Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The great rookie stalemate of 2009

Of the thirty-two first round picks from April's NFL draft, nine remain unsigned. All but one of those rookies is amongst the top twelve picks, making life difficult for teams who were hoping the draft would add a much needed boost after a difficult 2008. For the Seattle Seahawks, breaking the stalemate may not be easy.

The situation is clear. Agents and teams like to use the pick either side of their rookie (in Seattle's case, Tyson Jackson and Mark Sanchez) to set a precedent. The Kansas City Chiefs have been unable to agree terms with Jackson, the third overall choice, and appear to be waiting to see what contract Curry signs.

The Curry camp are trying to use Mark Sanchez's contract ($28m guaranteed) as a benchmark, a sum the Seahawks are reportedly unwilling to pay because they don't see a quarterbacks salary as comparable to that of a linebacker. It doesn't help either that Baltimore's Terrell Suggs just recently signed a deal to make him the highest paid linebacker in the NFL.

The two other defensive players taken in the top ten (Jackson and B.J. Raji) also remain unsigned, further restricting negotiations between both parties. Having missed the first four days of training camp, the Seahawks will be anxious to get Curry involved as soon as possible.

But how can they solve this problem? For starters, they might have to accept the situation they find themselves in.

It's obvious to everyone that the NFL must do something to cap rookie spending. The top picks each year earn ridiculous amounts considering they've never taken a snap in the pro's, making what should be a solution for struggling franchises an extra burden. But until something is done about this teams picking at the top of the draft are left to pay the big bucks.

Seattle may have a point that a QB's salary is not comparable to that of a linebacker, but they have few options if they want Curry in camp as soon as possible. The $28m Mark Sanchez earned from the Jets is similar to the deal signed by Chris Long (2nd overall 2008, $29m guaranteed). Last year's fourth overall pick, Darren McFadden, agreed a deal with Oakland to get $26m guaranteed.

It could be that the St Louis Rams have helped out the Seahawks by getting Jason Smith signed to a deal worth $33m in guarantees. Simply put, it places a cap on what Seattle has to pay. They can enter negotiations with a ceiling at that amount and Curry can't expect to get much more than the $28m signed by Sanchez.

It's certainly not outrageous for Curry's agent to demand a contract in the same ball park.

Here's the reality - Aaron Curry is going to get a deal similar to that signed by Chris Long... minimum. We don't know what Curry's agent is demanding and whether it's ridiculously high demands on his part or Seattle dragging their heels that is causing the stalemate. However, it would suit all parties concerned to sit down, get a deal for $29-$30m guarantees signed and get Curry on the field.

If they can't agree terms soon, it's hard to see how this stalemate will be broken. The Chiefs are waiting tight, Sanchez's contract isn't going to get any smaller. Let's hope for both parties' sake that the Seahawks front office can get Curry signed up as soon as possible.

23 comments:

Patrick said...

Definitely agreed. I check every chance I get for an update, and I am so sad to see it has lasted this long. I tend to side with Curry on this, but I also hate seeing a rookie "holdout" from camp. Whatever the reason, it hurts everyone involved. Like Jim Mora said, this is such a valuable time that Curry will never get back. I think the worst part is that PreSeason is only about 2 weeks away. Suddenly, we have a very realistic timetable and Curry needs to sign NOW

Rob Staton said...

I'm still confident we'll hear something today or tomorrow. But I have to admit, it's gone on longer than I thought it would. I don't think the two parties are a million miles away, but a stalemate seems to have been created and it'll be which side cracks first.

NW Pride said...

I hope that there is a rookie salary cap in place very, very, soon. It is getting out of hand that these guys make so much money before proving themselves. I am not saying that the price of a beer, garlic fries, etc. is going to change, but the more the owner pays out to the players the more he has to make it up somewhere else, and it could be the more us fans have to pay. Thats obviously not the case in Seattle (I hope, since Paul Allen is running the show) but with poor markets, crappy teams year after year, and mediocre owners, this rookie money can cause some financial heartache.

Now I know there are so many different views and variables to rookie pay besides garlic fries, and rich ass owners going through financial heartache. I just think it needs to be controlled. 1. I bet a lot of college kids would stay a bit longer in college to get better knowing they cant cash in as easy. Not only to get better as a player, but to actually finish their degree that they got a full ride for. 2. I dont think it is fair at all that a rookie who has proved jack sh&* makes more than a Leroy Hill who has given his blood sweat and tears for 2nd. (maybe 3rd round. cant remember) money to prove himself before he cashed in.

I understand where Aaron is coming from, and I understand where the Hawks are coming from, but I see the devil (in most cases unless we are talking about money hungry Crabtree) is the agent. The more the player signs the more the agent makes. Once the deal is done, and regardless if the player is a bust or famous, the agent is still sitting like a rose. If there were a cap, then maybe the agent would look at the best interest of the player, not himself.

Regardless, I just hope we can get Curry in camp ASAP. This is a team sport though, not a individual sport, so I hope Curry is as smart as we think he is and eventually steps in and tells his agent to get it done if this gets out of hand. If Curry pulls a J. Ruskell on us like he did to the Raiders, then my respect for Curry will drop like a ton of bricks off the Empire State Building.

Rob Staton said...

I think the thing that troubles me most about the amount rookies earn is that picking at the top of the draft is supposed to be a solution to help a struggling franchise. It's what makes the NFL so special for me, that even the worst team has cause for optomism.

However, the rookie contracts are so big now, it's not so much a solution as it is a huge risk that could cripple a team for years. If Matt Stafford doesn't work out for Detroit, then they'll be stuck with him on the roster and all that guaranteed money.

A cap needs to come into place as soon as possible. I think this could also tremendously benefit the prospects, if not financially, in the sense that more might stay in college for their junior/senior seasons and come into the NFL with greater experience and maturity.

I also think too many of the rookies set their college careers out for that one day in April. They work out, max themselves out before a draft get the pay cheque and then the pressure if off. I personally think more rookies would be succesful in the league if their main ambition in life wasn't to be a first round pick, but rather a succesful NFL pro and earn their money by proving themselves in the big leagues.

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The Kansas City Chiefs have been unable to agree terms with Jackson, the third overall choice

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