Word came out Wednesday that the NFL and NFLPA had agreed to a modified rookie wage scale. This had been billed as one of the minor points, but an agreement on any point at this juncture is a sign of progress. The owner’s had pitched a maximum deal for incoming rookies of $19 million with $6 million guaranteed, but reportedly backed off these figures. No word on what the final figures are or what the NFLPA suggested.
The main changes are as follows. First round picks will be able to be signed to a maximum length deal of four years. This is down from the five or six year deals we’ve seen in the past. Second round picks and later can be signed to a max length deal of three years, with the fourth year being a restricted free agency year, similar to what we see now. The big coup for the union is that younger, better players hit the market sooner increasing the payout for those players who succeed.
The story broke from Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports which he re-confirmed after differing opinions from unnamed sources disputed that an agreement had been made.
Though this would seem to indicate good news, the day was most likely an overall failure. Demaurice Smith, head of the NFLPA, went on record as saying that the players do not want an 18 game season, nor had the NFL ever made an official proposal for such a season.
This is troubling for a few reasons. Smith has now backed himself into a corner with this statement. To back off of it and allow an 18 game season to happen will surely ruffle the feathers of some players. It also puts the NFL in a tough spot as Goodell has done nothing but talk about an 18 game season. His (Goodell) vision included going from 4 to 2 preseason games and from 16 to 18 regular season games. This has been one of the key issues, and the two sides seem as far off on this as they do on revenue sharing.
The deadline from the second extension ends Friday evening. Until then, we wait for word that a new deal has been struck, a new extension has been granted or that the NFL is locking out the players.