Rookie cap could lead to more draft deals

One area of common ground between the league and NFLPA appears to be the desire for the new collective bargaining agreement to contain language regarding a rookie salary cap. In the past, teams -- including the Bears -- dreaded the prospects of picking in the top 10 of the draft because of the guaranteed money paid out to those rookies before they ever stepped on an NFL field.

But since a rookie salary cap seems inevitable, the days of paying top picks like Sam Bradford $50 million in guarantees are probably over for owners and general managers across the league. Because the price of high first-round selections is expected to go down, it could encourage teams to be more aggressive and attempt to trade up to grab a player in the upcoming draft.

Under general manager Jerry Angelo, the Bears have been active on draft day, but they generally trade down and stockpile more picks in the mid to later rounds.

Although the Bears probably will stay put at No. 29, at least the waters won't be as treacherous from a salary standpoint if Angelo considers moving up the draft board.

"I think what really hurts those teams in top is that [guaranteed money]," Angelo said over the weekend at the NFL combine. "Nobody wants to get in there [the top 10] for that reason. Unfortunately, the system that was to reward those teams that didn't have good seasons, has become a bit of curse, if the player really isn't looked at as a marquee player. That's hard. How many marquee players are there in any given draft?

"I think everybody kind of gets that, and we want to get it back to the original spirit of why we have the draft set up the way it's structured. Those teams at the top [should not be] cursed with the salaries, particularly if the player doesn't work out."

Angelo speaks from experience. The Bears, after all, took Cedric Benson with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft.