Mawae: Big rookie contracts like Ryan's 'disheartening'

NFL Players Association president Kevin Mawae isn't a fan of big rookie contracts.

On "The Herd" on ESPN Radio on Wednesday, Mawae, the Tennessee Titans center, commented on quarterback Matt Ryan signing a record-setting contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

"As a guy who has been in the league for 14 now going on 15 years and being around other veteran guys, for a young guy to get paid that kind of money and never steps foot on an NFL football field, it's a little disheartening to think of," Mawae said. "It makes it tough for a guy who's proven himself to say 'I want that kind of money' when the owners, all they're going to say is, 'Well, you weren't a first-round pick.'

"And I know there is sentiment around the league amongst the players like, 'Let's do something to control these salaries and control these signing bonuses' and things like that, and I know that's something that the owners are talking about and I'm sure that's going to play into this round of negotiations for this collective bargaining agreement," he said.

Ryan became the second top draft choice to sign when he accepted a six-year, $72 million contract that included $34.75 million in guarantees. Less than a week before the draft, tackle Jake Long signed a five-year, $57.75 million deal with the Miami Dolphins.

Dolphins kicker Jay Feely was also on the show and echoed Mawae's sentiments, saying veteran players don't believe rookies should be "paid more than Tom Brady or be paid more than Peyton Manning" on their first contract.

"After three or four years if they come in and prove something, then they get that big contract," Feely said. "The reality is it does a couple of different things. If you get the wrong kind of guy, it can skew the dynamics in the locker room. You get a guy who doesn't work hard, that doesn't have an internal desire to be great, and he gets that kind of money and he doesn't care what anybody says. He's not going to listen to the veterans' leadership in the locker room. He can be and say whatever he wants to do, and he can come into that locker room and not listen to anybody because he got paid $30 million guaranteed. It takes away some guys' motivation.

"I think that football is such a physical game, that if you don't have that kind of motivation, especially with young guys -- I was talking to a veteran guy last night, and we talked about how that can … we're setting a lot of those young guys coming out of college, we're setting them up for failure and we're worried about guys like Pacman Jones and the trouble they get in, but when you continue to give huge enormous contracts like that to guys that may not be ready for it as well as the different dynamics in the locker room, I think it's a system that needs to be fixed," Feely said.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton was used in this report.