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The unintended consequences of a rookie salary cap

Something that doesn't seem to get much attention is the ripple effect the rookie salary cap will have on how teams handle personnel decisions.

The rookie salary cap changes the value of high first round picks as they are no longer extremely costly to the team. The "draft value chart" that was so commonly used by teams to assess the "fairness" of trades involving draft picks should be reformulated to account for this change. Likewise, teams that used to frequently trade down out of higher first round picks to accumulate lower, but more "cost-efficient" picks (i.e. Patriots) may need to change their strategy.

Perhaps one unintentional "victim" of the rookie salary cap are blue-chip running backs, whose careers are generally much shorter by virtue of the physical abuse they absorb as part of their position.

Can anyone think of any other unintended or interesting consequences of the rookie salary cap?
how does it change value?

also, I do not think teams traded down to acquire picks because they were cost efficient. Pats continued to trade down because they believed there was depth in later rounds and could develop players.
It changes value because like with most anything in life there is a cost to something valuable. Prior to the rookie salary cap, high 1st round picks would cost a lot more due to the higher salaries dished out to these players (i.e. Sam Bradford). It costs a team more to draft and keep a player like Bradford than it would be for a team to draft and keep a 1st overall pick after the rookie salary cap (i.e. Andrew Luck/RGIII). The money that the Colts or the Redskins will "save" by not having to pay as much to Luck or Griffin can instead be used somewhere else. So in essence, because the "cost" of a 1st overall pick is not as pricey as it used to be, it has become inherently more "valuable" to a team and should be worth more in regards to trades and such.

Regarding a team like the Patriots, I agree that they overall did a better job than the average team in evaluating talent (even in the later rounds) -- that's not what I'm referring to in my original post. What I am referring to is that they also had the ability to pick good players in the later first/second rounds whose abilities were not significantly worse than the blue-chip high first rounders, but much cheaper to pick and maintain them.
[ Edited by Otohns on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:33 PM ]
  • sfout
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Originally posted by Otohns:
It changes value because like with most anything in life there is a cost to something valuable. Prior to the rookie salary cap, high 1st round picks would cost a lot more due to the higher salaries dished out to these players (i.e. Sam Bradford). It costs a team more to draft and keep a player like Bradford than it would be for a team to draft and keep a 1st overall pick after the rookie salary cap (i.e. Andrew Luck/RGIII). The money that the Colts or the Redskins will "save" by not having to pay as much to Luck or Griffin can instead be used somewhere else.

Regarding a team like the Patriots, the "depth" you speak of is essentially referring to "value." Yes, there was "depth" in those later round picks, but the inherent value was due to the fact that good players could be picked and maintained at less cost to the organization. I agree that the Patriots overall did a better job than the average team in evaluating talent (even in the later rounds) -- that's not what I'm referring to in my original post. What I am referring to is that they also had the ability to pick good players in the later first/second rounds whose abilities were not significantly worse than the blue-chip high first rounders, but much cheaper to pick and maintain them.

actually the pats trade back because the recognize that typically a 2nd rounder is rarely different from a mid to late 1st round talent and they'd rather take the chance on 1 or all of the picks they acquire developing rather then hoping the 1 1st rounder pans out. It has little to nothing to do with cost.

but yes many more top picks that aren't immediately producing or showing promise will now be kicked to the curb a lot quicker then in years past. Players like Blaine Gabbert will be gone with 1-2 more years if they dont show that they will be a capable player.

Cam Newton's #1 overal deal is 4 year $20M deal that is fully guaranteed compared to Sam Bradford's 6 year $78M w/ 50 of it guaranteed.
2/5's the cost for a #1 overall pick???? Yes please.
Originally posted by sfout:
actually the pats trade back because the recognize that typically a 2nd rounder is rarely different from a mid to late 1st round talent and they'd rather take the chance on 1 or all of the picks they acquire developing rather then hoping the 1 1st rounder pans out. It has little to nothing to do with cost.

but yes many more top picks that aren't immediately producing or showing promise will now be kicked to the curb a lot quicker then in years past. Players like Blaine Gabbert will be gone with 1-2 more years if they dont show that they will be a capable player.

Cam Newton's #1 overal deal is 4 year $20M deal that is fully guaranteed compared to Sam Bradford's 6 year $78M w/ 50 of it guaranteed.
2/5's the cost for a #1 overall pick???? Yes please.

You're right. In second thought, the Patriots may not have been the best example for me to use for a team that would trade down. Maybe a better example would have been the 49ers in the year they selected Alex Smith with the 1st overall pick. It was considered a relatively poor draft class, and instead of trading down to avoid having to pay a high salary for Alex Smith, they picked him and had to sign him for a relatively "value-poor" salary (which was since restructured).

While I agree that poorly proceeding high 1st round picks are always at risk of getting kicked to the curb is a reality, Gabbert may not have been the best example because had he been selected PRIOR to the rookie salary cap, it would be even more likely for him to be kicked to the curb if he doesn't produce.
  • rrsis
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The money that the Colts or the Redskins will "save" by not having to pay as much to Luck or Griffin can instead be used somewhere else.
  • sfout
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Originally posted by Otohns:
Originally posted by sfout:
actually the pats trade back because the recognize that typically a 2nd rounder is rarely different from a mid to late 1st round talent and they'd rather take the chance on 1 or all of the picks they acquire developing rather then hoping the 1 1st rounder pans out. It has little to nothing to do with cost.

but yes many more top picks that aren't immediately producing or showing promise will now be kicked to the curb a lot quicker then in years past. Players like Blaine Gabbert will be gone with 1-2 more years if they dont show that they will be a capable player.

Cam Newton's #1 overal deal is 4 year $20M deal that is fully guaranteed compared to Sam Bradford's 6 year $78M w/ 50 of it guaranteed.
2/5's the cost for a #1 overall pick???? Yes please.

You're right. In second thought, the Patriots may not have been the best example for me to use for a team that would trade down. Maybe a better example would have been the 49ers in the year they selected Alex Smith with the 1st overall pick. It was considered a relatively poor draft class, and instead of trading down to avoid having to pay a high salary for Alex Smith, they picked him and had to sign him for a relatively "value-poor" salary (which was since restructured).

While I agree that poorly proceeding high 1st round picks are always at risk of getting kicked to the curb is a reality, Gabbert may not have been the best example because had he been selected PRIOR to the rookie salary cap, it would be even more likely for him to be kicked to the curb if he doesn't produce.


No he wasn't. The cap was instituted for this past draft, thats how Newton's deal is so massively low compared to Bradford's.

That's a contract for the 11th overall player from the 2011 draft
Blaine Gabbert Quarterback 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $12 million contract. The deal is fully guaranteed, including a $7.228 million signing bonus. 2012: $920,529, 2013: $1,466,058, 2014: $2,011,587, 2015: Free Agent

compared to the 11th overall player from the 2010 draft
Anthony Davis Tackle 7/30/2010: Signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract. The deal contains $15.954 million guaranteed. 2012: $925,000, 2013: $1.3 million, 2014: $1,073,600, 2015: Free Agent


Thats the rookie wage scale at work for you. The way the scale protects the younger players is that all the new deals are fully guaranteed but come in at 2/5's the cost of the contracts from years past.
[ Edited by sfout on Mar 23, 2012 at 6:43 AM ]
  • Nuns
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Top picks , ie Tyson Jackson, were becoming top paid players at their positions. This leveraged larger contracts for the established players and higher franchise tag numbers. The new rookie salary structure will limit this escalation in a small way. Good consequence.
Great posts and thoughts.
Yes while the dollar figueres are lower they are lower across the board. You can't compare the two as far as overall value when it comes time to trade draft picks. Is the financial hit lower yes it is but it's still a sizable amount of money on an educated guess gamble.
Yeah the new system was put into place with the CBA. 2011 was first year. Pre-2011 was bad management on contracts. Players getting 60M, some of it like 40M was guaranteed. It was crazy with Bradford's contract.

Iupati and A.Davis' deals were decently done cap wise. Some option and some escalators.
Originally posted by sfout:
No he wasn't. The cap was instituted for this past draft, thats how Newton's deal is so massively low compared to Bradford's.

That's a contract for the 11th overall player from the 2011 draft
Blaine Gabbert Quarterback 7/28/2011: Signed a four-year, $12 million contract. The deal is fully guaranteed, including a $7.228 million signing bonus. 2012: $920,529, 2013: $1,466,058, 2014: $2,011,587, 2015: Free Agent

compared to the 11th overall player from the 2010 draft
Anthony Davis Tackle 7/30/2010: Signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract. The deal contains $15.954 million guaranteed. 2012: $925,000, 2013: $1.3 million, 2014: $1,073,600, 2015: Free Agent


Thats the rookie wage scale at work for you. The way the scale protects the younger players is that all the new deals are fully guaranteed but come in at 2/5's the cost of the contracts from years past.

I am confused by your post. I stated that Gabbert WAS drafted after the rookie cap was implemented. I also stated that HAD Gabbert been drafted prior to the implementation of the rookie cap, he would have potentially been owed a lot more money by the team. Don't most teams stipulate roster bonuses and such in their contracts that let teams waive a player to avoid having to pay certain amounts of the original contract? I thought that's why a lot of so-called "guaranteed" money is in fact not really guaranteed at all. A good example would be Alex Smith's most recent contract which has "guaranteed" salaries this year and next year but if he is waived before April 1, 2003, the his "guaranteed" amount for 2013 doesn't not have to be paid.
With the deep talent in recent drafts, higher picks have more value , especially with the salary cap friendly contracts.

Good thread!
I love the rookie wage scale. I agree with the OP it does hurt the RB position maybe more than others. But what it really does is protect franchises around the league.
The patriots aren't used to losing and so they do it a different way. But even the patriots have spent useless first round picks on players that didn't pan out the first year. Belichek runs a hard camp that distinguishes poor performers from the real ones. The new cap effects every team in a way because they obviously wont have to send big money to a top pick even if he performs like s**t. But in the end there might be more holdouts if top picks end up being top players in the NFL and demand a new contract before their first conbtract is over. If a guy plays like Brady or Aaron Rodgers then he should be payed as one of the best, rather then average players getting top contracts every year in the NFL.