Goodell: New Rookie Wage Scale ‘Critical’

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to reward players after they succeed on the field.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

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While the Ravens’ recent draft picks are joining their NFL brethren at the annual Rookie Symposium, at least they know that their first contracts won’t be gauged by a tapered wage scale.

But that is likely to come in the future.

With the current Collective Bargaining Agreement set to expire in March of 2011, one of the biggest issues on the table is rookie salaries.

“I think a new rookie compensation system is critical,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said from San Diego, according to  ”I think it’s important that we have a system that is designed to reward players who succeed on the NFL field. And when a player is paid a lot of money and doesn’t make it in the NFL, and that money leaves the system, that’s not good for anybody.

“So I think we need to reward performance on the field.”

As the Ravens – and other teams around the league – continue to sign their draft picks, the salaries can reach astronomical highs once you get into the opening rounds.

Famously, former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was awarded a $61 million deal as a former first-overall selection, with $32 guaranteed. At the time, it was the richest rookie contract in NFL history.

Four years later, Russell is out of football and a poster boy for the rookie wage scale.

Last year’s first-overall pick – Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford – was awarded a six-year, $72 million contract ($42 million guaranteed), but seems to be a keeper.

The Ravens currently have three of their seven draft picks signed (additionally, Ramon Harewood reportedly signed Monday), with the top two selections, Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody, still not done.  Both Kindle and Cody have expressed their preference to avoid a holdout, which is unlikely anyway considering their second-round status and the uncapped year.

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