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Rookie wage scale shouldn’t lead to more trades, in theory


Several reports have emerged in recent days regarding the belief that the new rookie wage scale will result in more trades at the top of the draft.

Perhaps those reports are originating with the various teams that desperately want to trade down.

The thinking is that the reduced financial commitment to top-10 picks will now make teams more willing to move up into what previously was a ridiculously high-rent district. But the teams that hold those upper-echelon picks realize this, and they will value the picks accordingly for trade purposes.

And so, in order to move up for a player who’ll now get far less money, a team may have to dangle far more in order to make the trade happen.

Consider the trade that previously was consummated between the Rams and the Redskins. To slide down only four spots from the No. 2 pick, St. Louis received the sixth overall selection, two more first-round picks, and a second-round pick. Before the implementation of a real rookie wage scale, the Redskins would have had a hard time justifying the total investment of picks and cash needed to acquire and then to sign quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Thus, the money saved on the contract could translate to a higher price for the ability to pay a player less. In the short term, there could indeed be more trade talks as the teams try to determine a fair price for these price-controlled elite picks. In the end, it could be a wash, with no more and no fewer trades made.

Regardless, the fact that it’s now cheaper to sign top-10 picks won’t be lost on the teams that “earned” those selections.