At the beginning of the lockout, the rookie-wage scale wasn’t something too many people were worried about. After all, lowering the amount of guaranteed money given to risky rookies was a sensible move for both sides.
However, the wage scale popped up as a problematic issue in later stages of negotiations. Fortunately, both sides found common ground and, as our own Mike Freeman reported on Thursday, worked out the “basic parameters of a rookie-wage scale proposal.”
Those basic parameters, according to ESPN, involve four-year deals for rookies with team options for a fifth year.
There would be an approximate decrease in money to rookies by “40-50” percent, with that money directed to veterans and retired players. However, Schefter’s report indicates that during the fifth, optioned year the player would receive “a salary equal to the average of the top 10 player salaries” at that player’s respective position.
Yes, this is similar to the calculations for the franchise tag and, yes, it gives clubs to re-negotiate with third- and fourth-year players ahead of time if they’re performing at an elite level.
Picks 11-32 under the reported system would receive a fifth-year salary equal to the average of the No. 3-25 salaries at their respective positions. And, finally, Schefter reports that the money involved would be guaranteed if the fifth-year option was “exercised after the third year” of the deal.
You can argue up-and-down about who won (and who lost; though it’s pretty obvious that the rookies did and it’s pretty obvious why no one was telling them anything) this area of negotiating, but the truth is that it presents a fair way in which to reward players whose talent shines early in their career without penalizing teams too drastically for a failure to evaluate talent at the top of the draft.