STORM LOOMING OVER ROOKIE SIGNINGS There's talk in league circles that the coming wave of rookie contract negotiations could be more contentious than any round of talks that the league has ever experienced. The problem, as we explained a couple of weeks ago in connection with the Texans' efforts to get the first overall pick signed, is that at a time when the salary cap has surged by 20 percent over 2005, the rookie salary pool is up by only five percent. Further complicating matters is that signing bonus money can be prorated over only five years (the limit moves back to six in 2007), and the maximum length of the deals for the top half of the round is six years. (For the bottom half of round one, the limit is five seasons.) Then there's the so-called 25-percent rule, which states that in each year after the rookie season the player's compensation can increase only by 25 percent of his first-year salary, minus signing bonus. Meanwhile, we hear that the NFLPA is pushing agents to get a 20 percent increase on guaranteed money over what guys in the same slot received in 2005. It's asinine, in light of the limits that the NFLPA allowed to be inserted into the new CBA. Though attempting to explain and/or digest the details can induce insomnia and/or brain tumors, the end result is that a mess is on the horizon. Signing bonuses will be small and/or nonexistent, replaced instead by roster bonuses and other devices aimed at pumping up the basis for the application of the 25 percent rule. In some cities, teams might have to choose not to sign one or more low-round picks, since it could very well require a disproportionate share of the total rookie pool allotment to sign the first-round pick. In Houston, for example, defensive end Mario Williams' first-year cap number should have been $2.83 million, which would have represented a five-percent climb over Alex Smith's $2.7 mllion cap number in 2005. But the Williams number is $2.9 million, which means that there will be $70,000 less in first-year money for the team's other draft picks. In theory, then, it makes sense for teams and agents to get started negotiating deals now. The problem, however, is that the agents like to wait to see how other deals turn out before pulling the trigger. This year, there could be even more guys dragging their feet. Unlike other seasons, the guys who don't strike their deals in time could end up being forced to take a bad deal -- or worse. The team can, if it chooses, hold the player's rights through the 2006 season, forcing him to sit out and preventing him from getting paid. http://www.profootballtalk.com/rumormill.htm I found this from a few days ago..really had NOT seen much about this discussed. With the Pats with 10 picks, one wonders about signing them all and in general what is going on with rookies. How does the NFL decide how much money teams have to spend?? The rookie pool?? That makes sense on one hand..but on the other, I think it's agents being agents for the higher drafted players to want MORE than they should get..and put teams in a position where others may not be signed. Agents have to do something...within those limits so why not push more and more!! Why the new CBA puts teams in a squeeze like this is as stated PRETTY dumb!! More like they didn't knoiw what they were doing... Holdouts are NOT good for football...especially overpayed rooks...I really have little sympathy for those that haven't played a down of football to demand. A solution would be to slot the spots with money etc...NOT sure what the solution is, but it just seems those ENTERING the union have more pull than those that have been in it for awhile. Do you know of any other union where that is the case?? Just an interesting situation...and something that may come into play later in the summer as TC approaches.