We don’t know all the details of the proposed rookie salary system and that’s mainly because the owners and players haven’t finalized a new labor deal yet.
But we do have enough information of what’s being talked about to at least make an educated guess at what Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, can expect to haul in.
The bottom line is Newton’s going to make some serious money, but it won’t be as much as Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford, the last two No. 1 overall picks, got. Last year, Bradford got a six-year deal worth $78 million that could jump to as much as $86 million and $50 million of that was guaranteed.
In 2009, Stafford got a six-year deal worth $72 million and $41.7 million of that was guaranteed. One of the few points both the owners and the players agreed upon long ago was that it wasn’t fair for rookies to come in and immediately make more than some of the top players. That’s why the new deal is likely to include lots of changes to rookie contracts and it’s going to cost Newton some money -- at least compared to Stafford and Bradford.
Per John Clayton, the way the talks currently are heading Newton can expect about $22 million over four years. The sides are still negotiating how fifth years will be handled. There’s talk of making the fifth season an option year for first-round picks and Clayton reports there’s talk of a limit on the fifth-year salary, although that could fluctuate a bit depending on where a player was taken in the first round.
Clayton estimates the high end for Newton is probably somewhere around $34 million to $36 million over five years. The other uncertain point is what kind of signing bonus Newton can expect. The Rams structured Bradford’s contract so there wasn’t an official signing bonus, but he more than made up for it with an option bonus of just under $18 million. All the new rules remain to be seen, but Carolina sources are estimating they’ll have to pay Newton a signing bonus somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million to $14 million.