Remind me again why NFL rookies need player representation?

My wife and I recently debated over the need for NFL rookies hiring “player representation”.  She likened it to a first time home buyer facing the fears and uncertainty of plopping down 20% of the purchase price and wading through page after page of realtor gobbledygook.  I must disclose that my wife is a realtor herself and gobbledygook is half our income.

She also says I have a tendency to be disagreeable and so as not to disappoint her, “Why is it again that NFL rookies need player representation?”

Somewhere in the annals of history

The original CBA tried to account for spending on rookie salaries through a limited “rookie pool” of CAP dollars allocated to each team’s entering class.  Somewhere in the early history of contract negotiations, guaranteed “option bonuses”, “roster bonuses”, “1-Time Bonuses”, “P5 Guarantees” and easily attainable base salary “escalators” put the collegiate accomplishments of a 21 or 22-year-old NFL “up and comer”, on par with that of an eight year, four time Pro Bowl vet.   The Genie was out of the bottle.

“Oh, the humanity!”

With an out of control industry of pre-draft media hype and prognostication, flash-in-the-pan players were being catapulted to the top of the first round in various “expert” publications and mock draft predictions, and artificially (or in reality) forcing those at the top of the annual selection process to create instant millionaires.  What is 3% of $72,000,000?

Incensed media, fans and veteran players (not to mention NFL owners) have been “hell bent” on correcting this perceived injustice.  Why has it taken up to this point to make any significant headway fixing this so-called “problem”?  Anyone figured out 3% of $72,000,000 yet?

“I told him we’ve already got one”

Those that follow the NFL have for years been clamoring for a “slotted” rookie wage scale that would pay entering players based on their selection position and transfer the real dollars to those that had earned them, veteran players.  By and large that’s exactly what the NFL has had, a “slotted” system.  Most clubs would make an initial offer (from about the middle of the 2nd round down) that was a minimal percentage increase off of last year’s same position.  This number more or less equated to the annual percentage increase in the overall “rookie pool”.

Agents would politely say “no thanks” and wait for surrounding deals to come in as the summer progressed and training camps approached.  Then “standardized” deals would begin to “slot” right into place with only tidbits of language haggling or contract “splits” delaying the process.  The top of the draft is where real player representation becomes an issue.  4 to 6 percent increases jump from 15 and upwards of 30+ percent!  .03 X $72,000,000 = ?

Novel approach?

The final wisps of smoke appear to be “corked up” with the new agreement.  But who will guide the young and impressionable through all the gobbledygook?  Who will provide Combine training prep at a remote location, provide for lines of credit and make unwarranted promises of draft day success?

There are close to 1600 agents certified for player representation listed in the annual Contract Advisors Directory.  Realistically 12 control the really big money in the industry, well maybe 20.

Why not make rookies wait on player representation until after their first contract is terminated or expires?  The NFLPA is full of gobbledygook readers.  The NCAA would have one less headache to deal with and college coaches would be doing back flips over job security.   Not to mention the money a player might save. Say 3% of “whatever” million?

Guess what?  We finally do…..

What the NFL and NFLPA refused to call a “rookie wage scale” is exactly just that.  The new CBA has in effect given clubs no room for “wiggle” and agents “no words for the wise”.  Based on a preexisting rookie allocation for every selection pick in the draft, clubs were able to formulate the maximum signing bonus and base salaries for a four-year contract.

Yearly percentage increases will simply be calculated from one year to the next.  Agents played little to no role in the negotiation process this year because there was literally nothing to negotiate.  Signings were swift and holdouts nonexistent.  Furthermore, the commission was lowered to 2%.  Even that is FREE money.

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