2012 NFL Draft: How Will Trade Value Be Affected By CBA?

When Jimmy Johnson supposedly created the trade value chart while he was coaching the Dallas Cowboys it was considered a revolutionary piece of information. But in the two decades that followed the economics of the draft changed with early first round pick salaries ballooning out of control. Eventually the top picks became less valuable to teams as they were so expensive to deal with and with that, Johnson's trade value chart became inaccurate.

I've done a ton of work over the last few years trying to pin down exactly how much each pick is worth in the new NFL economy. In 2009 I created my own version of the chart and improved it in 2010 to a model that was much more accurate at demonstrating the actual trade value in the new NFL economy.

However, in 2011 I didn't make an updated version of my chart because the NFL lockout that was in progress at the time was surely going to affect the way teams traded and with no historical precedent to base the chart on, it was too unpredictable. The 2012 NFL Draft has a similar amount of unpredictability for similar reasons.

This year's draft will be the first one that takes place with the new rookie wage scale already in place. There's reason to believe that the teams traded last year with the knowledge that a wage scale had already been agreed upon, but it's also possible that the value of higher picks were inflated last year due to free agency coming after the draft.

In 2011, there was speculation that perhaps teams would overpay to move into the first round and find starting quality players because they didn't already have the assurance of free agency that their needs would be met. However, I'm inclined to believe that the reason the value of trades were changed in 2011 was due mostly to the wage scale.

The Jaguars moved up from 16th overall to 10th overall by giving up their second round pick. According to the 2010 trade value chart they should've only had to give up their third round pick. But with a wage scale in mind, selecting a player at 10th overall would cost several million less and would be much more affordable to the selecting team. That made the pick more valuable and more expensive to pursue.

During the 2012 NFL Draft, the most likely scenario in my opinion is that the trade economics will work very similar to the way they did in 2011. Top picks, like the 7th overall selection that the Jaguars hold, will be much more valuable than they have been in recent years and the trades that the Jaguars, Falcons and Browns made to move up in the first round are good templates for what to expect in coming years.

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