Julio Jones on Draft Day 2011

Let’s Get Rid of the NFL Draft and Do This Instead

Mina Kimes had a question earlier this week about your goofiest sports take that you actually kind of believe and I feel passionately about mine: getting rid of the NFL draft.

I think it is cruel forcing kids to go somewhere they don’t want to go. In the non sports world, imagine graduating top of your class and getting drafted to work at Sears. It would be madness. I think a better alternative would be to give teams an allotment of money that they can use to sign picks. From there it is up to the player to decide where they want to go.  

How it works:

I would start giving every team money based off of the total salary cap. In this example, I will use $20 million dollars. From there teams would be placed in pods where money is subtracted for teams with better records Here is how it would work:

  • Teams 27-32: $0 subtracted ($20,000,000 to sign rookies)
  • Teams 21-26: $500k subtracted ($19,500,000 to sign rookies)
  • Teams 15-20: $1,000,000 subtracted ($19,000,000 to sign rookies)
  • Wild Card Losers: (6 teams): $1,500,000 subtracted ($18,500,000 to sign rookies)
  • Divisional Round Losers (4 teams): $1,750,000 subtracted ($18,250,000 to sign rookies)
  • Championship Round Losers (2 teams): $2,000,000 subtracted ($18,000,000 to sign rookies)
  • Super Bowl Loser (1 team): $2,250,000 subtracted ($17,750,000 to sign rookies)
  • Super Bowl Winner (1 team): $2,500,000 subtracted ($17,500,000 to sign rookies)

This would give teams with a glaring weakness an ability to spend all of their money on one pick if they thought they were a pick away. For example, in 2011 the Falcons traded a plethora of picks (and multiple first rounders) to draft Julio Jones. Based on the chart above, they would have had $18,250,000 to work with since they lost in the Divisional Round the year prior. They could have used the majority of that money to try to convince Julio to play for them. Alternatively, teams with a strong base may spread out their money around more mid-tier players and try to build depth. 

Teams could also still trade money for players. For example,a typical second round player would average around $5,000,000. You could trade $5,000,000 in next year’s draft for a player that you would normally trade a second round pick for.

Too many players, and quarterbacks in particular, have been ruined by terrible organizations that have no idea on how to develop a quarterback. Maybe Sam Darnold and Zack Wilson turn into decent quarterbacks if they are able to sign with a team with a better base around them like the Steelers or Saints, even if it means taking less money up front. It would empower these rookies to choose where they want to go. Do they want to take less money to play for a winner, or more money to try to build a loser into a winner.

All of this would take place over the course of a week and would be like free agency on steroids. It would add a great deal of additional strategy as well and force teams to build winning environments knowing that it would play a crucial part in recruiting the next best talent.

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