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pakowitz 05-02-2003 02:31 AM

NFL announces rookie salary pool

By Len Pasquarelli

Rookie salary pool
Following are the rookie pool numbers, the maximum amount of cap room franchises can invest in draft choices and free agents, for each NFL team:

Team Picks Pool
Detroit 11 $5,551,658
Chicago 12 $5,534,184
Houston 10 $5,429,639
Cincinnati 9 $5,238,956
Baltimore 11 $5,106,802
St. Louis 11 $4,529,954
Jacksonville 9 $4,523,643
Oakland 10 $4,409,382
New England 10 $4,402,216
Dallas 7 $4,205,176
N.Y. Jets 7 $4,126,787
Carolina 8 $4,125,852
New Orleans 7 $4,078,143
Seattle 9 $4,059,952
Arizona 7 $3,955,832
N.Y. Giants 11 $3,895,689
Denver 10 $3,825,469
Minnesota 7 $3,703,686
San Diego 8 $3,445,654
Buffalo 8 $3,356,039
Kansas City 8 $3,200,348
Indianapolis 8 $3,181,480
Cleveland 7 $3,066,558
Green Bay 9 $3,052,958
San Francisco 7 $2,868,751
Philadelphia 6 $2,832,711
Miami 9 $2,782,469
Tennessee 6 $2,592,890
Pittsburgh 5 $2,464,281
Tampa Bay 6 $1,923,161
Atlanta 6 $1,818,854
Washington 3 $1,214,480

The Detroit Lions, who had the second overall selection in last weekend's draft and also exercised the second-most choices in the lottery, have been awarded the largest "rookie pool" number in the league, has learned.

Detroit will be able to spend a maximum of $5,551,658 in cap room on its 11 draft picks and any undrafted free agent players that it signs, according to NFL Players Association documents obtained on Thursday by through league sources. The Lions, who chose Michigan State wide receiver Charles Rogers, in the opening round, are one of five franchises awarded a rookie pool in excess of $5 million.

Cincinnati, which had the first overall choice and has already signed Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer to a contract, has a pool number of $5.238 million, which is the fourth highest in the league.

The rookie pool is, essentially, a cap within a cap. A team's rookie pool allocation is part of, not an addition to, the league's $75.1 million spending limit.

The formula for deriving each team's rookie pool allocation is regarded as Byzantine, not understood by most franchise officials, and is a function of how many picks are exercised by a team and where those picks are made. In addition to the second overall choice in the first round, for instance, Detroit selected high in every stanza, and had extra picks in the fifth and seventh rounds.

Those factors all combined to give the Lions a high rookie pool allocation.

Two of the teams with rookie pool awards of over $5 million each, Chicago (No. 2) and Baltimore (No. 2), both exercised a pair of first-round selections. Beyond having two first-round picks, the Bears also chose a league-high 12 prospects in the two-day draft.

Not surprisingly the Washington Redskins, who had a league-low three draft choices, also have the lowest rookie allocation, at $1,214,480. The Redskins used four draft choices as compensation for signing restricted free agents away from other teams and a fifth choice to acquire tailback Trung Canidate from the St. Louis Rams in a trade.

Washington is one of three teams with a rookie pool award of less than $2 million, and the three clubs totaled just 15 choices among them, and none had a selection in the first round of the draft.

For 2003, the total rookie pool is approximately $118.5 million, or an average of about $3.7 million per franchise. The total pool is commensurate to that of last year, and will make it difficult for agents to negotiate substantial increases for draft choices. The pool has been basically "flat" for two years now, under agreement of the NFLPA and league officials, with the intent to funnel more compensation to veteran players.

Around the country, as agents received the rookie pool numbers for the teams where they had players selected, they were scrambling to compare this year's numbers to those of '02 and to begin plotting strategy to squeeze out at least respectable increases.

Eighteen teams this year received rookie pool allocations above the league average.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for

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