## Players On Rookie Contracts Contribute Half of All NFL Value

Yesterday, I wrote that NFL rookies were screwed by the CBA negotiated in 2011. Today, some more data on that point.

Using the Approximate Value metric created by PFR, we can calculate what percentage of league-wide AV belongs to each class of players. For example, rookies typically provide just over 10% of all AV in any given season; before the new CBA, that number was just under 10%. And when you combine rookies with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year players, those players are responsible for just about half of all NFL value. Given that some 5th year players are also on their rookie contracts, it’s safe to say that about half (if not more) of all AV is provided by players on their rookie contracts.

The graph below shows, in a blue line, the percent of AV provided by players in their first four seasons.  The orange line shows the percent of league-wide AV provided by rookies.

We don’t see an enormous switch post-2011 from vetearns to rookies, just a slight one. Players in their first three seasons produced 33% of all AV from 2006-2010, which jumped to 36% over the last five years. But the bigger point is just that football is, and has always been, a young man’s game.

• Frank Yi

Isn’t that slight boost just kind of indicative of how strong the 2011 draft class was?

Additionally, what is with the break in the graph around 86-87?

• Richie

I assume the break is due to replacement players in 1987.

• Correct.

• McGeorge

What is the solution?
How would you suggest changing the CBA?
Rookies can go free agent after 3 years instead of 4?

• Richie

I would be interested to see what would happen if the draft were eliminated altogether, and the pre-set rookie salary scale were eliminated.

One of the problems with the old system was that if you were the first overall pick, you pretty much could expect to make a little more than the first overall pick got the year before.

If there was no draft, and instead the “best” player went to the team that offered the best contract, maybe you don’t get as many bad contracts. Just because the best rookie last year got a \$Y contract, doesn’t mean that the best rookie this year will get a \$Y + n contract. Instead, teams may collectively decide that this year’s top prospect isn’t as good as last year, so he gets a \$Y – n contract.

• McGeorge

I don’t like this at all. The bad teams would stay bad, the good ones would stay good. The good QB prospects would probably leave a little on the table not to be stuck with a crap team.

• Richie

Using this year as an example – where do you think Mitch Trubisky, Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson might have ended up to avoid being on a bad team, and do you think that would have been less money for them?

• McGeorge

None of those guys is really a highly rated prospect. I think the Bears (and their GM) were desperate. I think they would take what they could get from any team and not be picky.
Trubisky had 1 year as a starter. If he had 2-3 years as a starter with 2 very good years then I’d consider him a better prospect.

Andrew Luck could have been pick. If Sam Darnold has another very good year, he could be picky.