Per the Times:
Second, the Collective Bargaining Agreement caps the growth of the rookie pool at five percent per season. But the total salary cap has been increasing at a greater rate. In 2007, the cap is up 6.86 percent over the total spending limit in 2006.
Third, the salary cannot increase annually by more than 25 percent of the salary paid in the first year of the deal. So the money that the player can receive in future years is directly tied to the amount of money he receives in the first year, and as the salary cap continues to grow at rates of more than five percent, it will be increasingly harder for the first-round deals to continue to grow.
The good news here is that overall salary cap inflation is outpacing the rookie pool, meaning their prices are going to be artificially lower than everyone else's. The bad news is that the Redskins have signed fewer rookies under the new CBA than (nearly?) anyone else, meaning we're at a cost disadvantage with the rest of the league. The disparity between rookie salaries and veteran salaries increases over time. There is no arbitrary limit on Free Agents as there is with drafted players, meaning they are paid whatever the market will bear. Assuming an ~7% increase in the salary cap (or more) in the next few years, those Free Agent salaries will increase somewhere in the ~7% range. Rookies are limited to just a 5% increase annually. Over a three year period, for instance, veterans will be paid ~21% more than they were three years prior, whereas rookies will only see 15% more.
It's going to be a chore getting all our rookies signed for 3.4M, although as I pointed out yesterday 100% of that could come from Landry. The rookie pool is how much we can spend of our total salary cap on rookies. Some -- or all but Landry -- of those players fall below the Rule of 51 (only highest 51 paid players count against the total salary cap) and thus cost, effectively, zero. I am not certain that is how the rookie pool counts it, though I'm pretty sure the league would not give us enough money to sign our draft picks.
My prediction based off the rookie pool number is that we are very aggressive in getting LaRon Landry a six year deal, as the extra year of proration will make a world of difference in cutting his 1st year costs. Or else we might just play tricks with his guaranteed money -- as we did with Archuleta -- by guaranteeing money through caveat and paying it out in large installments years down the road. My preference would be we simply sign a frugal but appropriate contract for Landry that reflects his future with the team, which presumes he is here for a long time. Reasonable signing bonus with high, steadily increasing base salaries. Incentives are a plus if they get the deal done. I don't mind paying players for predetermined production standards.