During their negotiations with the NFL towards a new collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA made "major concessions" on a rookie wage scale, Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reported on Thursday.
Andrew Brandt, a former NFL executive, player agent and current president of the National Football Post, tweeted that the NFLPA's proposal called for four-year contracts for players in rounds 1-3, with remaining players signing three-year contracts.
The union included a cap on incentives, with the savings from rookie contacts passed along to veterans.
The owner's proposal, which Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy shed some light on the Washington Post in December, would require first-round picks to sign five-year contracts, with quarterbacks signing six-year agreements, and players in rounds 2-7 signing four-year deals.
Brandt adds that, under the NFL proposal, the 9th overall pick in the draft would sign a five-year, $8.6 million contract. In the union's proposal, that player would make $18 million over four seasons.
Last year's 9th pick, Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller, signed a five-year, $24.3 million contract that included $20 million in guarantees.
The NFL also seeks to increase the numbers of years before rookie contracts can be renegotiated. Under the current agreement, both sides have to wait until after year two to renegotiate the contract. The owners want that to be after Year 3.
When the average career length is 3.6 years, having to wait until you're 8 games away from entering the bonus round to get a second contract hardly seems fair in a salary system geared to make players "earn it" before signing big-money contracts.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post adds that owner's proposal seeks to reduce the minimum base salaries for rookies to 2007 levels.
Even though one presently exists, a rookie wage scale is one of the few issues both the NFL and NFLPA agree need to be addressed in the collective bargaining agreement. There's little doubt that the rookies will be sacrificed, but in exchange for abolishing what I call the "Loser's Tax", those picks in the Top 15 where all of the funny money in rookie contracts is, they should at least be given the opportunity to test the open market before entering their fourth season.