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Wheels turning on rookie salaries

Posted by Albert Breer  November 10, 2009 10:27 AM

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So remember how, when the Patriots dealt Richard Seymour, they insisted on a 2011 first-round pick from the Raiders, rather than one in 2010?

Well, the salary situation in regards to top-of-the-draft picks -- and this is assuming the Raiders' pick will be high in both years (not a bad assumption) -- was at issue there, as the Patriots were forecasting, in essence, that a more stringent rookie cap would be in place in 2011, but not '10. Now, it seems, the league is trying to get that worked out.

Per Pro Football Talk, Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal is reporting that at a Nov. 4 meeting with the union, a league proposal included a rookie wage scale. This, of course, is hardly a surprise.

Here, you can put the risk the Patriots took into focus. The 2010 draft is expected to be a very strong one, and will likely become even stronger if a bevy of underclassmen declare. There's a good chance that happens, if a new CBA hasn't been struck by the time the January deadline to declare arrives. In that scenario, elite college players are going to look at the chance that there will be a rookie wage scale in '11, and see the money they could have immediately might not be there a year later, which could lead to a mass exodus to the NFL.

So what happens if a new CBA, with a rookie wage scale, is reached before the new league year opens at the end of February? Then, you have a loaded draft with controlled salaries. And then, the Raiders '10 first-rounder is more valuable than the their '11 first-rounder.

Of course, nothing's done here, at all. You can trust this: The union knows how valuable a chip it has here. The owners hate paying unproven commodities (i.e. rookies) big money, and the PA isn't just going to hand over control of that without getting something valuable in return. On top of that, there's a real good chance that the talks drag well into the offseason, keeping the current rookie salary situation in place for this April's draft.

But for people who are bored by the CBA talks, maybe this gives you something to watch that will have an impact on the local team.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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