On Monday, Andrew Luck may have played his last collegiate game after beating Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Luck, a quarterback that ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer called “the best prospect I’ve ever seen” is considered a lock to be the top pick in the draft. But the wild card in Luck’s decision to turn pro is the uncertainty of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and whether it will have a rookie salary cap.
If the cap doesn’t go into affect until 2012, Luck would stand to lose millions by staying in school. However, if the cap is in place for this year’s draft, the only benefit of entering the draft early is the prospect of reaching free agency a year sooner.
The talk of a salary cap for rookies is driven by the escalating salaries of first-year players. In 2009, the NFL gave rookies $1.2 billion in contracts, $585 million of it guaranteed, before any of those players had played a single down. And the guaranteed amounts given to the top picks has grown astronomically in the last 10 years.
Since David Carr was drafted first-overall by the Houston Texans in 2002, the amount of guaranteed money given to the top pick has risen 359%. The $50 million guaranteed for Sam Bradford alone was a 19.9% increase over the year before.
Unfortunately, Luck will have to decide before the CBA is signed. The deadline to file for the Draft is January 15.
*Amounts are the guaranteed portion of each contract. Data via St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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