Rookie wages could be set to change 

September, 20, 2009
• Overlooked in the discussion of the now-expected uncapped year in 2010 is the fact NFL commissioner Roger Goodell then would have the right to do away with the controversial rookie pool. With one simple decision, Goodell could rid the league of the rookie pool, according to multiple league sources. No one is quite sure whether this would be a good thing or a bad thing for the league. Certain teams could pay whatever they wanted for draft picks, but with each team being strapped for cash, it's possible it could work against rookies, as well. Clearly, if Goodell opted for this course of action, it would put the NFL and the Class of 2010 in a world of uncertainty. Former NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw used to argue that if the salary cap went away, it never would come back, and if it didn't, neither might the rookie pool.

• While the rookie pool has its detractors, it also has its proponents. Many believe that, after the top 16 or so picks, the rookie pool offers good value to the teams in the league. And consider this: The amount of signing bonuses given to the draft's top 16 picks usually is almost identical to the amount of signing bonuses given to the rest of the entire rookie class. It illustrates the discrepancy and the flaws in the system. The top rookies are rewarded handsomely -- too much so -- while other rookies make wages befitting unproven players.

• If Goodell did away with the rookie salary cap in the spring, one of the players that would be most directly impacted would be holdout wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Some league executives believe that Crabtree's situation could turn into one straight out of baseball, similar to what Stephen Strasburg went through with the Washington Nationals. Strasburg told the team what he wanted, and teams around baseball knew it. Some believe that, if Crabtree were to re-enter a draft without a rookie pool, he could tell teams his price and essentially tell teams not to bother drafting him unless they're willing to meet his demands. Plenty would have to happen to reach that point, but it's not inconceivable that it will.