What Can the Chiefs Expect to Pay Their Rookies?

Tyson Jackson will undoubtedly get less money than last year's #3 pick Matt Ryan did. (via www.tampabay.com)

Note: Primetime got these numbers together and I added the write up.

When Carl Peterson was the Kansas City Chiefs GM (and president, overlord, etc.), the topic of rookie contracts always seemed to be a sore spot for many fans. Many of us were absolutely convinced that Carl Peterson was the worst contract negotiator of all time. And he was pretty bad in some of those second contract negotiations. But I have to give credit where credit is due. Peterson didn't do a terrible job of getting the Chiefs' top rookies into training camp on time.

The truth, however, is something quite different. Over the most recent five-year period of signing first-round picks (2003-07), the Chiefs rank in the middle of the league when it comes to getting their first choice signed. They are neither the team that is the earliest of signers or the latest. They aren’t even close to being the team that suffers the most first round holdouts.

I know certain holdouts loom large in our minds as fans but Gretz has a point on that too:

The facts in this debate no longer matter to the Chiefs/Carl Peterson Haters. For every John Tait (September 9th signing) they throw out, they forget to mention Dale Carter (signed on June 1st). For every Ryan Sims (August 28th signing), there was a Victor Riley (signed on July 2). The Chiefs have not been the best or the worst team at getting contracts for their first-round picks. They are pretty average.

To tie this all back around to Scott Pioli, Bob Gretz's numbers show that the Patriots, from 2003 to 2007 at least, were one of the quicker teams to get their top rookies signed.

Finally, before we jump into the previous year's salary numbers, I wanted to mention the rookie salary pool. It's basically a salary cap within the salary cap which is supposed to in theory limit rookie contracts and even the playing field a bit between team and player. The pool only factors in first year money. Does it work?

Even though agents and teams get around the rookie pool with contract escalators, post first-year option bonuses and one-time incentives, the rookie pool was created to somehow slot the signings of draft choices by the position they were selected. Each selection in the draft is given a value, which is a predetermined cap number. All rookies, including undrafted rookies, have to fit within the assigned rookie pool.

Nope, it doesn't work. That's why people are still complaining about limiting rookie contracts. The rookie pool was supposed to do that but agents have found creative ways around it, like they do with every salary cap issue. The Chiefs rookie pool number is here. Some of this debate about the rookie pool turns on whether or not the 2010 season will be an uncapped season. If you want to read about the ramifications of an uncapped 2010 NFL season, check it out. I don't have the cap acumen to explain how it all works right now but if someone does, please chime in.

So what kind of money will the Chiefs and their draft picks be haggling over? These 2008 numbers will come into play during those contract negotiations.

QB Matt Ryan - #3 Falcons (Chiefs pick: DE Tyson Jackson)

5/20/2008: Signed a six-year, $66 million contract. The deal contains $34.75 million guaranteed, including a $7.45 million "log" bonus and a $2.505 million roster bonus in the first year. There was no signing bonus. Another $6 million is available through incentives. 2009: $3.5 million, 2010: $4.2 million, 2011: $4.9 million, 2012: $5.6 million, 2013: $6.3 million, 2014: Free Agent

When it comes to NFL contracts, the only money I look at is the guaranteed money. To me, that's the only number that truly matters. Teams will end up re-negotiating players' contracts later in their career to satisfy the always malleable salary cap. Salaries will change. Cap hits will change. But unless you're a screw up like Larry Johnson, you're going to get that guaranteed money no matter what.

QB Matt Stafford, the #1 overall pick this year, received $41.7 million in guaranteed money. Naturally, Tyson Jackson will not receive this much and almost assuredly will not receive what quarterback Matt Ryan did last year. Defensive end is less valuable than a quarterback and not even an extra year of rookie salary inflation will allow Jackson's contract to top Ryan's.

Here are the rest of the numbers.

CB Charles Godfrey - #67 Panthers (Chiefs pick: DL Alex Magee)

  • 7/21/2008: Signed a four-year, $2.559 million contract. The deal included an $854,000 signing bonus. 2009: $385,000, 2010: $470,000, 2011: $555,000, 2012: Free Agent

DE Jeremy Thompson - #102 Packers (Chiefs pick: CB Donald Washington)

  • 7/25/2008: Signed a four-year, $2.206 million contract. The deal included a $501,200 signing bonus. A $1.194 million escalator is available in the final year. 2009: $385,000, 2010: $470,000, 2011: $555,000, 2012: Free Agent

RB Ryan Torain - #139 Broncos (Chiefs pick: OT Colin Brown)

  • 7/9/2008: Signed four-year, $1.903 million contract. The deal included a $198,000 signing bonus. 2009: $385,000, 2010: $470,000, 2011: $555,000, 2012: Free Agent

LB Geno Hayes - #175 Bucs (Chiefs pick: WR/KR Quinten Lawrence)

  • 6/21/2008: Signed a four-year contract. 2009: $385,000, 2010: $470,000, 2011: $555,000, 2012: Free Agent

CB Wilrey Fontenot - #212 Falcons

*Salary not available.  2009 - #310,000

Player selected before - RB Chauncey Washington (Chiefs pick: RB Javarris Wiliams)

  • 6/26/2008: Signed a four-year, $1.765 million contract. The deal included a $60,000 signing bonus. 2009: $385,000, 2010: $470,000, 2011: $555,000, 2012: Free Agent

WR Adrian Arrington - #237 Saints (Chiefs pick: TE Jake O'Connel)

  • 7/18/2008: Signed a three-year, $1.170 million contract. The deal included a $20,000 signing bonus. 2009: $385,000, 2010: $470,000, 2011: Restricted Free Agent

LB David Vobora - #252 (no 256 that year) Rams (Chiefs pick: K Ryan Succop)

  • 2009: $385,000, 2010: Exclusive Rights Free Agent

And for those wondering about how much undrafted free agents get in bonuses, it's only a few thousands bucks.

Chime in this morning on rookie contracts, the rookie salary pool and an uncapped 2010 season.

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