Combine also is forum for debating hot-button issues

NFL.com associate editor Jason Feller sat with Pat Kirwan and Vic Carucci during their "End Zone" show on Sirius Satellite Radio live from the Scouting Combine. The following observations were gleaned with help from their conversations with Titans coach Jeff Fisher, Colts president Bill Polian and agent Neil Cornrich.

While all the attention goes to the prospects, the NFL Scouting Combine is also the home to many percolating offseason league and team issues.

On-field communication devices

There have been growing concerns in recent years that it is unfair for the quarterback to be able to communicate with his coaches, but nobody on the defense has that luxury.

The Week 1 incident in which Patriots coach Bill Belichick was found guilty of videotaping defensive signals on the sideline against the Jets only intensified the calls for giving a defensive player a communication device in his helmet to minimize the need for hand-signals from the sideline, and thus the potential for stealing those signs.

The competition committee took up the debate last year, as well, but there were concerns about substitution patterns and the ability to ensure only one defender with the special helmet was on the field at a time.

Those issues are still on the table, Titans coach Jeff Fisher told us, but he added that the proposal could be voted on at the owners meetings next month.

If it passes, the same green dot that appears on quarterbacks' helmets to signify they have communcation devices will start appearing on the headgear of select defensive players, as well.

Re-seeding the playoffs

There apparently is a growing sentiment that the playoffs should be seeded based on overall record, not necessarily based on division titles or wild-card berths.

If re-seeding were to take effect, the teams with the best records would host playoff games as opposed to the division winners. For example, the wild-card Giants (10-6) would have hosted the NFC South champion Buccaneers (9-7), instead of Tampa Bay getting the home game, as happened in last year's wild-card round.

By re-seeding for the playoffs, the thinking goes, more teams will be compelled to play hard in late-season games in hopes of securing a home playoff game. In recent seasons, a number of teams -- including the Buccaneers -- have rested players down the stretch once their playoff position was locked up.

While the concept is intriguing, there is considerable concern that re-seeding would cheapen the importance of a division title. Fisher expressed those reservations to us on the radio show, and Colts coach Tony Dungy also voiced concerns during his news conference at the combine.

Those concerns will have to be assuaged if a re-seeding resolution is to pass.

Rookie wage scale

The increasing price tag on high draft picks has become a growing issue in recent years.

Rookies at the top of the draft consistently become the highest paid players at their positions, without ever having played a snap at the pro level.

QB JaMarcus Russell, last year's No. 1 overall pick, signed a contract that reportedly included some $29 million in guaranteed money, then started only one game and appeared in only three others.

The concern is two-fold. First, teams are concerned about investing so much money and salary-cap space in an unproven player. Second, veterans who were not drafted high but who have produced at a high level often make far less than top rookies who might never pan out in the NFL.

Colts president Bill Polian voiced his displeasure with the system on the show and went into further detail about his frustrations in an interview with the Associated Press .

The model that comes up as a potential replacement is the NBA system in which rookies are slotted into set compensation levels based on where they are drafted.

According to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement: "Each Rookie Scale Contract between a Team and a First Round Pick shall cover a period of two (2) Seasons, but shall have an Option in favor of the Team for the player's third Season and a second Option in favor of the Team for the player's fourth Season."

That system helps offset the risk involved in making high draft choices and also gives a larger portion of the pie to veteran players who have proven their abilities.

However, not everyone likes the idea of a rookie salary scale.

Agent Neil Cornrich offered his dissenting opinion during the show.

He asserted that the only reason the concept of a draft was palatable to players at all was because of the high level of compensation. He noted that players coming out of college forfeit the right to negotiate with the team of their choice by applying for the draft. Without the big contracts provided in the current system, surrendering that freedom of choice to the draft concept would not be in the players' best interests.

Cornrich added that the rookie contracts help veterans get better deals by setting a standard for the market.

Whichever side you're on, the fact is this issue is far from resolved and will continue to linger as rookie contracts continue to grow.

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