One thing that has been weighing on my mind this offseason is the looming contract status of Josh Jacobs. No matter how much of a team player he is, there is no way his agent lets him play another down for the Raiders if he has another productive season in 2021.
This leaves the Raiders in a tough spot. Jacobs has proven to be a top RB in the league, but is he the type of player that you want to build the offense around? He does a lot of things really well, but he hasn't proven to be a transcendental talent. He's not really a threat to score from anywhere on the field anytime he touches the ball. They will also have a decision to make with Derek, which further complicates matters. It may be difficult to make both among the highest paid at their positions.
With that said, the rookie pay scale needs some serious revision. Players in high-impact positions that come into the league and perform well are unfairly compensated. By the time they are due an extension, it's really not in the team's best interest to pay them. Sure, the Raiders can feel good about giving Kolton Miller an extension after three years, as there is every reason to believe he will continue to play at a high level for years to come. But Jacobs? You can make a strong argument that it would not be good business to sign him to a mega-extension, given the short shelf life of running backs. While the Drake signing was likely just Gruden wanting his 1A and 1B, it can also be viewed as a bit of a defensive signing in the event that this holdout gets ugly.
While I am no salary cap or collective bargaining guru, and I am sure there are all kinds of holes with the following proposal that make it unfeasible, I would like to see a new system for handling rookie contracts. This way, players who come into the league and perform are compensated more fairly, while busts aren't able to get rich and fade into oblivion off of their rookie payday. Here are some of the rough ideas for my proposal:
- All drafted rookies enter the league on the same 2-year deal.
- At the end of the player's second season, a negotiation period begins between the player and the team. Extensions can be signed for any agreed upon length or terms.
- If no agreement is reached at the end of the negotiation period, a restricted free agency period begins. The drafted player may sign an offer with any team, for any length or amount. The drafting team may match the offer, but if they choose not to match, they will receive a compensatory pick from the signing team equal to the round the player was originally drafted.
- If no teams make an offer during the restricted free agency period, the rights to the player remain with the team by whom they were originally drafted. The team then has the option to A) continue negotiating with the player indefinitely, B) trade his rights to another team, or C) release the player outright.