How the NFL can solve a dozen problems with one bold move: ditch the draft

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by lamafist, Mar 27, 2009.

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  1. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Since the advent of the salary cap era, the NFL draft has been at best redundant and, presently, actually counterproductive as a tool to help instill competitive balance among the teams in the NFL.

    When teams had no spending limit, the league needed the draft to prevent successful teams from going out and buying all of the best players coming out of college. The salary cap was (putatively) installed to serve the same purpose for free agents, and would not only continue to function in that regard, but would actually function BETTER if you treated all players coming out of college as UFAs. I say better, because at this point, the escalation of the 1st round rookie contract structure: a) ensures that the early picks will be grossly over-payed at the expense of the middle-round guys and the veterans., and b) punishes the teams the draft is supposed to help by forcing them to wager way too much money on their picks working out.

    When the conventional wisdom says nobody ever wants the #1 pick, you know the system is broken. Many suggest tinkering with the rookie pay scale, but that's going to be a non-starter with the NFLPA and the agents for a host of reasons. It also would result in dramatic increase in
    general animosity between the young players and their franchises, and lead to even more nasty contract disputes, holdouts, and all the general ugliness that makes rooting for your team less fun.

    No, the only solution that makes sense is to entirely abolish the draft. You can keep the combine, Mel Kiper, and all of the over-analysis if you want, only replace the actual draft days with a "rookie signing convention." Teams can talk all they want with the rookie free agents before then, but no arrangements can be binding until noon on Day 1 of the signing convention. There's no limit or floor on the contracts offered, no artificial restrictions on contract structure or length, and teams are free to sign as many or as few players for as much or as little money as they want.

    Here's a list of problems this will solve:

    * Teams like the Lions, who would be better suited in their rebuilding effort by acquiring a bunch of mid-priced guys instead of paying one college star a ridiculous amount of money, would be able to do so.
    * You no longer have to worry about having the most promising college players' careers ruined by ending up stuck with lousy franchises.
    * With players no longer being forced to negotiate with just one franchise, there's no need for the protective limits on contract structure that the agents can then turn to their advantage, at the expense of the functionality of the system.
    * Consequently, rookie salaries will no longer vary independently of the overall quality of the draft pool.
    * A rookies' first experience in the league isn't being jerked around, told where you're going to play, for whom, and for approximately how much, and how long before you can go somewhere else. Do not underestimate the long-term benefits of this. The draft is THE reason that so many players end up with a huge chip on their shoulders after a few years in the NFL.
    * If you fell in the draft because of an injury or rumors about your character, too bad -- you're making 4th round pick money for the first 4-5 years of your career. Without a draft, if you think your value is artificially low coming out of school, find someone willing to offer you a 1 year "prove it" deal with a big roser-bonus in year $2, if the team wants to keep you.
    * Employees like to be treated like valued assets, not prizes or cattle. Players will behave much, much better in bad situations that they chose themselves of their own free will than they will in situations in which they were told to pack their bags and move to Buffalo. Graduates of med, law, and business school often have to move to undesirable places to get the job they want, but they stick it out because they made that choice.
    * Veteran players will be happy, as they'll likely get a bigger piece of the pie when teams aren't forced to keep a rookie pool. Meanwhile, most of the rookies will be getting a bigger piece of the pie, too -- the only ones who will be unhappy are the would-be-early-1st-rounders, whose price tags have been artificially inflated.
    * Without the draft-induced chip on their players' shoulders, teams will find it easier to resign their players. This will do more to defray the losses a team suffers in free agency than the Franchise Tag, which was a huge miscalculation, and has caused way more problems than its fixed.
    * If a player wants to play where he grew up or went to college, he can make it happen by offering a hometown discount. Having more players playing in places they have pre-existing fanbases and support structures can only be a good thing.

    Seriously, I could go on all day. I mean, I know that at this point in history, many of us are less than convinced of the sustaining power of free-market forces, but in a controlled system like the NFL creates with its salary cap, it really should work as well in practice as it does in theory. It would be a win-win-win situation for the owners, players, and fans.

    Too bad it'll never, ever happen. There's no way any commissioner would go far enough out on a limb to actually see it through.
  2. CampPen33

    CampPen33 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    You think things are complicated NOW?

    This will just make everything extremely difficult. If the rookies were allowed to choose who they played for, the most attractive, lucrative teams would have a huge advantage. There would have to be some restrictions you don't mention, like the a single team can only sign a certain number of rookies in a certain class.

    Assign a tier level or something. Where a team can only sign two tier one, two tier two etc.

    what you think?

    Interesting perspective though.
  3. Grizzafted

    Grizzafted Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Yeah it would be a totally great idea for the NFL to ditch their hype-generating headline event, where the sports world spends an entire offseason weekend watching and discussing the league, and which builds substantial excitement for the coming season. :rolleyes:
  4. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? Supporter

    No Jersey Selected

    It is an interesting perspective but I think the NFL would be better served putting pay restrictions or limits on picks. First round would make the highest, of course, but they wouldn't make anywhere near the deals that we're seeing now.
  5. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson In the Starting Line-Up

    #37 Jersey


    Just kidding. You make a very compelling case. Great post.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  6. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    What you are describing is an analogue to an already existing system if you know it or not. It is the the baseball system. There the baseball draft is largely insignificant. Judging by the number of work stoppages, and the unwieldy and frankly precarious distortion of the MLB. I don't think there was an improvment in employee attitude. I hardly think an actual test case by the NFL is needed to see what results. The MLB baseball commissioner was actually calling for a League contraction and killing several franchises.

    Just look at mess that is MLB. Bleeach!

    Your Free Enterprise Analogy is all wrong. Sports leagues are not multiple business environments, even as they may be superficially organized to appear that way. They are a single business enterprise with multiple divisions competing in a closed environment.

    Think of them as Stores owned by a single business an they compete to sell the same product available nowhere else, to others. A single store "wins" or "loses" but that is at the expense of the other company Stores in the neighborhood. McDonald's sells Hamburgers. The only place you can buy a "Big Mac" is at a McDonald's store. Nowhere else. Store "A" wins if it sells 1001 Big Macs and Store "B" loses if it sells only 999. Big Deal.

    If you don't like Big Macs (football), you can go buy a Whopper (basketball) from another business enterprise.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  7. the draft should have been ended years ago.

    The draft was always more about avoiding a bidding war for players than it was about maintaining competitive balance.

    Not only are college players restricted to one team if they want to play pro football in this country, but their salary is predetermined by their draft selection.

    The NFLPA is happy to further restrict the salaries of draftees if it means more money available for veteran players.

    So a college player is faced with the proposition of having their team chosen for them and their salary determined by their draft slot and by a union where they have no representation.

    Don't be afraid of ending the draft, the best organizations will do fine.
  8. Pats726

    Pats726 Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    I am sure you could go on with this all day...but I do not see it as win win situations at all. And I do not think colleges would be at all pleased by the intrusion on pro agents grabbing their players even more so than they do now. If one thinks of tampering with free agents as it is now, it would be even more rampant with college kids who are under the NCAA rules. A LOT goes on now, but that would exponentially increase.
    By the way I do not worry at all about millionaire first year players playing with lousy franchises.not do I truly believe it solves a ton of problems. AND in fact I do think as many new problems will appear as old ones.
  9. hyperpat

    hyperpat Practice Squad Player

    #24 Jersey

    Intriguing, thoughtful and controversial post. Hard to get a better mix than that.

    Not sure it work as well as you suggest, but it would be interesting as hell to follow the signing convention horse-trading. I think Belichick would excel in the type of system you describe.

    Of course, he is excelling in this one, too.
  10. JSn

    JSn Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Rookie Maximums.
  11. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox Supporter

    #50 Jersey

    Many of your assumptions are wrong or don't represent the majority of the players..

    The NFL Draft was instituted back in 1936. Could you please show me where in the annals of the NFL they say they implemented it to keep all the high end talent from being bought by one team?

    1) You blame the organizations for players failing. Please list out all the players who have had "promising careers" cut short by playing for bad organizations. Please keep in mind that the Patriots were one of the "bad organizations" for a long time.

    2) If you take away the draft, how do you know that you still won't have ridiculous rookie contracts? Do you honestly think that agents won't try and get every penny they can for their players, regardless of experience?

    3) You need to educate yourself on free agency better. Under the current CBA, the NFL has the shortest time span to be a UFA of the NFL, NHL, and MLB. I don't know about the NBA. By the rules the league has, no salary cap means that players would be restricted to ONE and only ONE team for 6 years before they became a free agent, unless they were released. If you think that players are complaining now, wait until they have to wait 6 years to be UFAs.

    4) The idea that players will behave better because of a situation they got themselves into is laughable. Look at Terrell Owens in Philly and Dallas. Those were both situations he got himself into. And he shot his way out both times with the label of malcontent. Or Travis Henry.. Or a slew of other players who have had issues regardless of where they've played.

    5) If you look around the league, Players from the 2nd round on usually are making the league minimum with a signing bonus. And the only difference is the signing bonus. Yes, there could be incentives in the contract, but all players could have that put in..

    6) I think you really over-estimate the "chip" that players have on their shoulders by being drafted in a particular round.

    7) And because you over-estimate that "chip", you over-estimate how many players don't re-sign with their original teams. I think if you go and look through-out the league that the rate of re-signing with your original team is pretty high unless the original team doesn't want you.

    While you could "go on and on," I am pretty sure that I could come of with plenty of rebuttals for you.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  12. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox Supporter

    #50 Jersey

    Grizz - I have to give the OP credit. He would actually be replacing the draft with the Rookie signing convention he mentioned.

    One of the problems with this idea is that contracts don't get signed over-night, generally. It usually takes a few days of haggling. So, while the idea is good, its not practical. If it was made a week long thing, then it might be.. And, well, the league would steal a LOT of thunder from the start of the baseball season.
  13. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox Supporter

    #50 Jersey

    Can you tell me any company where the salary of a position isn't pre-determined?

    The only players who are really being obscenely paid are the top 10. If you look at the salaries of the 11-32 players, they are not that out of whack. And most of the players from the 2-7 rounds get close to the same salaries. They just get different bonuses and different incentive scales.

    The Draft was instituted in 1936. If you can tell me why it should be, please do.
  14. KY Pats Fan

    KY Pats Fan Practice Squad Player

    Great post with a lot of thought provoking ideas and it has its merits. I just think teams like Detroit, Cincinatti, and Houston would never get any of the top players. The reason teams don't want to draft #1 is because of the insanity in the pay for a crap shoot. A rookie salary cap would accomplish several things.
    1. Not penalize a team and destroy their cap situation.
    2. Help vets out who have been there and done that.
    3. I believe a side benefit would help with the "Pacman" syndrome. Stop giving wads of cash to kids who don't have the background, intelligence, or discipline to manage that kind of money and get into all kinds of trouble.
  15. spacecrime

    spacecrime Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    You should write for BSPN. You have the analytic skills of Mark Shlereth and Jamie Dukes. :rolleyes:
  16. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    I don't see it happening for a couple of reasons. One, the draft helps owners keep control by preventing rookies from creating a bidding war for their services. Two, the draft has become a mini-industry from which the NFL gains a ton of free publicity, and profits from the television rights to its coverage, as well as additional viewers to their network and website.

    As a fan it could be a very interesting scenario as long as the salary cap was still in place. For two weeks after the Super Bowl players cannot talk to other teams while their original team tries to work a deal to re-sign them. Then for the next four-six weeks any team can talk to any free agent or rookie. Continue to have the combine pro days and individual workouts and interviews. Then as of a specific day, free agents and rookies can sign with whatever team they want. As long as the salary cap is still in place, that would still be the balance that would prevent a team from buying a championship.

    Again, I don't think it will happen, but if it did it would not be the blasphemous end of the world scenario that some may think it would be.
  17. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    With the salary cap in place, I don't really see how the more lucrative teams would have any more of an advantage than they do now, with free agency. In fact, it could have the opposite effect, in that it would give shrewd coaches (like Belichick) more flexibility in employing the Moneyball concept of building teams based on skill-sets that are being undervalued by other teams.

    I don't think there's any way the league could get the NFLPA to sign onto something like that. Furthermore, the draft's legality is based on the NFL's special exemption from federal labor laws, but I don't know that they extend so far as to let the league control not just who the prospective employees could bargain with, but also for how much,

    You can't really compare the NFL to the other two sports. The NFL is the only league with a hard cap, it's the only one in which franchises don't sell their own local TV rights, and the length of time even a high-drafted baseball player spends on the minors or a baller spends on the bench tends to longer than your average RB's career. Second of all, while the drafts might not be as significant in those sports, it's not at all like they don't have them.

    I don't think there's any logic to the supposition that the NFL without a draft would in any way resemble the NBA or MLB.

    As for your business analogy:

    The NFL's anti-trust exemptions are predicated on its acting like competing business, and your McDonald's franchise comparison really just makes my argument for me: a McDonalds' main competitor, in the eyes of its franchise owner, is never another chain's franchise, but the other McDonald's franchise across town. That's where the franchise owner loses business to. While it might not matter to corporate HQ which location "wins," it's means everything to the bottom line for the individual franchise owners.

    I'm not really sure I see how this would encourage or discourage any more tampering with players while they're still in college. Could you explain?

    And it's not the millionaire players I'm worried about -- it's me, the fan, who doesn't want to watch the most promising prospects potentially ruined by being drafted by Oakland or Detroit. I mean, think about it -- the best QB in the draft usually ends up on the worst team in the league. Are there really so many quality QBs in the league that we can spare a few by sticking them on teams with no o-lines so they hear footsteps the rest of their careers?

    Thanks. And honestly, I'm not sure it would work as well as I suggest either. I'm sure it would end up having a ton of problems -- the question is, would it have fewer than the system we've got in place now?

    IMO, the draft is actively hurting competitive balance, and unnecessarily pissing off most of its new employees, and the only people benefiting by it are the agents.

    And, yeah, I think BB would kick serious butt in a system like this -- and I also think that day 1 of the rooking signing convention would make for 10x better TV than the draft. Think about how many fans change the channel when there team doesn't have a pick for a while -- now imagine that you never know when your team could show up at the podium to introduce the new guy they just signed.

    Rather than decrease overall interest in the acquisition of rookies, I think changing the format to essentially an auction might even increase it.
  18. scout

    scout Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    #15 Jersey

    I love the draft. It needs to be fixed where the rookies don't make gazillions of dollars. That's it. Please don't bring up Curt Flood type problematic issues. If you did not have a draft it would be similar to the NHL of years ago where the Montreal Canadians would receive the first pick, even though they had just been crowned "World" Champions.
    Correct the financial salaries of the rookies and it will open up a whole new way of life.
  19. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    And you should write commercials for tampons, because you clearly have something stuck up your vagina.
  20. lamafist

    lamafist Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Are you really arguing that playing on a bad team can't impair a players' development? Do you actually believe that, or are you just trying to be difficult? I mean, how many times have you looked at a former first-round d-lineman and think "imagine what this guy could've been like if he'd gotten to be coached by BB?"

    Well, if teams still give out ridiculous contracts, absent the artificial limits imposed on them now, then it's really their own fault, isn't it? I mean, sure, the Raiders and Redskins will probably spend themselves into cap hell right off the bat, but if you look at the trends from the last bunch of years, aside from a few head-scratchers, free agency hasn't turned into the spending frenzy people thought it would be. The cap works well enough -- it doesn't need the draft.

    Uh... what are you talking about, dude? I'm talking about getting rid of the draft, not the salary cap.

    Yes. Let's name two exceptional head-cases, and say they represent the whole of the NFL. Let's do that.

    I have no idea how this acts as a counter-argument. Please explain.

    Really? You think? If a player didn't get 1st round money as a rookie, then he's going to make damn sure he gets his payday as a FA. If you take away the draft and its artificial pay structures, you'll greatly reduce the pay discrepancy between the haves and have-nots, plus give players the option to take less money in retrun for a one or two year contract, and bank on raising their value.

    I disagree. I see a lot of anonymous guys resigning with their teams because they're going to get around the league minimum wherever and I see a lot of successful 1st rounders re-signing high-profile extensions, because those are easy negotiation situations. Where it gets tricky is when you've got guys like Clinton Portis or Asante Samuel, the mid-rounders who feel like they've overperformed their rookie deals, and end up signing somewhere else, often for not that much more money, because contract talks with their original team stall because the player expects more compensation for what he's already done for the team.

    I'm sure. And I'd rebut your rebuttals, and you'd rebut my rebuttals of your rebuttals.

    Isn't that the whole point of this forum?
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