Union memo calls league's rookie-pay proposal overly restrictive
By Mark Maske
UPDATED (5:58 p.m.)...
The NFL Players Association has called a recent proposal by the league for a rookie wage scale overly restrictive.
In a memo, dated Jan. 26, from DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players' union, to players on the union's executive committee and board of player representatives, the union characterized the league's proposal as an attempt to improperly curb the salaries of NFL veterans with up to five seasons of experience in addition to rookies.
Smith wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, that "the NFL finally gave us a response to the rookie proposal that the union made late last November. There is little 'new' in this proposal, and what is new mostly makes the proposal worse not only for rookies, but for veteran players with three to five years in the league--the core of our membership."
Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said in a written statement: "Despite the inaccurate characterizations of [Wednesday's bargaining] meeting, out of respect to the collective bargaining process and our negotiating partner, we are going to continue to conduct negotiations with the union in private and not engage in a point-counterpoint on the specifics of either side's proposals or the meeting process. Instead, we will work as hard as possible to reach a fair agreement by March 4. We are fully focused on that goal."
According to Smith's memo, the league's proposal for a rookie wage scale calls for players selected in the opening round of the NFL draft to sign five-year contracts and players drafted in other rounds to sign four-year contracts. There would be no individual contract negotiations, according to the memo. Players would receive contracts based on their draft positions and those contracts could not be renegotiated or extended for at least three years, according to the memo.
The memo calls the wage scale "rigid" and says it would "destroy the benefits of free agency for most veteran players."
Under the league's proposal, according to the union's memo, the rookie minimum salary would be set at $285,000 in 2011, $375,000 in 2012, $460,000 in 2013 and $545,000 in 2013.
The amount of bonus money in contracts also would be set by the rookie wage scale under the league's proposal, according to the memo. The memo says that a defensive tackle taken with the ninth overall selection in this year's draft would receive a five-year contract worth $8.6 million, provided that he reaches certain playing-time benchmarks in the deal. According to the memo, the same player would receive $18 million over four seasons under the union's proposal for a rookie wage scale, if the player reaches a playing-time benchmark.
The union has proposed a rookie wage scale that would, according to the memo, guarantee the teams $200 million in savings on rookies and give that money to veteran players and younger players who outperform their contracts. The union's proposal also would, in conjunction with other proposals by the players, provide $100 million to the pensions of retired players, according to the memo.
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