NFL Lockout: Rookie cap could cost Julio Jones millions

110604 Buford - Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones prepares to grab the football in front of Brent Grimes during the Atlanta Falcons player workout at Buford Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. A core of Falcons players are carrying on with off-season practices at the park, despite the NFL lockout. Johnny Crawford

110604 Buford - Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones prepares to grab the football in front of Brent Grimes during the Atlanta Falcons player workout at Buford Park on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. A core of Falcons players are carrying on with off-season practices at the park, despite the NFL lockout. Johnny Crawford

Buford – Falcons rookie Julio Jones is not too worried about possibly losing millions if a rookie salary cap is implemented in the new collective bargaining agreement.

“I love football,” said Jones after practice on Wednesday. “It plays a part, but at the same time I can’t worry about that. It’s out of my hands. The best thing I can do is come out here and play football.”

Last season, Seattle selected Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick. He signed a six-year contract that was worth $48.5 million. A total of $30 million of the deal was guaranteed.

During the labor negotiations both sides have generally agreed that money going to unproven rookies should be shifted to proven veterans. It’s difficult to determine just how much guaranteed money that Jones will miss out on or have to earn as a veteran.

However, it’s unlikely that he’ll receive anything near the $30 million guaranteed on his first contract under a new deal.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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55 comments Add your comment

Ben Gunby

June 24th, 2011
7:32 am

I wonder if a rookie cap will also limit the number of guys coming out early, such as those mid to late first rounders

Unca' Bob

June 24th, 2011
7:33 am

Enter your comments here


June 24th, 2011
7:44 am

I’m sure Julio will still receive quite the payday. This kid sounds like as long as he lives comfortably and is playing football he’ll be happy.


June 24th, 2011
7:49 am

He shouldn’t!

This should be a reward versus entitlement system based on a draft selection number and he needs to first earn this rare and life altering reward.

Who on this blog was given a large amount of guaranteed money and a 5 year contract at the start of your career?


June 24th, 2011
7:51 am

Probably not! I just wish something like a salary cap could have kept Travis Leslie in school. More of these guys need to learn that a degree is a better path to riches than an early jump into the NBA. The NFL has more players and so more will be payed to play. But most second rounders don’t last beyond the first year, if that long, in the NBA.

just sayin'

June 24th, 2011
8:07 am

larry…these guys have been ‘entitled’ their whole lives…just because they excel in an athletic environment where they were usually the big fish in a small pond….now they will be in a ‘professional’, performance based environment where they’re no longer the biggest fish…they should have to prove their worth..

KC in Smyrna

June 24th, 2011
8:12 am

On Travis Leslie, the NBA is but one stop for professional basketball. There are leagues all over the globe. While a much smaller salary, one can do quite well playing basketball abroad.


June 24th, 2011
8:15 am

The rookie pay scale has been out whack for years. Unproven players drafted high have been making more than veterans who have made the Pro Bowl. Should you pay a Stafford or a Bradford more than a Brady? If you get a Ryan in the top few picks you win. If you get a J. Anderson, you hurt the whole team. With 4 year FAs, the job the GM does in that market becomes more important than what he does in the draft. With the excessive amount of FAs that will hit the market when we get a CBA, how each team spends their $ will make or break the team. Remember we have a $20 mil roster bonus owed Ryan that will limit what we can otherwise spend. I do not think we have a lot of cap $ this year to take advantage of the situation. DLed?


June 24th, 2011
8:26 am

I’ve always thought that athletes should be paid for performance NOT future potential. make them earn the $$$ by being productive on the field. too many get a big guaranteed contract and they flop. give them a one year contract based on their performance from last season or a reasonable base pay plus incentives to earn more. that way they will have to keep producing or get a pay cut!!


June 24th, 2011
8:30 am

You goobers act like it is the player’s fault these type contracts are given out. What do you want these guys to do, play the game for fun.


June 24th, 2011
8:36 am

I wonder what the late round picks are doing for money during the lockout.


June 24th, 2011
8:42 am

he and all the juniors that left school early knew there was a possibility of this happening. they shouldn’t be surprised.

D man

June 24th, 2011
8:42 am

Ben Gunby – Thanks for not saying “first”
I believe that rookies should have to prove themselves before they get the big time money. Look at all of the failures who didn’t make it like Ryan leaf, the Oakland QB I forgot his name, not to mention all of the Falcon first choices who didn’t pan out. If they have to earn it first then maybe they play harder. Just sayin…

[...] football,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It plays a part, but at the same time I can’t worry about that. It’s out of my hands. The best thing I can do is come out here and play [...]


June 24th, 2011
8:45 am

These huge salaries for unproven rookies is the work of the UNIONS. This kind of business is why most Americans look ill toward unions. Dont be surprised if the NFL moves to Europe. The NFL is about money after all.


June 24th, 2011
8:45 am

Ben Gunby,

I doubt it will prevent mid to late rounders from coming out early, just for the fact they will still be getting paid. Now, they maye work a lot harder to prove themselves, but I still think the number of underclassmen would stay about the same.


June 24th, 2011
8:54 am

Like Jeff Van Note once said, “Potential…. Ain’t that one of those French words that means you haven’t done $#!+, yet?”

Shaye Breed

June 24th, 2011
9:07 am

The out-of-whack rookie pay is *everyone’s* fault: unions, agents, players, and of course owners who are willing to shell out big bucks to take a big risk. I do think instituting some sort of cap is a good idea. I love Julio and absolutely cannot wait to see what he does with the Falcons, and I’m glad he isn’t sounding off like some prima donna.

As for the NFL moving to Europe… har har. They are not exactly American football fans there. Hell, I couldn’t even watch the Super Bowl on TV when I was there last year because I wasn’t in Germany or the UK.

I just want them to reach some agreement that no one’s super happy with–those tend to be the most fair. :P


June 24th, 2011
9:16 am

1st 8:45, is a pretty stupid comment. Must be a joke. haha.


June 24th, 2011
9:38 am

He’s going to be a millionaire football player no matter how this works out so I don’t feel bad for him at all.


June 24th, 2011
9:42 am

Mike @ 0830,

Why of course. Don’t you hear it everyday? “Hail, I’d play for nuttin! These azzwholes should thank their lucky stars they git to play it fer money!”


June 24th, 2011
9:45 am

I’m LOL at ezra’s “union” and “NFL moves to europe” becuz of it comment. It seems that he’s not too familiar with european employment practices. The governments in many european nations acts as a union for the employees so they don’t need to have unions. Europe is the last place a company solely driven by profits would seek to be based.


June 24th, 2011
9:54 am

Great response by Jones. That’s the type of players I want the Falcons to have.


June 24th, 2011
9:57 am


June 24th, 2011
10:20 am

With the talent and work ethic Jones reportedly has, he won’t, barring injury, be “penniless” for long. They guy just wants to win….The Falcons can use several more with that attitude.


June 24th, 2011
10:28 am

Just as us commoners have to earn our $…so should pro atheletes…all of them! baseball, football bball hockey all of um….


June 24th, 2011
10:30 am

Finally, this won’t punish teams, fans and the other players so much for one bad draft pick. A Harvard grad probably should make a lot more than a community school grad, but not more than the CEO.


June 24th, 2011
10:56 am

GUNGA DIN: “I’ve always thought that athletes should be paid for performance NOT future potential.”

Yea….anyone out there aware of a good, high salaried job with all travel and medical expenses paid that will pay me for my “potential” and give me a big signing bonus and guarantee before my first day on the job?



June 24th, 2011
11:04 am

I remember getting my first multi-million dollar contract after I spent 4 years taking up space at the university (without graduating). I remember Kroger had to raise prices on everything just to hire me. Man, those were the days. However, I guess workers in my generation broke the bank. Now, my son got a job at Kroger and only gets $8 an hour. They busted the Retail Clerks International Union big time. I guess the NFL is headed to that kind of “salary cap.” Minimum wage to practice, and overtime if they actually get in the game. Darn it all. I bet the teams have to lower prices too.


June 24th, 2011
11:14 am

we need a cap so proven vets can get what they earn in this league. let the rooks earn it and they will still get a pay day down the road.


June 24th, 2011
11:42 am

This year rookies are under the old CBA, that’s why a lot of underclassmen came out this year because they feared the scale under the not yet new CBA.


June 24th, 2011
11:53 am

Seems most are in agreement. Owners, vet players and fans think there should be a cap on the rookies. Let them prove themselves then they will get the big contracts. You can use some of that money for all the things the players assoc. want.


June 24th, 2011
12:40 pm

This guy says all of the right things!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gonna be a good pro!


June 24th, 2011
12:40 pm

Julio Jones is still going to be a multi-millionaire, regardless of what happens in the new CBA. The fact of the matter is that his stock was as high as it was going to be, so he came out at the right time. Had he returned for his senior season & risked injury/increased focus on him, etc. who knows what would have happened. And he would still have come out under the new CBA, potentially not as high as pick as he was this year (so even less money).

[...] football,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It plays a part, but at the same time I can’t worry about that. It’s out of my hands. The best thing I can do is come out here and play [...]

True Falcon Fan

June 24th, 2011
12:54 pm

Folks this is called a “Market Correction”, mainly to help the veterans & retiree’s. Also those teams that are losing their A$$’S, it’s designed to help them bring in players i.e., parity and sell game day tickets!
Too bad for Julio – if he had been drafted last year 2010 he would have gotten his 30mil. & would not be a Falcon. But he didn’t, so he’s got to earn it the ole fashion way “WORK HARD” – if Julio stays healthy & plays like a “SUPERSTAR” the Falcons will pay him alot more $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ in 4-6 years. So good luck to you Julio Jones, I hope you play your A$$ off – cause that means the Falcons may jus win a SB or 2 or 3, now wouldn’t that be nice…………..

Go Falcons


June 24th, 2011
1:14 pm

Everyone that came out early this year should have known there was a good chance of a rookie camp. Don’t you think the Falcon’s considered this also when trading up– more value for a high pick. Nobody should have been naive here.


June 24th, 2011
1:15 pm

That should be rookie cap, as in salary.

True Falcon Fan

June 24th, 2011
1:16 pm

Great point GP

Native Georgian

June 24th, 2011
1:22 pm

Rookie salary cap is a start. Now let’s cap the veterans & owners too and then the fans can finally win a round.


June 24th, 2011
1:30 pm

Even with a rookie salary cap you can be sure the rookies will be paid a ample salary- One or two mil per year. minimum.

Giving Away Our Country

June 24th, 2011
2:39 pm

OH NO, you mean to tell me that you can’t just come out of college and instantly become a multi-millionaire? For shame, NFL, for shame…

Nobody playing football, basketball, baseball etc, should ever make more than 1 million a year in my freaking opinion.

Brain Trust

June 24th, 2011
3:14 pm

Apparently you failed free market enteprise in school and also the study of the law of supply and demand. Only a socialist would try to set a limit on anyones salary. The free market is designed to and will work out it’s own problems if left alone without intervention from you or the government.


June 24th, 2011
3:21 pm

You guys are missing the important part of this post. Julio has been a class-act this entire offseason. I have no doubt he will come out and prove himself.

The “Falcon filter” will pay dividends soon. We have a really nice group with these young guys.
Just imagine for a second, the difference in attitute and work so far between Julio and the guy a lot of yall wanted last year, Dez Bryant.

True Falcon Fan

June 24th, 2011
4:17 pm

Tell me what does “Falcon filter” mean, stated as in they will pay dividends soon?

As for Dez Bryant, he hasn’t proven anything yet while as a Dallas Cowboy!

That said, in my opinion ALL the Falcons fans will very happy with Julio Jones along side #84 plus all the other WR’s on the team. Julio Jones is not only a better player than Dez Bryant, Julio Jones is a “BETTER” person!


June 24th, 2011
6:28 pm

A rookie pay scale is necessary for the long term health of the game.
It doesn’t matter whose fault the contract situation might be…it is still upside down.
Rookies are a big risk and often a waste of money that could help veterans and retirees.


June 25th, 2011
1:01 pm

Good. If there is a work stoppage he should go back to school and get his degree. It’s a sad commentary to see all of these guys leaving school early without a college degree and being celebrated.

True Falcon Fan

June 25th, 2011
5:21 pm

@Ted, do you enjoy watching NFL football? Or maybe I should ask the question this way “are you a fan of NFL football”?


June 25th, 2011
5:39 pm

if plays up to where he was drafted he will get PAID so just do it!!!


June 25th, 2011
11:22 pm

Ezra, atheletes are entertainers, they are paid like any other skilled producers. Rush Limbough makes upward of $40 million a year. Oprah makes $200 Million per year. Jim Carrey won’t talk about a movie for less than $20m per picture. NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL players are compensated based on supply and demand for their services.
The “Unions” are not so much responsible for rookies’ salaries being out of wack as is the owners. The Union want higher salaries for veteran players. The veterans are in favor of a rookie salary cap. The rookies who pan out, will eventually become veterans and thus obtain the full value of the fruits of their labor.
Ezra, what would you do with the $9 billion enterprise known as the NFL leave all the money in the pockets of the greedy owners?