How the NFL CBA in 2011 Changed the Draft Forever

The new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) produced in 2011 is often touted for changing the rookie wage scale.  Here in St. Louis, we are well aware that Sam Bradford received the last huge rookie contract during his draft year.  The impact of those large contracts in the past have ripple effects for years on the ability to sign free agents, and to re-sign other current teammates.

But what other impact has the rookie wage scale had on the draft?  There are two tiers of option year salaries – draft picks 1 – 10 and picks 11 and later.  The option year salary in the 5th year from pick 10 to pick 11 could be $3,000,000 lower!  Is that enough incentive to trade out of the top 10 pick of the draft?

How about the intangibles of a player?  If you just weren’t sure about a player’s off the field issues in the past, you would think long and hard about taking that player before 2011 and giving guaranteed  money to someone with those issues in the range of $40 – $50,000,000.  But now, it’s easier to recover financially from a pick that doesn’t work out because the cost of a bad decision in the top 10 of the draft is now a fraction of what it used to be.  Does that make a GM more likely to take a risk on a player that has had their share of issues in college?  We’ll find out next Thursday.