NFL top picks get it while they can

DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

Sam Bradford might be a St. Louis Ram, but he's still the luckiest man alive right now.

 

The No.1 pick in this year’s draft should be the last man to receive a ludicrous amount of money without having played a single down in pro football.

 

The Rams signed their quarterback of the future to a six-year, $78-million deal on Saturday with an astounding $50 million of the money guaranteed. The deal continues a trend that has become increasingly out of hand. Year after year, the first pick of the draft – especially when a quarterback is taken – has received an unruly sum of money. That is going to change and it’s going to change very soon.

 

It’s no secret that next year the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement runs out and that there is – according the NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith - a 95% chance that there will be a lockout. One of the biggest topics that will come up will be salaries and guaranteed money given to rookies. And rightfully so.

 

Teams have been burned too many times by first-round picks that essentially stole the money they were given, while failing to produce on the field. Look at players like JaMarcus Russell, Vernon Gholston and Alex Smith.

 

Smith played his way out a starting job for the 49ers after signing a six-year, $49.5 million deal. Now he has restructured it and he still looks like a sub-par QB on a good day.

 

Gholston, a defensive end taken six overall by the Jets in 2008, signed a five-year deal that included $21 million in guarantees. So far, he has yet to record a sack in the NFL.

 

Then there’s JaMarcus Russell, the first overall pick from the 2007 draft, who was cut from the Raiders this summer, but still walked away after making about $39 million.

 

If you don’t believe that any of those teams would like to get those huge contracts back, you are sadly mistaken.

 

But just because one side of the upcoming labour battle wants to curb these contracts, it doesn’t mean that the NFLPA will be arguing for them. Some veteran players have already come forward in favour of a rookie wage scale.

 

All that you have to know about that situation is that with a salary cap and a salary floor for teams, the less money going to unproven rookies, means more money going to the veterans who have done it before. The rookies don’t even have a horse in this race, either.

 

Even a league that doesn’t do much right, the NHL, has adopted a rookie salary scale. It’s the same with the NBA. How could the biggest league in North America not follow suit?


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