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Agent’s Take: Five players held back from receiving early contract extension due to rookie wage scale

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The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement drastically reduced salaries for early first-round picks by implementing a rookie wage scale. It also changed the timing for when draft picks could sign contract extensions. Draft pick contracts can’t be renegotiated until the conclusion of a player’s third NFL regular season. This means 2019 draftees like Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, who was the first overall pick, aren’t eligible to sign new deals until Jan. 10, 2022.

Prior to the 2011 CBA, draft picks could sign extensions after two NFL seasons. The 2010 draftees were the last group to get extremely early deals before the rule change. In 2012, the Patriots made 2010 second-round pick Rob Gronkowski and 2010 fourth-round pick Aaron Hernandez the NFL’s two highest-paid tight ends. Gronkowski and Hernandez signed six- and five-year extensions, respectively. Cardinals inside linebacker Daryl Washington, a 2010 second-round pick, signed a four-year extension right before the start of the 2012 regular season.

Antonio Brown, a 2010 sixth-round pick, was the beneficiary of the Steelers and restricted free agent Mike Wallace’s contract stalemate. Once there was a contract impasse with Wallace, the Steelers gave Brown a five-year extension. Brown had his first 1,000-receiving-yard season in 2010 as a second-year player.

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The 49ers made NaVorro Bowman, a 2010 third-round pick, one of the NFL’s five highest-paid inside linebackers during the middle of his third NFL season. Bowman signed a five-year extension.

Four-year deals in the first round, before the rookie wage scale was implemented, were virtually nonexistent. Most first-rounders got five-year deals, except quarterbacks selected early in the draft, such as Matthew Stafford in 2009 and Sam Bradford in 2010, who signed six-year contracts.

Several 2019 draftees who may have already gotten paid if still allowed have been identified based on team conventions and circumstances. First-round picks wouldn’t have reaped the benefit of the earlier paydays.

There wouldn’t have been any urgency for the Cardinals to reward Murray like Washington. Early first-round picks used to be paid like Pro Bowlers before playing a down in the NFL.

Bradford’s six-year contract as 2010’s first overall pick had a base value of $78 million where $50 million was fully guaranteed. He was the NFL’s 10th-highest-paid quarterback as a rookie. Stafford, 2009’s top pick, was the league’s eighth-highest-paid quarterback as a first-year player.

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A continuation of this trend where Murray had a similar place in the quarterback salary hierarchy would have put his six-year rookie contract in the $25-million to $27-million-per-year range. Instead, Murray signed a fully guaranteed four-year, $35,158,644 contract with the Cardinals having a fifth-year option for 2023, which surely will be exercised in the upcoming offseason.

The Raiders selected a player in the 2019 NFL Draft to consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It was expected to be fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell instead of a fourth-round pick.

Crosby easily leads the NFL with 66 quarterback pressures (combined sacks, quarterback hurries and quarterback hits), according to Pro Football Focus. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, the NFL’s third-highest-paid defensive player at $25 million per year, is second in the league with 54. Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt is the NFL’s highest-paid non-quarterback with the four-year, $112.011 million extension averaging $28,002,750 per year he signed as the regular season was about to begin. He has 28 quarterback pressures this season.

The Raiders demonstrated a willingness to pay highly productive younger players early in 2019. Tight end Darren Waller was given a new deal during that season when he had two years of service for free agency. He was going to be a restricted free agent in 2020. A second-round tender would have been likely. Waller signed through the 2023 season in which he gave up three unrestricted free agent years valued at $9,013,668 per year. 

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Similar contract timing, middle of the third season, may have occurred with Crosby because he has been a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks this year. There are 10 pass-rushers with contracts averaging at least $20 million per year. It may just be a matter of time before Crosby joins that club with the type of season he is having.

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The Seahawks gave wide receiver Tyler Lockett a four-year, $69.2 million extension averaging $17.3 million per year in early April. The deal has $37 million in guarantees, of which $21 million was fully guaranteed at signing. It may have been prudent for Seattle to address the contract inequity between Lockett and Metcalf sooner rather than later in a similar fashion since it would have been permissible. The 2019 second-round pick emerged as one of the NFL’s most dangerous receiving threats last season. Metcalf caught 83 passes for a franchise-record 1,303 yards with 10 touchdowns in 2020.

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Jenkins might have been the beneficiary of Green Bay’s contract stalemate with All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, who is in a contract year, and losing All-Pro center Corey Linsley in free agency. A new Jenkins deal might have also been a way to demonstrate offensive continuity to reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers during his offseason rift with the Packers.

Jenkins is one of the rare offensive linemen who can play any position on the offensive line. He earned Pro Bowl honors last season at left guard. Jenkins was playing left tackle at a Pro Bowl level filling in for David Bakhtiari, who has been recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, when he tore the ACL in his left knee during last Sunday’s 34-31 loss to the Vikings. It remains to be seen if the injury will change the actual timing on a new deal since 2022 is a contract year, and he may not return to action until the early to middle part of next season if Bakhtiari is any indication. Bakhtiari’s ACL tear occurred at the end of the 2020 regular season.

Jenkins was at a minimum set to become one of the NFL’s highest-paid offensive guards in the upcoming offseason. Joe Thuney sets this market with the five-year, $80 million contract with $46.89 million of guarantees he received from the Chiefs in free agency this year. The most recent data points in the offensive guard market are the extensions the Browns recently gave Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Bitonio’s three-year extension ties Thuney as the league’s highest-paid offensive guard at $16 million per year while Teller’s four-year extension is for $14.2 million per year. Jenkins would be justified in insisting on a premium because of his versatility.

Samuel couldn’t build upon an impressive 2019 debut campaign in 2020 because of an offseason left foot fracture and hamstring injuries. Since this season has been a different story, a midseason extension like Bowman’s wouldn’t have been out of the question. Samuel is having an All-Pro-caliber 2021 season. He is second in the NFL with 99.4 receiving yards per game and fourth with 18.1 yards per catch. His 525 yards after catch are the most in the NFL. The most lucrative wide receiver deal signed in 2021 belongs to Kenny Golladay. He received a four-year, $72 million contract worth a maximum of $76 million with incentives from the Giants in free agency. Samuel surely would have been looking to top this deal.

New England’s uncharacteristic free agency spending spree may have extended to one of their 2019 fifth-round picks. Bailey earned All-Pro honors in 2020 after leading the NFL with a 45.6 yard net punting average. The four-year extension averaging $2.9 million per year Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez, who was undrafted in 2017, signed in 2019 after his second NFL season would seem to be most applicable.

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Aaron Rodgers to the Jets? Giants' free agency options & Mike McCarthy's future with Cowboys | Ask Jay Glazer

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Jay Glazer discussed whether Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will head to the New York Jets, the New York Giants’ free agency options, and breaks down Mike McCarthy’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.



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Super Bowl LVII: Chiefs and Eagles will meet for title in Arizona

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Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. 

All he needed was a little shove.

Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game to make it back to the Super Bowl.

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Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. 

The Eagles opened as a 1 1/2-point favourite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his old team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. 

On top of that, there’s a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

“Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!! ” Jason Kelce tweeted immediately after the Chiefs won.

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The Chiefs have been making deep postseason runs on a regular basis ever since Mahomes came to town as the franchise quarterback. 

This was their fifth straight trip to the AFC title game and will be their third Super Bowl appearance in that span. They beat the 49ers for the NFL title in the 2019 season, but lost to the Bucs the following season.

The Eagles clobbered the Niners 31-7 in the NFC title game earlier Sunday. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

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Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018. 

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The Chiefs-Bengals game looked as if it was going to overtime before Ossai’s ill-advised play. Mahomes — who was playing on a badly sprained ankle — was running to get a first down in the final seconds as Ossai desperately tried to track him down. 

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Mahomes was out of bounds when Ossai gave him a shove, sending both players tumbling to the turf. The ensuing 15-yard penalty was enough to push Butker into field-goal range and the kick split the uprights.

A distraught Ossai sat on the bench with his head in his hands, well after the game was over.

The Bengals and Chiefs were playing for the fourth time in less than 400 days and Cincinnati had won the previous three meetings — all by three points. This one was decided by a field goal, too, and all Burrow could do was watch.

The Bengals lost to the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl and they just missed another chance at returning to the title game.

NO DRAMA IN NFC

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Oddsmakers thought fans were in for some close conference championship games. 

They’ll have to settle for a 50% success rate.

The NFC title game was a blowout. Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was injured in the first quarter when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered that fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.

With Purdy hurt, San Francisco turned to 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, who couldn’t do much before eventually leaving with a concussion. Purdy came back into the game, but could barely throw, and the Eagles cruised to the win.

The 49ers dealt with quarterback injuries all season, losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo before turning to Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State. Purdy stepped into a starter’s role in December and won his first seven games before Sunday’s injury. 

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Here’s a few things to know about the upcoming Super Bowl:

WHAT’S THE UPCOMING SCHEDULE?

FEB. 5

Pro Bowl flag-football game, 3 p.m. EST, ABC/ESPN

FEB. 12

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Super Bowl LVII, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST, Fox

RIHANNA AT HALFTIME

Rihanna will take center stage as the headline act for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her most recent album was 2016′s “Anti.” Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

The singer said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

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Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” 

PRO BOWL MAKEOVER

The Pro Bowl is getting a major makeover this year after the NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game and replaced it with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game.

The flag football contest is Feb. 5 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl.

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

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“The game was kind of silly, I guess,” Saints two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk said back in September when the news was announced. “Guys weren’t out there playing true football. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of interactions with the fans and guys will get their opportunity to go out there and show some skills. I could see that being a good change.”

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Ohio State hires James Laurinaitis & Tennessee extends Huepel's contract | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt discussed Ohio State Buckeyes hiring former linebacker James Laurinaitis as a defensive GA. Joel believes that Laurinaitis can help transform the defense into a powerhouse like the offense is for wide receivers. He then discussed the Tennessee Volunteers giving Josh Huepel a contract extension after their 11-win season.



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