The details of the new rookie wage scale are starting to come out, and the change from what the players originally wanted to what the owners ended up agreeing to spells bad news (sort of) for the Vikings' first round draft choice, quarterback Christian Ponder.
From everything I can gather, all rookie contracts under the new deal will be four-year deals with an option for a fifth year (for first-rounders, anyway). According to Albert Breer via Twitter, the decision on the option will have to be made at the three-year point of the contract. For example, after Ponder signs his rookie contract this year, he will be signed for the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons, with an option for the 2015 season. . .but the option for 2015 has to be decided after the 2013 season is complete, not the last year of the contract.
The amount of that option year is where Ponder will take a bit of a hit, according to Pro Football Talk. The players' original demand was that, when it came to figuring option year salaries for those players, that players selected in the top half of the first round (or picks 1 through 16) would get a salary that season that pays them an average of the top 10 players in the NFL at their position, and players selected in the bottom half of the first round (picks 17 through 32) would get a salary that pays them an average of the top 20 players in the NFL at their position.
What the players and owners ended up agreeing on, reportedly, was that players selected in the top ten that had their options picked up would get paid an average of the top ten players in the NFL at their position, and the remaining first rounders would get paid an average of the third to the 25th-highest paid players at their position.
So, since Ponder is one of those players that was selected in the first half of the first round, but not in the top ten, he would be negatively affected by that seemingly minor shift. The other players in the same boat are J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans, Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions, Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams, Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins, and Ryan Kerrigan of the San Diego Chargers.
As the PFT article points out, however, overall the amount of pay for the top ten picks in the draft is expected to drop somewhere between 40 and 55 percent, which is money that can now be shifted over to veteran players and retired players. In my opinion, that's the way it ought to be. . .don't get me wrong, I think Sam Bradford is a nice quarterback and everything, but the idea of giving him $50 million before he even took part in an NFL mini-camp should strike anyone as pretty ridiculous. It appears that the days of that sort of thing happening are gone.