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Khalil Mack holdout shows flaw in NFL rookie wage scale

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL needed a rookie wage scale, there is no doubt about it. The contracts that were being shelled out for players that never played a down in the league were astronomical and the holdouts by rookies were extremely detrimental to their own development as players. Wondering when or even if your first round pick was going to arrive for training camp was the norm.

For those reasons the rookie wage scale is a necessity, Raiders fans need look no further than JaMarcus Russell to see it’s value. However, few major system overhauls are done without some kinks to iron out. The kink in the wage scale is starting to show, and it is the 5th year option. The rookie wage scale is needed, but it should not last 5 years and the players union never should have allowed it to.

If you don’t know how good an athlete is after 4 years in the league then you don’t deserve to be a general manager in the NFL. There shouldn’t be one more year on these under market value contracts for the best players picked in the draft, and if a player hasn’t proven himself by the 5th year option then it’s still time for contract negotiations just like other mediocre free agents. If the player sucks the team gets to cut ties but if a player is good they get held for pennies on the dollar.

Khalil Mack’s hold out will be the face of this issue just as JaMarcus Russell is the face for the need of the rookie wage scale. Mack has outperformed his contract to a ridiculous level and should not be forced to risk his one for sure league high deal to play on a contract that is 2/3 of what he should be getting paid.

I’d hold out too in Mack’s position, and I wouldn’t even speed walk for the team til a new market setting deal was in place. He shouldn’t be in this position where he is negotiating for an extension on a severely below market value deal at the age of 27. He already has earned his money, and he shouldn’t be being forced to play another year just to get to his franchise tag battles.

If he is franchise tagged two years in a row then he will be 29 before he even gets his first market value, long term deal. The rookie wage scale was needed but that’s just highway robbery. He deserves the safety of a long term deal in a league he has dominated that is known for being one play away from career ending injuries.

This is getting ugly for the Raiders already, and it will get ugly for the NFL in general when the next CBA is negotiated for. The 5th year option is unfair to players and unnecessary for owners except for a way to hold great players hostage to extremely sub par deals. The flaw to the system has been found and it will be a vicious battle to remove it.

In the mean time, Raider Nation waits for their star defender to return because of a flaw that shouldn’t even exist. The Franchise Tag is already the safety net for teams that can’t get their best players to sign extensions, the 5th year option is just greed.