Certainly makes splitting up the pie much easier

When the veteran NFL players and owners sat down to figure out how to best break up the $9 billion pie (which is all the lockout was about, regardless of what kind of White Hat/Black Hat/Heroes/Villains story the media tells), it was easy to see what group of essentially unrepresented stakeholders would lose: rookies. Both veterans and owners thought the rookies were making too much, and the representatives for the rookies said — wait, nevermind, there were no representatives for the rookies. So of course the result is things like this:

Imagine the bling on Olindo Mare

Carolina instead gave [kicker Olindo] Mare a four-year, $12 million dollar offer. That happened not because Mare went back on his word, but in the intervening months, the NFL veterans decided to rob Cam Newton to pay Olindo Mare. The most important (and player-friendly) aspect of the new CBA was the salary floor, requiring teams like Carolina to spend tens of millions of dollars. Only not on rookies.

. . . [B]etween Mare, Williams, Anderson and Johnson, Carolina has opened the door to spend $155 million dollars on three players who were on the team last year and a kicker. But hope and optimism for the Panthers in 2011 and beyond mainly rests on the drafting of Auburn star Cam Newton. And what will Carolina pay the young quarterback? Roughly 22 million dollars over four seasons, with a team-option for a fifth year.

That’s right: over the next four years, Carolina will pay their 38-year-old placekicker 12 million dollars and their franchise savior 22 million dollars. Newton’s contract looks even worse when you consider that Carolina can hold him for a fifth season, making it difficult for players to renegotiate until after they’ve completed three seasons.

Right. And, as Chase explains, this is not just limited to Carolina, but instead was out of design:

And, of course, this is not simply a Cam Newton diatribe. The Bengals signed fourth overall pick A.J. Green to a four-year deal worth $19.6 million, with a team option to extend the deal to a fifth year. Sidney Rice just signed a deal for $41 million over five years, Santonio Holmes went for $50 million over the same span, and Santana Moss just got $15 million over three years from the Redskins. Only one of those contracts looks like a steal. Even the Bengals wouldn’t be silly enough to trade Green for Moss, yet Moss’s contract is actually more player-friendly than Green’s! Try getting someone in your dynasty league to trade A.J. Green for Santana Moss, and see how that goes. Green isn’t as proven as Holmes, but his contract is significantly less attractive. On the open market, I suspect he’d sign for a bit more than the megadeal Rice just landed.

. . . Within five minutes of publishing this article, Kevin Kolb’s new contract with the Arizona Cardinals was announced. Five years, $63.5 million. Kolb will be getting double Cam Newton money. Because he’s a proven veteran, after all.

  • Jo

    Doesn’t it make sense to reward a veteran more than an unproven rookie whose value is inflated by media hype?

  • Anonymous

    If you stack your question that way, sure, but remember that Carolina willingly chose Cam Newton number one; no one forced them to, certainly not the “media.” And if you don’t like the Cam example, it’ll be Andrew Luck next year who is making kicker salary as the number one overall pick.

  • Guest

    Chris–Sorry, but I have to say this. Over the past couple years this blog has descended into a pattern of ripping off others. The posts are of one of two types.

    One just a giant block quote from other sites, well beyond fair use. Whether you link or not, you shouldn’t be reposting huge swaths of others’ articles. Just post the link and send the clicks to the site that did the hard, creative work.

    The second is thinly a veiled ripoff of Tyler Cowen. “Do read the whole thing.” “Self-recommending” etc.

    One more personal observation. I can’t stand the psuedo-intellectual air that you’ve adopted lately.

  • Jo

    I hear ya. I guess I’ve always been uncomfortable with escalating rookie salaries, considering the number of busts we witness.

  • This reply is just non-nonsensical.  Making nearly twice as much as a high-paid kicker is not “kicker salary”.  And they may not have been forced to draft Newton, but they were forced to receive the #1 overall pick.

  • Marshall

    Rookies have gotten too much for too long.  It is about time the the owners and the veterans put a stop to it.  Sorry, no sympathy.  Besides, it is only a matter of time the truth comes out and we find out that Cam did make money in college.  I’m fine with Olindo Mare making more money than Cam Newton because he is a proven guy.  Cam is not.  Cam should be carrying helmets and getting hazed and being thankful for it.   I will sleep better tonight knowing that Olindo Mare makes more money than Cam Newton.  Thanks!

  • GoDawg1023

    I agree with Marshall, rookies have gotten too much for for far too long.  Now they have to earn the next contract, too.  

  • Anonymous


    This was a very kind comment. It’s a blog — I try to curate good stuff and direct eyeballs to it on this site and by linking back. I freely admit that I’d prefer to write nothing but long, original only articles but I don’t have as much free time these days. (And I’ve been working on some longer projects as well.) I’ve never gotten a complaint from anyone I’ve block quoted and I do try to send the content there. Moreover, I’ve studied the analytics and people click more on the links when they have read a blurb of the article. In any event, I’ve got several projects in the works for hopefully some longer more in depth articles. Those posts are the reason I have the blog; the rest is just me trying to pass along interesting stuff. If you don’t like it don’t read it. I’m not in the business of trying to be some HuffPo aggregator to drum up eyeballs.

    I don’t really know what the second critique is about. Marginal Revolution is a very good site which I frequently read and link to; I’m sure I’ve absorbed some of their blogging habits. If I read your argument right, your first critique is that I include too much of an article and the second is that I refer people back to the article?

    Anyway, thanks for reading. Guest, I think you and I can agree on one thing: I would prefer to be writing long, in-depth original pieces. But I see nothing wrong with linking to quality stuff, like what Chase wrote. They call it the “web” for a reason.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    Seems to me this is fairly typical union stuff — high premium on seniority based, in large part, on the fact that the most senior members of the union are the ones doing the negotiating. For instance, the face of the players has largely been Drew Brees. Now, I love Drew Brees in a way that it’s not necessarily healthy for a man to love another man, but I have to question that choice. It’s not Drew Brees who the union needs to protect, it’s the minimum wage rookies who are selling out their bodies for a 2 year career. Drew Brees, and those like him, are set.

    On a related topic, I was disappointed to see that they didn’t expand the roster limit. This is another subtle way to benefit established veterans at the expense of rookies and marginal players. By artificially limiting the supply of roster spots, each player gets a slightly bigger piece of that pie. The losers are the rookies who get cut after the last preseason game. There’s no real need for this artificial limit other than to protect the players who already have spots from increased competition. On a completely unrelated note, good luck to any readers who may have been taking the bar exam this week!

  • Kyle

    To be clear, the argument here is that it’s the rookies fault that teams spend their money inappropriately?

    Also, many of these supposedly “overpaid” rookies are now being overpaid as veterans under the new CBA.

  • hturner3280

    Chris, I’d just like to say that I love the blog and I enjoy the links to other sites because it allows me to read things that I probably otherwise wouldn’t.  Of course, I love the original x’s and o’s pieces, but I realize that you have other things going on like the rest of us.

    On another note, could you please provide any links to x’s and o’s, schemes, drills, etc. that are posted on any of the SB Nation blogs.  Most of them tend to have fan-friendly, newsy articles, but few that focus on the things that would interest coaches.  If you find anything on Corn Nation, Roll Bama Roll, etc. please pass them along if you don’t mind.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    Chris’s post says: “[dividing the money] is all the lockout was about, regardless of what kind of White Hat/Black Hat/Heroes/Villains story the media tells.”

     Yet lots of folks obviously do believe that it is about heroes and villains. Which I can get. What I can’t get is deciding Mare is a hero because he’s 38 and Newton is a villain because he’s 22. I suspect rookies get undue flak because both sides – owners and NFLPA members – benefit from making them into the bad guys. People figure if the players and owners are enemies, but they agree on something, it must be true.

  • tractor

    Wow! No need to jump to defend Chris, he’s a big boy and it’s his show here so he can obviously do what he wants. I really just want to chime in on your comment Guest where you complain about not being able to stand the “psuedo-intellectual air.” 
    Maybe, just maybe, there are certain individuals in this world who are actually gifted between the ears. Maybe it’s not “psuedo” anything here. Maybe it’s actually the real McCoy intelligence…

    Thank you Chris for presenting something to the world that is not dumbed down to the omni-present 6th grade level. Seriously, thank you!

  • Marshall

    Well, it isn’t wasn’t clear.  Perhaps, Cam is a bad example.  I would agree that the Panthers chose him freely.  But, some might also agree, that they jumped the shark.  Time will only tell. 
    Also, it was about that the boot was put down on the rookies… or should I say Agents who make bank off the rookies who haven’t played a down in the NFL.  It should be about merit.  Cam Newton had one of the biggest comebacks in one of the biggest games of the year ever but his reward should have been an education and he should have to follow the rules like everyone else.  He played 1 year… he was smart to go to the NFL.  He was the first pick… I cannot deny him that either.  But rookies are overhyped and overpaid… it was about time someone drew a line in the sand.  The NFL had to do the right thing here and they did.   
    I root for every guy to make the team – it doesn’t work out that way, I know.  But I’m not going to root for some guy who has never played a down in the NFL, who hasn’t even earned the right to carry Jerry Rice’s or whoever’s shoulder pads… to make more money than the guys at his position that are currently above him in the depth chart.  It should be about Merit, Respect, not money.  But… It is all in the game, yo!

  • Marshall

    rob Cam Newton?  Don’t make me laugh.  Olindo Mare (undrafted) has two Pro Bowl selections.  Cam Newton has Zero. 

  • Misterandrewlee

    I’d rather Olindo Mare make $12 mil than Jamarcus Russell make $68 mil

  • r s

    They could’ve let the clock run out. So,they were forced to receive it but they were not forced to use it!

  • Anonymous

    Professional athletes, in general, seem to want to be paid based on what they might do in the future or what they have done in the past, depending on which is more favorable at the time. (In the absence of a rookie wage scale, this typically means rookies expecting contracts based solely on potential and veterans expecting contracts based solely on past performance.)

    While I appreciate their desire to make as much as they can as quickly as they can before their careers come to a sudden end, I don’t really have much sympathy for their position. There are a lot of us who are non-athletes who as “rookies” are paid based on past performance, and as “veterans” are paid based on something relating to potential. (Assuming we’re even in a situation to be paid at all.)

    With that in mind, knowing that this is a zero-sum game, I don’t have a problem with highly-touted rookies being asked to perform at the professional level prior to making top-dollar contracts. After all, we’re the ones that are ultimately paying these salaries. Owners don’t cut into their profits when their costs increase – everything is passed along to us.

  • Matt T.

    It wasn’t as publicized, but I believe there was a salary floor in the last CBA also.

  • Gregatron

    I agree for the most part that rookies have gotten paid too much, but my main qualm is that many running backs only last 4-5 years. Even some of the greats… look at Terrell Davis. He would have been kind of screwed by this deal (unless I am missing something). 

  • Nate

    I have no problems with rookies making less than veterans. Under the old system, teams picking early were pretty much screwed because the salaries for the high draft picks ate up all their cap room. Olindo Mare will score more points this year than Newton so he should make more money. I have zero sympathy for pro football players. No one is forcing them to play pro football. If they don’t like the wage scale they can go get a regular job. Every player picked in 1st round will make more in 4 years than most of us will make in the next 20.

  • Patrick M.

    Looks like most commenters agree with this. As do I… it reminds me of basketball. My beloved Derrick Rose is making ~$4M a year going into the last year of his rookie deal, whereas mediocre starters (J.J. Reddick – ~$7M/yr I think) make about twice that. Rose will be in position for a max contract next year since he has lived up to his billing.

    As a result, picks at the top of the first round are very valuable, while later 1st round picks aren’t worth a whole lot. This is the opposite of the NFL (prior to this year) where teams couldn’t trade out of the top picks because those players instantly become the highest-paid at their respective positions.

  • NickUM

    One thing nobody has brought up here yet is how this rookie wage scale impacts team construction.  The value of high 1st round draft picks has increased greatly with the new CBA.  The ability to lock in a top flight player in a cost-controlled manner for 5 years is invaluable.

    Previously, rebuilding teams would be on the hook for 20, 30 or 40 million in guaranteed money even if the guy never played a down.  The high draft pick risk is substantially mitigated now from a salary perspective, though its still present from a opportunity cost perspective.

    Look for teams to begin increasingly hoarding draft picks rather than trading them for established vets.  The contract value has shifted greatly towards the rooks much as in the NBA where rookie deals are typically the highest in bang for the buck