Blog Entry

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

Posted on: July 28, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 11:15 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

There's been plenty of action in free agency thus far (don't forget to follow it all in our live, updating Experience and with our 2011 NFL Free Agency Tracker!), but it also warrants mentioning that there have been a good number of first-round draft picks signed by various teams over the past few days.

Interestingly, many of these players who are signing have received fully guaranteed contracts, something you don't typically see with rookies, even though the total contracts, because of the new rookie wage system, are coming in lower than previous years.

For instance, the Cowboys signed Tyson Smith, their top pick, likely right tackle for 2011 and eventual successor to Doug Free, to a four-year, $12.5 million deal which is entirely guaranteed. By contrast, C.J. Spiller, taken in the same spot last season by the Bills, received a five-year, $25 million deal with $20.5 million guaranteed.

The Bengals signed Georgia wideout A.J. Green to a four-year, $19.6 million deal, all of which is also guaranteed, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy. (Trent Williams, by contrast, got $60 million with $36.5 guaranteed out of the No. 4 slot from the Redskins in 2010.)

The 49ers reported via Twitter that they've signed all their draft picks, including second-round quarterback Colin Kaepernick (four-year deal) and first-round defensive end Aldon Smith. Financials haven't been put out yet.

The same goes for the Buccaneers, who signed first- and second-round picks Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers (deets on the monies aren't out yet last I checked).

In Denver, Von Miller is "expected" to sign a four-year, $21-million deal with the Broncos soon. He probably would have seen up to $50 million more (not all guaranteed, of course) under the old rookie salary system. The ironic part? He was a named plaintiff on the Brady v. NFL lawsuit. It's worth noting that Miller's not sweating losing any pile of money and says he "plans on getting three, four, five contracts."

[(UPDATED 4:47 p.m. ET): John Elway confirms the team has agreed to terms with Miller. Wrote Elway on his Twitter feed: "Can't wait to get him on the field."]

The final thing to remember as the first-year player contracts start to come in? There's a fifth-year team option built into these four-year deals, and that deal must be picked up by the end of the third year or else the amount owed balloons to an average of the top-10 salaries at the position.

If a player performs well in his first three seasons then, he stands to either get locked for a fifth year or find himself inked to a new contract sooner than he expected.

Everything's not all roses, though. Agent Jack Bechta writes at the National Football Post that some teams are utilizing dollars for later-round picks and allocating them towards first rounders. It's not happening often, at least right now, but Bechta cites it as a "disturbing trend" because it's something that could potentially create a false inflation system for first-round picks as agents try to get more money than the player drafted the previous year.

There's not telling how often that will happen going forward, but it's still a bit concerning as the rookies current wages are pushed back because of the new CBA.

On the bright side, if shifting salaries does happen, it's a lot less likely that JaMarcus Russell remains the biggest NFL Draft bust forever. So there's that.

UPDATED 7:48 p.m. ET: The Jaguars have announced that No. 10 overall pick, QB Blaine Gabbert, has signed his contract.

UPDATED 11:14 p.m. ET: No. 13 pick Nick Fairley has signed a four-year deal worth about $10 million with the Lions.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 2, 2012 1:12 am
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Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 3:18 am
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Since: Jul 28, 2011
Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:30 am
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Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: July 28, 2011 10:16 pm

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

"For the NFL you have to labor for free for 4 years of college"?????

So, what do you consider tuition, room and board to be?? The cost of all that, they get some pretty damn good pay while in college. And when you look at the other professions you listed, they don`t have to have the mental toughness as you do in  the NFL. An eighteen year old wouldn`t last a year in the NFL, when someone like Ray Lewis gets to playing with their mind.

I think the league needed to have a cap for rookies along time ago. Just look at JaMarcus Russell... $32,000,000, and never had to prove he was worth it. And, of course, never did prove he was worth, even a nickel.

Since: Sep 25, 2009
Posted on: July 28, 2011 8:05 pm

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

It's probably always been the case, but if you are a star athlete with multiple avenues of success, football is going to be below baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and boxing, as those all generally pay you more quicker.  For the NFL you have to labor for free for 4 years for a college, and now there will be rookie wage scales too.  Those contracts will lock you in cheap for a further 5 years.  By the time you can see your first big contract, you're already 27-28 years old.  If you are an RB, you won't even ever see that contract.

This will probably lead to the reduction in talent.  I don't think this will happen anytime soon, but in about 5-6 years we'll see if there is any effect.

Since: Aug 23, 2010
Posted on: July 28, 2011 7:53 pm

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

What is hard to understand is why you would spend all of this money on a rookie and kick a veteran to the curb.  The way is should be is if you were drafted in this part of the round you get this amount of money. If you perform better than expected you get a better contract and if you become a great player you get the big bucks.  The NFL had this backwards for years thank god they finally fixed it.Cool

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: July 28, 2011 5:31 pm

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

I couldn't agree more.  Rookies who never played a down were getting so much to the point where if they didn't pan out they would hold franchises back.  It got to the point where it was pretty common for teams to want to trade out of a high pick so they could minimize their risk.  Well done NFL.

Since: Jan 19, 2007
Posted on: July 28, 2011 3:04 pm

2011 NFL Draft rookie contracts coming in

This is what we were all hoping for. Less total contract value. Less guaranteed money. Now the rookies have to actually play some NFL ball before they can cash in on the really big payday. This lets teams move more of the payroll to signing free agents or extending contracts for proven performers.

Of course, the new batch of rookies signing now can't complain too much - these guys mentioned in the story are already multi-millionaires the day they sign the deal, and before they take a snap in a real game. Can't wait to see the first troll come on and call these new rookie contracts "Slave wages."

On the flipside, how good must last year's rookie class be feeling knowing they just lsipped in before the rookie contract floodgates closed.

Bradford's $86 mil and $50 mil guaranteed
Suh's $68 mil and $40 mil guaranteed
Even the #29 draft pick last year signed a $12.99 mil contract with $7.12 guaranteed.
You have to get to #30 before the rookie contract dips below $10 mil.

It's a new world, folks. I love it!

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