Shiancoe not crying over rookie salaries

While some of the top picks in the draft will be receiving increasingly lucrative contracts in the coming weeks, Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe isn't ready to join the outcry against big deals for unproven NFL rookies. Shiancoe could be a minority voice among the veteran players.

A few veteran Vikings have portrayed dismay at the contracts being given to the top picks in the NFL draft, but you won't find Visanthe Shiancoe among the annoyed.

So far, only two first-round picks – both quarterbacks – have signed contracts, but they were big deals.

The Detroit Lions signed first overall selection Matthew Stafford to a six-year deal that could be worth as much as $78 million, with $41.7 million guaranteed. All of that came before the Lions actually drafted Stafford, who is currently battling former Viking Daunte Culpepper for the starting job.

"The guy's never taken a snap. I'm happy for him, but we got guys in this league that have played 10, 12 years that earn their wages every day and they don't see that kind of money," defensive end Jared Allen said on draft day when asked about Stafford's deal.

According to USA Today, Stafford's deal is 43 percent richer than the one signed by 2007 top overall pick JaMarcus Russell, another quarterback, and 300 percent more than Carson Palmer received as the top pick in 2003.

The Jets followed the Lions' lead with Stafford by signing quarterback Mark Sanchez, the fifth overall pick, to a five-year contract that could be worth up to $60 million, including $28 million in guarantees. It could turn out to be the richest deal ever given out by the Jets, and it was given to a player who has yet to take a snap in the NFL.

But the veteran angst over the money given to rookies doesn't carry over to Shiancoe, the Vikings' pass-catching tight end who signed a five-year, $18.2 million free-agent deal with the Vikings in 2007 that included $7 million in guarantees.

"Who is really complaining about the rookie cap? The vets, right? Do you know how much they get? The rookies only get 4 percent of the cap space. How much more do (the veterans) want?" Shiancoe said. "We have 96 percent of the cap. You want to take that little 4 percent? I think the problem that some people may be having is that they feel like with the rookies, the money isn't distributed evenly before they have proven themselves. That's the biggest thing.

"I feel like they earned it in college when they played the way they did in college. But A.P. (Adrian Peterson) came in a (seventh overall) pick. I don't think he should be getting paid the same as a seventh-round pick. I understand maybe some perks should be involved with that."

Rookie salaries have become one of the hot-button issues between owners and the NFL Players Association as they prepare to sit down and try to sign a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Owners seem to have the stance that rookie salaries have gotten out of control, but the new executive director of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, points out that it is the owners who are signing and paying out the lucrative contracts.

A rookie wage scale is just one of the issues that could get contentious in the coming months as the league and union attempt to agree on new terms before the start of free agency in 2010. If a new CBA isn't worked out before then, the 2010 season wouldn't be under the constraints of a salary cap and the 2011 season could see a lockout of the players if no deal is reached by then.

Shiancoe said he stayed to talk with Smith about some of the issues when the union boss was in Minnesota earlier this year to talk with players.

"You definitely have to be educated on what's going on. The lockout is not good for the retired players, players' families, etc. It's not good," Shiancoe said. "Nobody wants a lockout. A lockout is not good news at all."

But don't expect Shiancoe to join the veteran cry against reducing how much the rookies overall receive in compensation.

"They're only making 4 percent. We can't make any more than that. Ninety-six percent, come on," he said. "I would say if anything should be different, maybe the way it's distributed. There should be something done somehow with that. It doesn't really affect me as a vet. It's really people just almost getting jealous."

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