Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden has just become the latest argument for a rookie salary cap in the NFL, having just signed a six-year, $60 million contract.
It’s very similar to the six-year, $61 million dollar deal that Jamarcus Russell signed after missing nearly all of preseason last year. But how much does it help a team when its two highest-paid players are essentially unproven rookies?
McFadden learned from Russell’s contract troubles last year. From YAHOO! NEWS:
McFadden made avoiding a holdout a priority when he picked Ian Greengross as his agent and talks with the Raiders started earlier and went smoother than they did with Russell a year ago.
Greengross stayed in town when preliminary talks showed signs of progress and finalized the deal Thursday night. McFadden came back to the Raiders facility to sign the contract that will guarantee him $26 million and accept congratulations from owner Al Davis.
“I think given their experience last year certainly helped us out in terms of making smoother progress,” Greengross said. “But it was still make progress, hit a wall, just like any other team. I wouldn’t say it was any better, I wouldn’t say it was any worse.”
McFadden’s deal is about on par with some of the other “lottery pick” rookie signings that have generated so much discussion this year.
With McFadden’s deal finalized, three of the top four picks in April’s draft have already signed deals. No. 1 pick Jake Long got a $57.75 million, five-year contract with $30 million guaranteed from Miami and third pick Matt Ryan got a $72 million, six-year contract with $34.75 million guaranteed from Atlanta.
The big guaranteed deals for rookies has generated some resentment from veterans around the league.
Naturally. With Warren Sapp gone, Russell and McFadden will be the team’s highest paid players, according the the USA TODAY player salary index. The two, combined, have started one game.
The bottom line is that the owners feel like they can pay these players and still be in business. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. And while these rookies aren’t necessarily better than those that came before them, they’re shiny and new. The owners, in a way, are buying hope, and hope carries a hefty price tag.