Over the past few weeks, I've been contacting sports media types about an idea to create an NFL redshirt system for rare talent like Jadeveon Clowney. The premise is pretty simple, allow NFL teams to draft a player two years removed from highschool and clear him to do everything except play on Sundays - practice, film study, etc. First of all, the player would have to declare for the draft but not hire an agent. That way, if he's not selected he can go back to school. Next, only picks 1 through 10 can be used to select such a player. This is to prevent the better teams in the later portion of the draft from scarfing up elite but unproven talent. Of course, teams beyond the top ten can trade into those spots but they will have to give appropriate value to get there. Next, money. Just like the rookie pay scale, these players can get a flat wage. Something like $2mil considering they wont play for a year and have to be motivated to stay sharp. This $2mil goes against the team's cap and the player will count toward the 53-man roster. This will prevent a team from trying to stockpile young talent.
It can be tweaked but thats the general framework. I've heard many people say that Clowney should play because "that's what football players do." That's all well and good until some nobody lineman from a directional school decides he wants to "accidently" roll up onto Clowney's knee. I doubt if Spurrier or anyone else is gonna volunteer to give this kid what he could make right now. This plan would prevent a player like Clowney from having to make the business decision of siting out and being looked at as selfish. If you think over the past few years, I cant think of many players coming out of their sophomore or redshirt freshman year that an NFL team would be willing to take such a gamble or pay such a price. Remember, Luck didnt become the it-guy until after his redshirt-sophomore year when he was eligible anyway. There are sure to be a few of these elite players every year and it'd be a shame to limit them because the NFL wants to appear to care so much about player safety.
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