Sports

A Boycott Of NFL Scouting Combine?

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Major Wright at NFL Combine

Major Wright at NFL Combine (photo credit: Getty Images)

MIAMI (CBS) – Some kind of protest – possibly even a boycott – might accompany the NFL scouting combine later this month, according to a published report.

Citing unnamed sources, Yahoo Sports reported Monday morning that a boycott of the scouting combine is “a long shot, at best,” but there is growing momentum for a protest of some kind. The catalyst is frustration from the players’ union and agents over the NFL’s hard-line offers in the slotting of rookie contracts, Yahoo News reported.

NFL team owners’ plans for a rookie wage scale are a key issue in the ongoing dispute with players and agents.

The rookie wage scale proposed by the owners would cover a five-year period. Many players and their representatives say that translates into a veteran wage scale, too, by limiting earnings for players whose average career is less than five years.

Besides, agent Peter Schaffer said in an e-mail to The Associated Press, a rookie wage scale would not really help NFL owners’ spending concerns, and it would damage college football by causing a rush of underclassmen turning pro earlier so they could get to free agency quicker.

“The reality is that the current NFL draft system in its entirety is a tremendous economic windfall to the NFL teams,” Schaffer said, “as it provides a large source of cheap, young labor to the league signed for contracts exceeding four years.

That’s not true for the highest picks in the draft – Rams quarterback Sam Bradford signed a deal with $50 million guaranteed as the top selection last year. But, as agent Joe Linta mentions, the extremely lucrative contracts go to a dozen or fewer rookies.

Devin McCourty, selected 27th overall last April, received $10 million over five years, which Schaffer said was not in the top 60 for cornerbacks. McCourty started for New England and made the Pro Bowl.

Eugene Parker, who has Ndamukong Suh, the Defensive Rookie of the Year, among his clients, sees a rookie wage scale as an incentive for agents to potentially not represent players coming out of college.

“It could be a scenario like basketball where the salaries are fixed and there really is little negotiating room for the agent up front,” Parker told Sirius NFL Radio on Friday, “and if that is the case you will see more and more agents focusing on the vet players than on the rookie players.”

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