We would all be acting ignorant if we were to take at face value what the higher-ups in the NFLPA are spitting at us: that increasing rookie salaries is not one of the main issues of pending talks between the players and owners and instead one relevant issue among many. Yes, there are many issues involved in the discussions to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement between NFL players and team owners; however, you better believe that rookie salaries is the main, overarching topic. When Matt Ryan, who has never taken a professional snap and was not even picked #1 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft receives $72 million with nearly $35 million of that guaranteed, veteran players are going to get mad and owners are going to get scared.
The answer may be a slotting system, but as NFLPA President Kevin Mawae states, if the players give in on a slotting system, the owners better be giving something back in return. The other major issue I see comes in the debate over what percentage of overall revenue the players should be entitled to. NFL players currently receive roughly 60%, amounting to a total of $4.5 billion each year, leaving owners about $4 billion. Mawae says that no matter what the issues are, the players remain united around Gene Upshaw (has the disunity subsided?).
Some other issues that are being discussed include: G-3 funding for stadiums, better benefits, easier access to treatment for retirees, pensions, bigger salaries, and guaranteed contracts. To be honest, I have always wondered how the owners get away with giving players these fake contracts that have little to no guarantee. Sure, football is a dangerous sport full of major contact on the human body, but shouldn’t that actually play as a strong point for guaranteeing a contract? If a player is going to give his all every Sunday, should he not be compensated for putting his life or future ability to walk in danger? Why do baseball and basketball players have their salaries guaranteed but football players struggle to get a small portion of their contract deemed as “guaranteed money”?
Most likely, the retirement and pension issue will get pushed to the side like it always is, in favor of talking about the sexy issues of revenue sharing and rookie slotting. There are many, including Leigh Steinberg, who will be upset if the NFLPA and the owners push the topic to the back of their agenda.