Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Mar 2013

How Can Teams Best Take Advantage of the Rookie Salary Cap?

Chase Stuart explores how teams should hypothetically adjust their game plans in light of the now-capped rookie deals.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 19 Mar 2013

5 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2013, 5:12am by Subrata Sircar


by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 03/19/2013 - 12:02pm

Very interesting article, but I'd argue the point about GMs and coaches having an "irrational" desire to win now. It might be irrational from the standpoint of a fan who sees the franchise as a never-ending entity. But it's entirely rational for any GM or coach with less than 3 years remaining on his contract to operate in a "win now" mode. A long-term strategy doesn't do you any good if you get fired before the long-term arrives.

by usernaim250 :: Tue, 03/19/2013 - 3:20pm

Not impressed.

How about considering the implications by position? First round running backs used to be poison. Now, given that free agent runners are overpaid, I think they look more attractive. On the other hand, we're seeing the market in veteran pass rushers deteriorate. Does that mean that drafting an edge rusher with a high pick is less crucial?

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 03/19/2013 - 3:33pm

This article makes me wonder if teams should be less reticent to spend money on free agents, as the salary floor means that you have to spend it on someone. Perhaps try to do what the Colts seem to be doing at the moment and deploy your surplus cap room in one offseason so that you can get compensatory picks in other years.

by JonFrum :: Tue, 03/19/2013 - 8:18pm

Meh.... no recognition of the top draft picks who got huge contracts and never panned out. The get-them-signed logic had driven up first round contracts faster than the salary cap had increased. And every year, multiple first round picks don't pan out. There a big difference between a free market for veterans and a free market for rookies. SOMEONE is going to get the money - the salary floor demands it. So it's not like it's going into the owner's Pimps 'n Hos parties. And of course the union and membership signed off on the deal, so it's hard to argue with. To get true market value, you'd have to have one-year-max contracts with no tags.

by Subrata Sircar :: Tue, 03/26/2013 - 5:12am

"One-year-max contracts with no tags" was essentially Charlie O. Finley's nightmare when Marvin Miller floated the idea. The problem is that the free market favors the one with the most talent, and it's a vicious bell curve. If everyone was a free agent every year, you end up with stars making $20M and a lot of players making the minimum. This doesn't benefit the players - the median salary is likely higher than it would be the other way, not to mention the massive paycuts after injury or a down year. This doesn't benefit the fans - if everyone's a free agent, it's very, very hard to build a dynasty or bond with the team when more than half of its personnel might turn over every year. It doesn't benefit the owners - they can never really get a good deal, because their good choices only last for a year. Even good players on fair contracts get hurt, so the owners will inevitably pay for more production than they get each year, with no real chance to make it up in the long term.

It's an interesting notion, but very chaotic and unclear whether it would be better for anyone.