The NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale is Working

We'll see just what Trent knows soon enough. We'll see just what Trent knows soon enough.

The Cleveland Browns will have both Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson in camp now that they’ve come to terms on contract with their two first round draft choices. That’s good news for the new rookie wage scale as well as for the Browns. It is also interesting to note that even despite all the guaranteed money, the Browns (and all other NFL teams) are far better off financially. In 2010 before the rookie wage scale went into effect if the Browns had selected 3rd and 22nd, they would have been on the hook for more than double the money.

In 2010 Gerald McCoy went third and Demaryius Thomas went 22nd. McCoy signed with the Bucs for five years and up to $63.4 million with $35 million guaranteed. Thomas signed a five year deal worth about $15 million wth $9.35 guaranteed. Combined, the two guys could cost over $75 million and at minimum will cost $43 million over five years. That’s $8.6 million per year minimum that the Browns would have to come up with had they been picking in 2010 before the rookie wage scale.1

So, here’s how the Browns end up looking with the deals they signed with Richardson and Weeden.

Trent Richardson
2012                  390,000               3,335,250               3,725,250
2013               1,321,000               3,335,250               4,656,250
2014               2,252,000               3,335,250               5,587,250
2015               3,184,000               3,335,250               6,519,250
Brandon Weeden
2012                  390,000              1,062,500               1,452,500
2013                  760,000               1,062,500               1,822,500
2014               1,200,000               1,062,500               2,262,500
2015               1,500,000               1,062,500               2,562,500
Grand Total             28,588,000

On first glance it doesn’t appear like $28.6 million total over four years ($7.15 million average) is that huge of a savings over the $8.6 million per year guaranteed under the old system. Trust me though. It is far different. Look at the structure of Gerald McCoy’s contract.

Gerald McCoy
SalaryBonusesBonusesCap Total
2010               325,000            4,600,000           4,925,000
2011               873,750            4,600,000          12,000,000          17,473,750
2012            6,547,500            4,600,000          11,147,500
2013            8,021,250            4,600,000          12,621,250
2014          10,295,000            4,600,000          14,895,000

As you can see, McCoy’s agent got a roster bonus in the second year worth $12 million. While technically that isn’t “guaranteed” how big of a bust would McCoy have had to be in order for the Bucs to cut bait before his second season? McCoy’s signing bonus of $23 million was bigger than Trent Richardson’s entire guaranteed deal. On top of that, if you add his signing bonus and that early roster bonus, McCoy costs more in two years from a cash flow standpoint than Weeden and Richardson do for the entirety of their rookie contracts.

Combine all this info with the fact that the Browns get their rookies in on time and the NFL is working a salary floor into the game and it really should be good for everyone. Guys who have earned big contracts should get more money and rookies and their agents won’t be able to hold up the league based purely on speculation every single year.

What’s not to like?

  1. Incidentally, the Browns did select Joe Haden that year and he’s due monstrous money still, even if we think he might be worth it.

    SalarySigning BonusOther bonusTotal Cap Hit


  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Thank God now I can sleep better because anything that can save money for billionaires has to be good!!!! 😉


  • mgbode

    let’s keep this a sanctuary from politics please

  • mgbode

    i do like that the days of being punished for being a cruddy team by being forced to pay FA-size money for top draft picks is over now.

    imagine the FAs we could have wasted money on if we weren’t paying top dollar to Couch, Brown, Warren, Green, etc.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I smell what your cookin’ it just seemed like the logical association. Forgive me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea and imagine all of the better players that could have been chosen too!

  • mgbode

    yeah, i thought it was funny, but as we know, it tends to snowball ’round these parts pretty quickly

  • Steve_Not_Chad


  • Jaker

    Ohhhh yeahhhh

  • Henry Brown

    The only downside to the low rookie contracts is that teams will cut veterans in favor of rookies to save cap room. The good thing for us is that our smart front office doesn’t blow stupid money on off-the-street free agents and uses that cap space to resign high performing Browns like Thomas, Jackson, Rubin and eventually Haden.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Why? Shamrock’s was a perfectly logical response to this post, and probably the most pertinent one here. Why pretend like sports aren’t part of the rest of the world? Let’s turn our brains off because some people are too immature to talk politics with decorum? What kind of a rule is that?

  • mgbode

    yes, let’s use sports as entertainment/escape from the rest of the world.

  • Jack

    A good one. That’s how most peace-keeping rules work. Overly simplified example: I am very capable of discerning safe times to cross the street, but we use crossing signals to account for the people (pedestrians and drivers) who can’t operate with “decorum.” I sacrifice a certain amount of freedom in adhering to these rules because I know that, in the long run, they’re better for the community.

    Similarly, we the rational sacrifice certain freedoms here in order to preserve the peace.

  • Phil

    Trent Richardson is going to be a stud. Awesome we could get him in here on time so he can make an impact.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Believe it or not, Jack, I understand the basic idea behind sacrificing freedom for peace for the betterment of the community. My point here was that this particular “sacrifice” isn’t actually better for the community. Specifically in this case because it requires the discussion here to turn a blind eye to real world facts that go to an accurate evaluation of whether The NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale actually “is Working,” as well as the questions of just who it is it’s “working” for and whether or not that’s a good thing. If you want to have any kind of worthwhile discussion about whether “The NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale is Working,” you sort of can’t ignore these things. And of course there are also more general reasons why one shouldn’t make artificial boundaries like one between politics and sports, including that doing so helps make the world a safer place for both idiocy and tyranny. But anyway, carry on.

    “I’m not going to eat this broccoli because by sacrificing my freedom to do so I’ll help keep the peace of the deliciousness of my meal of fettuccini alfredo.”

    “I’m not going to work out today because by sacrificing my freedom to do so my muscles and bones will remain peaceful.”

    “I’m not going to have surgery because by sacrificing my freedom to do so, I’ll help maintain the peace of my metastasizing cancer.”

    “Discourse is the same thing as crossing the street.”

    What else?

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Right. Allow me to suggest, then, that this particular form of escapism might not be serving you as well as you like to think it does. Just a thought.

  • mgbode

    I seem pretty happy with it :)

  • mgbode

    the discourse is fine. the first statement from Shamrock would have gotten no response from me. but, politics themselves (as the 2nd line was) tend to generate nothing but mindless bickering.

  • Jack

    “If you want to have any kind of worthwhile discussion about whether “The NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale is Working,” you sort of can’t ignore these things.”

    Have to disagree. Pretty sure I could have an excellently productive conversation about how effective or ineffective the rookie wage scale has been this offseason at achieving its desired effects. In fact, I know that it’s possible because Craig just did so in the article above. #Scope.

    The comment by Shamrock was a joke that was (at best) tangentially related to the topic at hand. And your argument that we need to discuss the global effect of the wage scale (i.e. what the achievement of the desired effect really means for us as a community, a community you seem to want to define as a group other than informed sports fans) is way beyond the scope of the conversation outlined by Craig.

    What exactly are we turning a blind eye to? The fact that, at its base, the wage scale is designed to enable billionaires to better control labor costs and thereby generate profit? I don’t think anyone here is unaware of this, and I hardly think discussing it is going to add any perspective to the conversation Craig outlined. I’m willing to hear suggestions to the contrary…what would talking about Mitt Romney’s economic policy and professional record do to help us better understand the intricacies of the NFL’s rookie wage scale?

    And of course there are also more general reasons why one shouldn’t make artificial boundaries like one between politics and sports, including that doing so helps make the world a safer place for both idiocy and tyranny.”

    And this is just plain wrong. Having social arenas which are, for the most part, protected/secluded from the injection of polarizing political discourse improve the safety and welfare of the community–in fact, that notion is responsible in part for the incarnation of sport. (And I hardly think America is going to be a “safer place for idiocy and tyranny” because we as sports fans decide to inject politics into sports only when liberties are in question, or because we quarantine conversation about political matters to our homes, our offices, the nine or so 24 hr news stations available on basic cable, the constant drivel droning on at the turn of your radio dial, the internet, etc.

    1) they are not artificial: the community of sports fans (despite the protestations of a few outliers) have generally decided that sports fandom should be an arena free from political engagement (except in situations where the liberties of its participants are compromised–e.g. civil rights/equality issues). This is why we have a sports section–time has shown us it’s better this way.
    2) having an arena where individuals can join together in community without the fear of having their beliefs assaulted is a definite positive–it also often serves to UNITE individuals who have different belief systems in a common space (whether physical or otherwise) which fosters relationships that can lead to cooperation in other arenas (e.g. political ones)
    3) don’t be so parochial: do you really think UEFA and the World Cup and int’l club soccer is safer when politics is involved? you don’t think that it would be better if the community of fans collectively decided that political discourse should be reserved arenas other than el stadio? you think the manifestation of politics in those places has bred safety from tyranny and idiocy? or has it just created extreme polarization and incited violence?

    Finally, as a lawyer, you should have a greater respect for discourse–going reductio ad absurdum with my example after I quite explicitly preempted the over simplification I was presenting is pretty bush-league.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    So the tribal violence that goes down at a small handful of soccer games is “politics” now, and what you’re worried about here? Or is that another oversimplification that I’m not allowed to address because you called no tagbacks? It seems that one with the healthy respect that you have for “discourse” should want to support his arguments with examples that aren’t so oversimplified, but what do I know? I’m just a lawyer who needs discourse lessons, not the almighty “Jack.”

    Will try one more time, anyway, though. Craig publishes a post that says “The NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale is Working,” without at all addressing the questions of who it might be working for, and whether it’s a good thing or not that it’s working. Someone else leaves a comment about a certain politician that’s the first thing written at this page to suggest that the aforementioned questions are pertinent to the overall discussion. This earned a reflexive response of “hey, no politics!” I took issue with that reflexive response, to suggest that perhaps such a reaction isn’t so good for the community, and now I’m getting a discourse lesson from “Jack” explaining that it is in fact good, because it is. Peace. We see what happens at soccer games. Etc.

    I should also thank you for showing that I was wrong to suggest that a lack of decorum is the only thing that complicates discussion of politics at a forum like this. There are certainly other impediments as well.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Would also like to add the suggestion that labor issues like “The NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale” are issues that do in fact impact “the liberties of [the NFL’s] participants,” but will defer to “Jack” on this, of course.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    And one last question: “This is why we have a sports section–time has shown us it’s better this way.”

    Really? Professional athletes are as removed from the realities of regular folks as they’ve ever been. Do you really think things are so great out there today? If so, that would explain a lot, and you probably might as well save your breath on the rest.

  • Jack

    Scale and scope, Mr. Frowns. Scale and scope.

    You skipped about half of my argument, so it’s probably about time I let this one drop since I already know you’re not interested in engaging with what I write in any thoughtful way.

    You seem well-read generally so you’re probably familiar with the adage, “Any[body] can kick down a barn..” I asked you direct questions which you chose to skip. I was trying to engage and didn’t insult you (maybe sharp on some notes, but never insulting), but only called attention to what I deemed ‘low blows’ that were more prejudicial than probative. You instead pulled a 2012 prez campaign and attacked (selected) points without giving merit to the thought that went behind them (for example, you should have some faith on the soccer example–you [not I] randomly expanded the scope to include broad themes/communities; so I pointed out that politics being a part of soccer had been left unaddressed for years, and eventually the negligence begot violence–do I think that would happen here? on this blog? is that what I’m worried about? no. I’m simply pointing out that your generalization that dissolving what you call an ‘artificial’ barrier between politics and sports does not necessarily make any place safer from idiocy or tyranny–and in fact, in some cases, the opposite is true)…

    …You then proceeded to level several ad hominem attacks that attempted to cast me as an arrogant fool when that wasn’t the angle I came from at all.

    Anyway, I’ll follow with a final note…
    The rookie wage scale discussion Craig framed (to any reasonable reader, imo) was limited in scope to one question: has the rookie wage scale been effective in achieving it’s direct and immediate desired results? It is my understanding that the direct and immediate endgame of the RWS was to help teams manage costs, prevent rookies who have yet to labor as professionals for a single hour (playing football) from holding their teams hostage to the point that they are forced to commit unjustifiable money (in market terms) to a single player just so they can get them to the team because the fans put obscene pressure on them to do so, and thereby to stabilize the NFL’s market.

    I think Craig demonstrated that there is evidence that is has done that in year 1. That was the scope of the conversation.

    I don’t take issue with politics or (more humbly) a sense of social awareness being a lens/context for discussing some elements of sport, especially professional sport as an industry and cultural phenomenon. I made this point by suggesting that it’s best when appropriate, when it is within the reasonably defined scope of the source material.

    By those criteria, I don’t think breaking the barrier made any sense in this case. And my worries have come to bear here…

    You elevated yourself above people (inherently) when you suggest that “some people” can’t handle political discussion with decorum–implying, I assume, that you can. You possess the intellectual respect and self-restraint to resist employing some of the less savory and less thoughtful rhetorical devices available.

    But then you go and “bolster” your retort with several ad hominem volleys designed, I assume, to imply that I am somehow lesser than you, that I am somehow flawed in a way that makes me in capable of reasoning something and communicating it. What about your approach demonstrates decorum?

    We’ve now done what you’ve suggested was a positive thing–engage sports as something not sheltered at all from the rest of the world. We have (or at least I have, I may be reading your tone incorrectly [though the ‘almighty’ moniker seems pretty objectively decorum-less, as does ending all your thoughts with ‘oh wait, i forgot’]) attempted to engage thoughtfully at the point of origin–discussing how to situate sports in the context of our culture from a global vantage….and in ONE exchange, you resorted to attacking me (throwing my name in scare quotes, sarcastically deferring to me, etc.), cherry/nitpicking my argument, and neglecting to respond to a question asked for the purposes of engagement so we had something to build on.

    If we can’t rely on you to keep discourse on such touchy matters respectful…then how can we rely on the “other/some people”?

  • jimkanicki

    well done jack.

    frownie, this did seem an odd place to put a stake in the ground…

  • ClevelandFrowns

    “If we can’t rely on you to keep discourse on such touchy matters respectful…then how can we rely on the “other/some people”?

    GREAT QUESTION. LOL. Um, I’m sure I’m doing just fine, and that the tyranny of mindless and reflexive “no politics with my sports” escapism has been undermined to some significant extent here so as to have been worth the effort. I’ll keep clicking my heels and telling myself that, anyway.

    You’re absolutely right that I have little interest in debating the merits of my position, and much less on the terms you’re trying to bring to bear on it. Naturally, the most vigorous advocates of things like the rule of order you prefer here tend to be those who are too fat/comfortable with the status quo (see Kanicki and his Romney/Gilbert 2012 ticket), too stupid to know what’s good for them, or some combination of both. Better to avoid procedural debates and stick right to the meat with such folks, of course. But more to the point, I really do understand what you’re saying about the way you think the author intended to confine the scope of his analysis (despite that he ended it by asking, “what’s not to like?). The problem, again, is that it doesn’t at all address my position that it’s relatively pointless to confine the analysis the way you want to do here, and even more to the point, it’s aggressively regressive to censor folks in the comments at the first sign of the discussion expanding in scope. Your “we the rational” lecture about street crossing didn’t really do it either (I *like* the street crossing rules!), so maybe it’s best that we agree to disagree on this point before you go any further with the Judith Martin treatise.

    Which also goes to say that I’m perfectly fine with the level of decorum here, so it’s especially funny to hear that “your worries have come to bear.” As I mentioned above, I could have been more specific with respect to “decorum.” Of course feeble-mindedness and feeble-spiritedness (often situational, of course) tend to undermine such discussions just as much. I really don’t think you should be so sensitive to my having pointed that out in response to your follow-up lecture on “discourse, parochialism, respect, and what’s bush league.” Which of course was even funnier coming from someone behind an anonymous handle, and even more so with your insertion of personal details about my real life identity into the discussion. So maybe try lightening up re: scare quotes and sarcastic deferral, “Jack”?

    In any event, no one can blame you for giving it a go here, and by now it’s apparent to everyone how much good can come when folks have a little less regard for certain artificial (man-made, if you prefer) barriers between politics and sports. What a thing. Let’s go have beers.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    “I am somehow flawed in a way that makes me in capable of reasoning something and communicating it.”

    It happens to the best of us, Jack. Hang in there.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy, Jim. Hang in there.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    If you want to make this even simpler: 1) I questioned the value of a certain rule; 2) You responded by explaining the broad justification for rule-making in general, on behalf of “we the rational.”

    That could fairly be viewed as a thunderingly stupid response when you get down to it, and I could have just said so at the outset (operating on the assumption that all rules are “peace- keeping rules”).

    Another way to look at this:

    1.) Craig: “NFL’s Rookie Wage Scale is Working. What’s not to like?”

    2.) Commenter A: “Well, here’s something that might not be so savory.”

    3.) Commenter B: “NO! POLITICS! TOO TRUTHY!”

    4.) Frowns: “Hey, wait, guys.”

    5.) Jack: “Come on, Frowns! Rules are rules! How do you think anyone ever makes it across the street?”

    So we’re all on the same page now, right?

  • mgbode

    Since I am commenter B in your other post (which you grossly mis-represented btw) making me among the most vigorous advocates of this rule on this site by default, you just called me some combination of fat, comfortable, and stupid with this post.

    (no, I don’t care, I found it pretty funny actually)

  • ClevelandFrowns

    As one who’s a varying combination of fat, stupid and/or comfortable at any of a number of given times, I can relate, brother.

  • mgbode

    the great thing about it is you can increase your overall levels of all 3 at the same time just by drinking some beers

  • jimkanicki

    this is how it happens jack. one moment youre seeking a rational tenor in response to a random frowns socialist/populist provocation …

    … then three months later you’re pounding the table on a troy state money pick over FAU/ howard schnellenberger. and/or you’ve become a connoisseur of tuesday nite #MACtion. #cheddarbay check it out, great take. you too bode.

  • jimkanicki

    this is how it happens jack. one moment youre seeking a rational tenor in response to a random frowns socialist/populist provocation …

    … then three months later you’re pounding the table on a troy state money pick over FAU/ howard schnellenberger. and/or you’ve become a connoisseur of tuesday nite #MACtion. #cheddarbay check it out, great take. you too bode.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    Talk about a lock to be the 2012 Bup. We’d make a fortune.

  • mgbode

    thanks for the invite mr. kanicki, but I care too much about sports already. if you add in money….

    let’s just say there’s a reason I don’t gamble anymore :)

  • jimkanicki

    it’s just a hundo.
    a hundge.