The Falcons clearly paid quite the price in terms of draft picks to get Julio Jones when they took him in the first round of the draft. However, Jones' rookie contract could be worth significantly less if a rookie salary cap comes to fruition.
Remember when news was finally beginning to come out about the specifics of the proposed new CBA. According to the report, a "rookie wage scale (is) part of the deal, but still being tweaked." Hence, the details are still very unclear. However, we can most likely expect that the cost of signing a top-10 draft pick will be greatly reduced.
The strong possibility for the creation of a rookie wage scale probably had a large impact on the decision to take Jones in the first place. Think about it: when the Falcons took Matt Ryan with the third overall selection in 2008, he was guaranteed $34.75M in his rookie contract. Last year's sixth overall pick, OT Russell Okung, was guaranteed $30M as part of his six-year contract worth $58M. That's some crazy money right there.
What's more, the Falcons only have around $16.5M worth of cap space right now. Add in the cost of five other draft picks, plus the possibility of signing a free agent like Ray Edwards, and that's not a lot of room at all. A rookie wage scale could prove to be a hidden savior of the Falcons. The prospect of only paying Julio even half of Okung's sum would be great for the team finances.
What's nice, however, is that Jones doesn't seem to mind the prospect of losing millions. In an interview with the AJC, Jones had this to say on the potential for a rookie wage scale:
"I love football, (a rookie wage scale) 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.
Now that's the attitude of a winner. The front office's timing of this move is looking smarter with each passing day, and the prospect of such a great player coming at a much cheaper price makes it all the better.
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