One of the many wonderful aspects of the NFL Draft is the trades. When watching the draft and the little ticker at the bottom of the screen rings with the word ‘TRADE’ popping up you can’t but help your heart from jumping with excitement (who knows, maybe it’s just me). Still, trades no doubt make things much more interesting on draft day, and the 2014 NFL Draft could feature numerous trades. Why?
With the current model of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which has put a strict cap on rookie wages, draft picks have soared in terms of value. Before, it was actually a burden on your franchise to have the No. 1 pick in the draft just because of how gargantuan the contracts had become. Plus, the numbers and the contracts would go up every single year simply based on the market.
For instance, QB Matthew Stafford was the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He signed a six-year, $72 million contract with $41.7 million guaranteed. The very next year another QB went No. overall with Sam Bradford going to the St. Louis Rams, and he signed a six-year, $78 million contract with $50 million guaranteed.
The year after that was the first under the current CBA model, and QB Cam Newton was the first to feel the effect. Newton was the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he signed a four-year, $22 million contract, all of which was guaranteed. Had the new rookie wage scale not been in effect, Newton’s market value for a contract would’ve likely been six years, $85 million with close to $60 million in guarantees. That’s a huge difference. Think about how much cap room that saves a team. The economics of building a team totally changed with this.
Think about nearly a $100 million contract for a player who hasn’t even played a down of professional football. Future Hall of Fame QBs in the NFL sometimes get a $100 million contract, and in the old model totally unproven rookies were paid more than grizzled vets who had actually earned their keep.
So the owners got what they want in the rookie wage scale because the total cap hit was much more acceptable, and what the players got in return were shorter rookie contract lengths. Everyone knows the biggest payday for a player is the second, sometimes third contract they’ve signed, so by shortening the length of the rookie contract they’d be 2-3 years closer to signing the mega contract — one they’ve actually earned through play. Win-win.
With the increased value of draft picks, especially in the early rounds, the wheeling and dealing of draft picks has intensified. The 2013 NFL Draft, for instance, featured five major first round trades on draft day alone. That’s not even counting the two trades made prior to the draft involving first round draft picks with Darrelle Revis and Percy Harvin.
The 2014 NFL Draft could very well eclipse that number — heck maybe even before the middle of round one. The teams comprising the top ten all are teams with a number of holes and all would be willing to trade down and stockpile picks.
After all, none of those teams are just a Jadeveon Clowney or Jake Matthews away from winning Super Bowls.