Monday, August 3, 2009

Missing Training Camp: The Rookie Way

Something has to change. Each year too many rookies miss the start of training camp because their agent is working hard to get a top deal. It’s ruining the the rookie season of many young, talented players. If only more rookies would understand the value and importance of getting to training camp on time, their team would get much more production out of them.

Super agents pride themselves on getting every penny out of teams during negotiations. In this way, they see themselves as best serving their clients. It’s too bad that so many of these rookies end up slagging behind other rookies who get to camp on time. We’ve seen more than once a late round pick beat out a higher round pick on the depth chart when the season starts in September.

Matthew Stafford and Jason Smith, the top two picks respectively, have signed. Mark Sanchez and Darrius Heyward-Bey have also signed. Four of the top ten picks. That’s how many have signed with training camps beginning. Sad.

So far, 13 of the 32 first round picks have signed contracts or agreed to terms. That leaves 19 first round picks sitting at home or working out alone when they could be, and should be, learning the playbook and bonding with their teammates. I’m not sure how veterans see these all-important rookies who miss training camp while they’re running, lifting, learning and burning. Rookie contracts are ridiculous in the NFL. Not only does the unproven talent in the league take away far too much money from proven veterans, their absence at the beginning of training camp is paramount to a snub.

Defenders of these rookies point their finger at the agents. A rookie, however, should recognize the importance of getting to know their teammates and reporting to camp on time and have their agent work toward getting them in camp on time. The agent works for them. When they say it’s time to get to camp, their agent should burn the midnight oil until a deal can be reached.

Michael Crabtree wants top-three money. He was the tenth pick of the draft. He also hasn’t proven himself against an NFL defense. None of the first three teams to pick in this year’s draft were willing to make him a top-three pick, so he isn’t a top-three pick. The first nine teams to pick, for that matter, passed on Crabtree. I don’t see what the confusion is; he’s the tenth pick. He’s certainly proven himself on the college level, though, which gives us some sort of picture of what his career may look like, but too often have wide receivers failed on the big stage. Instead of getting to know his quarterback in San Francisco, he’s demanding money he hasn’t earned and the 49ers have every right and more than one reason to be hesitant to cough up the dough (see former wide receiver top 10 picks Troy Williamson, Reggie Williams, Mike Williams, Charles Johnson, David Terrell, Koren Robinson, Peter Warrick, Michael Westbrook, J.J. Stokes, Desmond Howard, etc.).

Let’s not even get into the quarterback busts, mainly because all three first round quarterbacks have signed before camp and will be getting to know their wide receivers, offensive linemen, running backs and coaches for a full training camp before the season starts in September.
For the past two seasons, the top pick in the draft has signed before training camp. Let’s hope the trend catches fire and more rookies decide to kick their agent into gear and report for camp on time. Or maybe the NFL should take a page from the NBA when it comes to rookie contracts.

Written By Danny Hobrock