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Rookie pay scale agreement good sign for NFL labor talks

Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford Credit: Getty Images

For the owners and players negotiating the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement, baby steps are better than no steps at all.

Their adoption of an altered rookie wage scale Wednesday offered hope for avoiding a work stoppage come the extended negotiating deadline of 11:59 p.m. Friday. Not a great lot of hope, of course, since a deep chasm still exists over the $9 billion bounty the sides are clawing over. But at least the talks didn’t move backwards.

That’s the way negotiations seemed headed when sources told the Sports Business Journal that financial reports the owners turned over to the players Tuesday were not the ones the players originally requested two years ago.

“We’ve seen none of that,” NFLPA executive committee member Mike Vrabel told
the business magazine.

Now, there is at least the potential for another negotiating extension, possibly as long as a month. The new rookie scale, as reported by, will limit all first-round contracts to four years, down from six for the current top 16, and five for the final 16. It will also cut down the maximum contract terms for players in subsequent rounds from four to three years.

The players agreed to limitations on signing bonuses and guaranteed money for draft picks, making more money available for proven veterans and sending rookie bonanzas — such as the six-year, $72 million deal for 2010’s top pick Sam Bradford — the way of the Dodo bird.

It was a minor issue, but one that could convince both sides to add yet another extension onto the ticking clock come Friday.

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