The end of the 2011 NFL Lockout means teams will soon be allowed to start signing their 2011 NFL Draft class. While free agency signings and trades will be what makes the news headlines, the rookie signings will make news for a different reason. For the first time, the NFL has instituted a rookie wage scale, which will impact the contracts of just about every rookie in some way or another. The higher end rookies are the ones taking the biggest hit as the scale cuts some contracts down by as much as 50%.
The new collective bargaining agreement will provide for $874 million in overall compensation for rookies in 2011, increasing with the cap. The contracts will need to be four years in length with an team option fifth year for first round picks. Second through seventh round picks get straight four year contracts and undrafted rookies can sign three year deals.
For the first round picks, the option year has to be exercised after the third year and is guaranteed for injury when exercised and for and injury if the player is on the roster at the start of the fifth season. For top ten picks, the option year is the salary of the average of the top ten players at the players' position. For the 49ers, that means seventh overall pick Aldon Smith would fall in this category.
The changes to the rookie salary system should cut down on the number of holdouts we see before the start of the season. The 49ers will have the opportunity to start signing their rookies Tuesday morning at 7am pacific time. They can also sign rookie free agents at that point as well. Here are the 49ers ten draft picks:
Rd 1, Pick 7 Aldon Smith, OLB
Rd 2, Pick 4: Colin Kaepernick, QB
Rd 3, Pick 16: Chris Culliver, DB
Rd 4, Pick 18: Kendall Hunter, RB
Rd 5, Pick 32: Daniel Kilgore, OL
Rd 6, Pick 17: Ronald Johnson, WR
Rd 6, Pick 25: Colin Jones, S
Rd 7, Pick 8: Bruce Miller, FB/LB
Rd 7, Pick 36: Michael Person, OL
Rd 7, Pick 47: Curtis Holcomb, DB