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Rookie wage scale uncertainty could limit trades at top of draft

Cam Newton, Jackie Newton, Ccil Newton

Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, top, stands behind his father Cecil, and mother Jackie, bottom, following a ceremony recognizing the former Auburn University quarterback in the Georgia Legislature Friday, April 1, 2011 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)


The expected rookie wage scale inspired a popular theory in NFL circles. With contracts drastically reduced, we would see more trading at the top of the draft.

The only problem with this theory for April’s draft is that no one is exactly sure what the rookie wage scale will look like.

Even more important: Decision makers aren’t entirely confident there will be a rookie scale this year.’s Albert Breer explains: “Teams are operating with the feeling they might have to pay the same freight as in the recent past, which would be the case if an injunction to lift the lockout is granted and the 2011 season is played without a CBA in place,” Breer writes.

Without more certainty, the likelihood of moves is very low. New York’s trade up for Mark Sanchez is the only time a team has moved up for a top-six pick in the last six years.

Teams just aren’t going to fork up extra picks to move up without knowing how much a top-five contract is going to cost.

“It’s a gray area,” one AFC personnel executive told Breer. “No one knows the timetable, and there are no guarantees. And even if there is a rookie wage scale, we don’t know the numbers.”

This draft class also doesn’t have the right standout prospects to would inspire a move up. There isn’t a lot separating the top 8-10 picks.

It’ s going to be very difficult for the Panthers to inspire someone to trade up to No. 1 overall, if that’s what they want to do.