From the Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-spt-0808-bears-chicago--20100807,0,3680187.story : "Are rookies getting too much money too soon?"
Uhm, I can answer that one for you, guys.
I'm not sure if NHL has a rookie wage scale, but I know the NBA does, and MLB does not. The Lions, between Matt Stafford and Ndamukong Suh, have committed a guaranteed $80 million to a rookie and a second-year QB who has yet to do much on the pro level.
Just to compare, the entire Detroit Pistons team will make $63 million next year. Hell, LeBron's six year deal in Miami is only worth $15 mill more!
JaMarcus Russell, legendary bust, can live off his rookie contract for the rest of his life, chillin' and drinkin' purple drink.
The simple fact is, about half or more of your first rounders every year will be busts or at least underachievers. And yet the guaranteed money keeps on coming.
As the Trib article points out, veterans are strongly opposed to the system. Agents, on the other hand, are pretty much in favor, which means the guaranteed contract culture is just fostering a system of corruption in college athletics. Instead of playing for the team, guys can just play for that first megadeal.
Hell, Sam Bradford missed all of last year, and got $50 mill guaranteed from the Rams as the No. 1 pick.
In my mind, this is the top issue that needs to be resolved in the upcoming, and highly dramatic, 2011 offseason.
The problem is that the players, as Hunter Hillenmeyer put it for the Tribune, don't want to see that money go away from the players and back to the owners. If you start guys off getting less, then they end up getting less. That's the idea.
My philosophy would be similar to the NBA's: First rounders get 3 year deals, second rounders get 2 year deals, third through fifth rounders get 1 year deals, all with a set dollar amount based on leaguewide average at the position (like the franchise and transition tags, but lower amounts for rookies). Then these guys can renegotiate while they are still in prime position to get paid in their second and hopefully third contracts.
Anyway, it's a thorny issue. But I think it's insane that JaMarcus Russell is still making more money than me.