Trade winds blow thanks to rookie 'slotting' system

One item in the collective bargaining agreement fans (and front offices) can agree on: the NFL's "slotting" system for rookie contracts.

This offseason is alive with rumors of potential movement high in the draft, and it's no coincidence. Trades in the first round no longer come with the outrageous financial risks of yesterday.

Case in point: In 2010, under the bloated rookie deals of the old CBA, the St. Louis Rams signed top overall pick Sam Bradford to a six-year, $78 million deal with $50 million guaranteed.

Fast-forward to 2011, under the new rookie wage scale, and Cam Newton (worth every bit of what Bradford's earning) netted a four-year, $22 million contract from the Carolina Panthers' as the top overall pick.

More accommodating salaries for top rookies has led to an uptick trade talks league-wide.

When general manager Bruce Allen and the Washington Redskins forked over three No. 1 picks and a second-rounder for the rights to this year's No. 2 (read: Robert Griffin III), it marked the first time since 2004 one of the top-four picks was shopped (dating back to the Giants-Chargers deal that sent Eli Manning to New York and Philip Rivers to San Diego).

Now the St. Louis Rams -- who acquired Washington's No. 6 pick -- have openly talked about their willingness to move up or down on April 26.

"There's no question that the cost of the contract was a major factor in considering trades before this," Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff told Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports.

"You weren't just trading for a player, you were trading for a contract that might include $20 or $30 million guaranteed. That made a lot of people think twice."