Never mind the no deal option that is part of television's new favorite catch-phrase.
During last weekend's NFL draft, Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson was all about the art of the deal, maneuvering his way through four trades on Saturday, including the one that sent disgruntled wide receiver Javon Walker to the Denver Broncos, and another swap on Sunday afternoon.
The draft board bargaining netted Thompson and the Packers, who consummated three trades in a frenetic 20-minute stretch of the second round alone, a league-high 12 selections after starting the lottery with only seven choices. Thompson's machinations turned an original three first-day selections into five picks in the opening three rounds -- one in the first round and two each in the second and third stanzas.
And the staggering Green Bay draft bounty has now turned into the league's biggest rookie allocation pool for 2006.
Green Bay has a rookie pool of $6.647 million, slightly more than the New York Jets, who at $6.63 million also earned one of the largest allocations in league history. Their rookie pools are nearly 60 percent higher than the league average of $4.168 million. Then again, with 22 choices to sign between the two franchises, the Packers and Jets have a lot more work to do.
"We've got more people to sign," Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, stating the obvious.
And the Packers have more money with which to sign them. The allocation of $6.647 million is roughly $500,000 more than San Francisco, awarded the highest rookie allocation in 2005, received last spring. The 49ers had the top pick in the draft last season, along with 10 other selections. Green Bay's allocation was boosted not only by having exercised more choices than any franchise in the league this year, but also by the selection of Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk with the fifth overall pick in the draft.
The rookie pool is essentially a cap within a cap. It represents the maximum that a team can spend, in terms of salary cap room, to sign its draft choices and undrafted college free agents. A team's rookie allocation is part of, not in addition to, its overall spending limit. The cap ceiling for 2006 is $102 million per team, so the Green Bay rookie pool represents 6.5 percent of that.
Green Bay is approximately $12.4 million under the cap limit.
The formula for deriving each team's rookie pool is regarded as Byzantine even by the most astute team officials, and is basically a function of how many overall choices a franchise makes and where those picks are slotted in each round. The Packers had top five choices in just two of seven rounds and top seven picks in only three rounds. But for all his moving up and down the draft order, Thompson rarely dropped below the top half of any stanza. That element, and the sheer volume of selections, created the lofty rookie pool allocation for the Packers.
The large allocations awarded the Jets, San Francisco ($5.646 million) and Buffalo ($5.366 million) were indicative of the fact those were the three franchises with multiple first-round selections.
In all, there were eight teams this year that amassed 10 or more selections each and, of that group, only the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Bucs ranked outside of the top 10 in rookie allocation funds. There are seven teams with rookie pools of $5 million or more and 14 franchises were awarded allocations higher than the league average of $4.168 million.
The Atlanta Falcons, who exercised a league-low five choices and did not have a first-round selection, were awarded the lowest allocation, just $2.069 million. Four other teams received pools of less than $3 million.
From a leaguewide standpoint, the total allocation of $133.38 million is an all-time high and it represents a 5 percent bump from the 2005 pool, with that rate of increase holding steady for the past two years. Before that, the rookie pool had been fairly "flat," with increases of just 2 percent.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.