NEW ORLEANS â€“ Though contract negotiations league-wide are on hold until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, the 32 first-round selections in this yearâ€™s draft will still pocket untold millions before playing a down in the National Football League.
The question is how much. That is the million dollar question. But make no mistake, the Saintsâ€™ No. 1 pick (the 24th overall selection) is guaranteed to be a very rich man, an overnight millionaire if you will.
History tells us so (see chart obtained by SportsNOLA.com).
They're in the Money
Since 2000, the Saints have drafted 11 players in the first round. Those 11 players contracted for $112,444,000 in guaranteed compensation before stepping on an NFL field. That is an average of $10,222,182 per player.
*The Saints have selected three players in the top 10 since 2000 â€“ Johnathan Sullivan, Reggie Bush and Sedrick Ellis â€“ who contracted for $59,224,000 in guaranteed compensation (an average of $19,741,333 per player). None of those players has ever been selected to a Pro Bowl.
*Johnathan Sullivan, who contracted for $12,249,000 in guaranteed compensation, played three seasons with Saints. He played in 36 games and made 15 starts. He had 78 career tackles and 1.5 sacks. That is an average of $157,038 per tackle and $8,166,000 per sack.
Note: Information obtained by SportsNOLA.com
-- Ten years ago, Ole Miss running back Deuce McAllister received $4.26 million in guaranteed compensation from Saints officials as the 23rd overall selection in the 2001 draft.
-- Five years ago, Southern Cal running back Reggie Bush received a franchise-high $27.475 million in guaranteed compensation from Saints officials as the second overall selection in the 2006 draft.
-- Last year, Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson received $6.597 million in compensation from Saints officials as the 32nd and last overall selection of the first round of the 2010 draft.
Nothing against any of the aforementioned players (McAllister one day will join the Saints Hall of Fame; the jury is still out on Bush) but that privileged entitlement of getting millions before breaking an NFL sweat has become a contentious bargaining point for ownership and the playersâ€™ â€œtrade associationâ€™â€™ during their previous sit-down meetings.
A modified salary system for rookies has been a negotiating point for a new CBA.
According to documents obtained by The Associated Press, the NFLâ€™s proposal to the players for a rookie compensation system would divert about $300 million a year from the contracts of first-round draft picks to veterans and player benefits.
AP said the league's offer would free more than $1.2 billion by 2016 and slow the growth rate of guaranteed payments to first-rounders, which the documents show increased by 233 percent since 2000. All contracts for first-round picks would become fixed at five years.
AP also noted that quarterback busts such as JaMarcus Russell ($32 million), Matt Leinart ($12.9 million), David Carr ($15 million) and Joey Harrington ($13.9 million) received huge guaranteed payments that totaled $367 million in the last 10 drafts.
Of course, Eli Manning ($24 million), Philip Rivers ($17.9 million) and Matt Ryan ($34.7 million) have not done too badly for their teams.
Guaranteed money paid to top 10 selections since 2000 reached nearly $2 billion. Guaranteed payments for all first-rounders were at $3.5 billion.
During talks for a new collective bargaining agreement, the league also proposed eliminating holdouts by reducing the maximum allowable salary if a rookie isn't signed when training camp begins. The NFL also suggested eliminating holdouts for all veterans by prohibiting renegotiations of contracts if a player holds out in the preseason.
The compensation system would not include a rookie wage scale and would allow for individual contract negotiations. Contracts would have a fixed length of four years for players chosen in the second through seventh rounds and would not affect salaries for those rounds, the league said.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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