The week before last, there was some talk of player agents and the NFLPA withholding players from participating in the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, the annual event which goes a long way toward making final determinations about draft stock...and the contracts that draft picks receive. Most considered the prospects of a Combine boycott minimal at that point in time, but that was before the NFL floated a rookie wage scale proposal last week. Agents and the NFLPA are scheduled for a conference call today to discuss the matter, amongst other issues, according to Jason Cole at Yahoo Sports.
I hate to clip this much text from a must-read article, but this is the money quote. Sayeth one agent:
I'm all for getting those contracts for the top six to 10 players under control; we all see that it's a problem. But what the league is talking about, it's criminal. Five years and a flat amount? For a lot of guys that's their whole career. We all get it, [disappointing] guys like JaMarcus Russell(notes), Aaron Maybin(notes) or even Matt Stafford getting hurt, there's a lot of risk for the clubs. But if a guy plays and plays well, there should be ways for him to make up the difference.
Under the league's proposal the top pick in the draft would get a five-year, $19 million contract with $6 million guaranteed. That's a little more than most of us are going to make over the next five (hundred) years, but it's a far cry from the six-years, $72 million that Sam Bradford got, with $50 million guaranteed.
However, it's no small task being asked of Bradford, a 23-year-old tasked with reviving a dying franchise that's struggled to sell tickets or garner decent television ratings for five years now. Professional football is an incredibly profitable venture, more so than ever, so to some extent large contracts for players with that kind of responsibility are justified. After all, their success on the field is what sells tickets and helps get stadiums built. They deserve a share of the loot, but the $50 million guaranteed is a little extreme.
And you can see in the article that agents, agents, are willing to negotiate on the rookie salaries.
Despite their anger over the status of negotiations, a Combine boycott is still highly unlikely. It would be impossible to get all agents and players to agree to skip the event, especially with some players really needing the opportunity to boost their draft stock.
A boycott may be out, but read the article and you can expect some form of protest to impact the Combine. Some of the bigger name players could skip and use a pro day or private workout to make up for it. Sam Bradford didn't throw at the Combine; it was his workout in Norman, OK that cemented his status.
Fireworks in Indianapolis, just about 10 days away.