The NFL players’ union is looking into whether trades made by four teams this week are attempts to avoid paying money into a rookie pool, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
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The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the union hasn’t made the probes public, said the NFL Players Association is reviewing trades made by the Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.
In an odd pair of trades on Monday, the Redskins sent sixth-round selection Dennis Morris to the Rams for a conditional, undisclosed draft pick, and St. Louis sent fifth-round pick Hall Davis to Washington, also for a conditional, undisclosed pick.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that Morris was traded because he wasn’t going to make the 53-man roster. Then, once Davis arrived in Washington, the Redskins cut him after one practice.
Also on Monday, the Eagles traded Charles Scott to the Cardinals for Jorrick Calvin in an exchange of players taken in the sixth round of this year’s draft. That trade appeared to be more practical because Scott is a fullback, a position of need for the Cardinals because Nehemiah Broughton was lost for the season last week with a knee injury.
The trades have the union’s attention because, under collective bargaining rules, if a drafted rookie is cut by the team that drafted him, that team’s required to pay 85 percent of the player’s salary into a rookie pool. The money from that pool will be distributed to rookies early next year based on the number of downs played in the 2010 season.
The way the rule’s written, teams could circumvent the rookie pool payment by trading a drafted player they were going to cut to another team – and have that team cut the player.
While the Redskins quickly cut Morris, the other three players are still with their new teams. However, all teams have until Saturday to make their final preseason cuts, when the 53-man regular season rosters are set.
NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis said the union is ”monitoring this situation very closely” in regard to the Redskins-Rams trade. He wouldn’t comment on the Eagles-Cardinals deal.
The amounts of money the teams would save isn’t much by NFL standards. The first-year minimum salary is $310,000, and 85 percent of that amount is $263,500.