As of now, there is no rookie wage scale for the 2011 NFL draft. The NFL and NFLPA are reportedly discussing the idea though they haven't come to an agreement.
The problem is that the money given to the top 15 picks or so is so out of whack with the rest of the draft that it's almost a curse to have a high pick. If you miss on it, you not only lose a draft pick but also millions of dollars possibly crippling your team with the salary cap.
So if (or when) a rookie wage scale comes and evens out some of the money the top players receive, will teams be more willing to take a risk at the top of the draft? A team may not want to draft Auburn QB Cam Newton or Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert very high, and commit $40 million-plus to him. But if they only had to commit $10 million to $15 million with a rookie wage scale, would there be more risks?
That question was posed to Peter King of SI.com who predicts that we will see more risks at the top of the draft with a rookie wage scale.
Superb question. It's one I'll be asking general managers at the NFL Scouting Combine later this week. I think the answer is yes. Because there is a chance of a rookie wage scale being implemented this year, the Buffalo Bills have to be thinking of Newton with the potential guaranteed money difference -- and I wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers, at number one, will include that as part of their draft deliberations too.
While this would hurt Gabbert's pocket book, it could potentially help him be drafted higher. This is an issue to keep an eye on. It's not clear if there's been any progress to a rookie wage scale being implemented this year.