Many Rookie Contract Negotiations Temporarily on Hold

Quarterback Joe Flacco, a first-round draft pick in April, agreed to a contract with the Baltimore Ravens in recent days but most negotiations league-wide between teams and their first- and second-round selections have been put temporarily on hold.

Agents for those players and team negotiators are awaiting an arbitration ruling that will affect the way contracts for those players can be structured.

The case is scheduled to be heard today by Stephen Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania law professor who serves as the NFL's special master, putting him in charge of resolving disputes between the league and players' union arising from their collective bargaining agreement.

A ruling is expected quickly because of the effect that it will have on rookie negotiations, with teams now readying to report to training camps.

The complex case involves the rules governing how guaranteed money in players' contracts counts against the salary cap in seasons with and without a cap. That has become a significant issue because the NFL's franchise owners exercised a reopener clause in the labor deal that makes the 2009 season the final season in the collective bargaining agreement with a salary cap.

The impact of the case on contract negotiations for lower-round picks is not as great because those deals contain far less guaranteed money.

By Mark Maske |  July 18, 2008; 10:07 AM ET  | Category:  League
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Is there some reason why this hasn't been settled before today?

Posted by: talent evaluator | July 18, 2008 10:48 AM

Good question. The wheels of justice just turn slowly, I guess. Some negotiations are wrapping up, anyway. And you'll see others wrap up quickly once the decision is made by the special master. It doesn't really affect the amount of money the player gets, just the way the deal is structured.

Posted by: Mark Maske | July 18, 2008 1:30 PM

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