Written by Jeff Nixon, posted August 25, 2010
On March 2, 2010 I wrote an article regarding rookie salaries and the proposed rookie wage scale. I noted in the article that the players selected in the first round of the 2009 draft received $462 Million in guaranteed bonuses. That’s right, just 32 players….possibly set for life if they are smart with their savings and investments.
There was some media speculation that the 2010 rookie draft picks might not receive as much money in this uncapped year. There was even talk about owner collusion in trying to keep salaries and bonuses down. But the fact is…… they did even better than last year!
The 32 players selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft received $528.59 Million in guaranteed money. Here is a link to a website that has every 2010 draft pick and their contract amount: rookie signing status.
All of the 2010 first round draft picks signed 5 year contracts, except for Sam Bradford the number one pick who signed a 6 year deal for $50 Million guaranteed and a maximum of $86 million in salary if he plays all six years.
When you add up all of first rounder’s guarenteed money and salaries and that could be earned over the length of their contracts, the total is $913.14 Million. Again, that’s just 32 players and most of them will make it to the end of their first contract.
All the rookies in rounds 2 through 7 signed three or four year deals. Their total signing bonuses (same as guaranteed money) are $127,534,964 and their potential earnings from salary are $521,123,000.
Add it all up and the total of guaranteed money going to the 255 rookies selected in the 2010 draft is over $656 Million.
These figures do not even take into account what these players will make through NFL Players Inc., – the marketing arm of the NFL Players Association – which currently generates over one hundred million in licensing fees from companies that use active and retired players to market their products and services. The NFL pays the NFLPA almost 44 million annually for the rights to active player’s images and marketing.
If the 2010 draft picks play for at least three years, they will also become eligible to receive money and benefits through the Second Career Savings Plan, the Annuity Plan, Player Performance Pool, Health Reimbursement Account, Tuition Assistance and when they retire – the Severance Benefit and the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan. Although the owners are not contributing to those plans in 2010, those benefits will most likely be included and retroactive in any new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
So another year goes by without a rookie wage scale. How do you as a former player feel about this?
The NFL and NFLPA have talked about using the savings from a rookie wage scale to increase pre-1993 player pensions by as much as $100 million – but neither of them have talked about what the actual increase in pensions would be for the pre-1993 vested players. Would they simply increase the benefit credit from $255 per credited season to a benefit amount more like what the current players are getting – which is $470 per credited season, or would they increase all player pensions by – let’s say – $1,000 or $2,000 more a month. That would certainly help the guys that took the Early Retirement Benefit and the Social Security Option.
Under the rookie salary proposal, they have also talked about giving $100 Million of the savings to veteran players, but to my knowledge, no one has developed or agreed to a formula for distributing that money to vets.
The first thing they need to agree on, is the definition of a veteran player (3 years, 4 years, 8 years?) They already have a formula for distributing over $100 million annually via the PBP – Performance Based Pay Plan, so how hard could it be to create a Veteran Based Pay Plan? It should be based on years of service and percentage of time played in games during the season.
I find it difficult to believe that the NFL and the NFLPA cannot come to some type of agreement on a rookie wage scale. DeMaurice Smith said he would consider it if the NFL would agree to reduce the length of all rookie contracts down to 4 years and allow them unrestricted free agency. The owners will not go for that because any savings that might accrue from the rookie wage scale would quickly be eaten up by rookie players that hit the free market sooner.
The real impact of the rookie wage scale would undoubtedly be felt by the rookies and the player agents. I like to see players get paid what they’re worth, but how much is enough, or should there be no limit on what a rookie can make?
Most of the rookie wage scale savings will obviously come from the first round draft picks, but even if a wage scale is set, all 32 of the players selected in next years draft will still be multi-millionaires before they set one foot on an NFL field.
If a rookie wage scale is agreed to in a new CBA, then the two hundred million proposed for retired player pensions and veteran players could be taken out of the first rounders “guaranteed money”. If they used the 2010 first round rookie allocation as a baseline for next years draft, it would still leave over $328 million for 32 players to divide among themselves!
By adopting a rookie wage scale, the active players could go a long way in assisting the the pioneers of professional football and the veteran players that have already proven themselves in the NFL.