round selection, LT Nate Solder. If he turns into a high-quality starter, they can exercise that fifth-year option and get the five years they prefer in their first-round players. If he falters, they’re not on the hook for that fifth year. Also, with a smaller salary, they don’t have to necessarily rush Solder onto the field and start him (not something they tend to do anyway) and can take their time. That is likely the best move with none of the rookies having mini-camps or an offseason program. There should also be more cap room now to re-sign Matt Light and ease Solder’s transition to the NFL without risking Tom Brady’s health.