The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Rookie Cap Talks Likely

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Expect the contract given to Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford by the Detroit Lions to renew calls by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the sport's franchise owners for a more restrictive rookie wage scale to be implemented as part of the next labor deal.

Stafford agreed Friday night to a six-year contract with the Lions with, according to a source, $41.7 million in guaranteed money and a maximum total value of $78 million, including possible incentives. The Lions are to make Stafford the top overall selection in today's NFL draft.

It's the most guaranteed money in a rookie contract in NFL history, although there are some indications that all of that money isn't fully guaranteed and Stafford has to participate in a certain percentage of the Lions' offensive plays to receive the full amount.

Even so, Goodell and some owners have made implementing a rookie wage scale a point of emphasis for the upcoming labor negotiations with the players' union, arguing that the biggest contracts should go to proven veteran players rather than untested rookies.

The union's late executive director, Gene Upshaw, used to oppose such a measure, saying that the large contracts for rookies set financial precedents that ended up benefiting veterans.

The current executive director of the union, DeMaurice Smith, didn't seem particularly eager, either, during a radio interview Friday about being part of the implementation of a rookie wage scale.

"I start with bedrock principles and the bedrock principles that our guys remind me of every day [is] they don't sign rookies' checks," Smith told Sirius satellite radio, according to a transcript provided by Sirius. "They don't make a decision on how much they are going to pay [rookies]. The day we start signing checks, maybe that's the day that we start having a discussion about rookie [salary] caps. But I don't think we're there yet.

"And it seems to me that for these men who spend a lot of time in those draft rooms trying to figure out who to pick and what to pay them, they do a fantastic job. But we're not a part of that, and I don't think we should be a part of that."

The NFL already has a rookie salary cap, essentially a cap within each team's overall salary cap limiting the cap values of the contracts given to that club's rookies.

By Mark Maske  |  April 25, 2009; 10:56 AM ET  | Category:  Detriot Lions , Draft , Mark Maske Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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