What’s wrong with the current keeper system? For starters, it doesn’t promote trading the same way our draft pick trading does. But worse then that, it allows players to be locked up in perpetuity (yes, like Aaron Rodgers). And it’s confusing–I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked if someone can trade a player in the off-season that they don’t intend to keep (for those who still don’t know the answer–no, you can’t). Despite these flaws, every year someone suggests adding keepers! Well, I’ve got a proposal that will change all of that: the K-System. Here’s how it works…
Every player drafted is automatically signed to a 1-year contract. This is nothing more than a change in terminology, it simply means that you have the rights to that player for the season in which you drafted him (unless you trade him before the deadline, or cut him).
But here’s the twist–each season every owner will have a single 1-year extension and a single 2-year extension to give to two players that remain on a team’s roster when the season ends. For instance, this off-season I would sign Aaron Rodgers to the 2-year extension and Jonathan Stewart to the 1-year extension (yes, my team is that bad–I just checked, and no joke, I have Titus Young on my roster).
Fast forward to this time next year: the Stewart contract will be up (thank God) and Stewart will re-enter the draft, for one of you lucky SOBs to nab. A player can’t be extended by the same owner twice (and I wouldn’t want to with Stewart), but that is how the K-System prevents controlling a player indefinitely. So I can’t sign Rodgers to the 2-year extension and then try to extend him again (with my 1 or 2-year extension) when that runs out. Still with me?
In the summer of 2014, Rodgers will be entering the final season of his 2-year extension and so I will have him “under contract” until the trade deadline in 2014–at which point he would become a free agent at the end of the season and re-enter the draft. Here is where the system really promotes trading–if I trade Rodgers at the beginning of 2014, the owner who acquires him can extend him for 2 more years, which means Rodgers’ new owner will have him for the 2014, ’15 and ’16 seasons (although that owner will face the same dilemma in the summer of 2016).
That makes Rodgers a lot more valuable at the beginning of 2014 then the end of it, because it means 13 more weeks of production from Rodgers. The same would have been true of Jonathan Stewart right after we inked his extension. The possibility of a sign-and-trade makes things much more interesting.
Now don’t forget that I also have two more extensions to hand out in 2014. Since I can’t extend Rodgers (who’s still under contract) or Stewart (who’s 1-year extension is up), I will give the 1-year extension to Jordy Nelson and the 2-year extension to Trent Richardson, both of whom I (hypothetically) drafted in 2013.
So, what does that mean for the 2015 season? Well, if I don’t trade Rodgers (or anyone else), I will have the rights to Rodgers, Richardson, and Nelson for the 2015 season. Without trading, I won’t have more than 3 active contracts at once, because the Rodgers and Nelson deals would expire after 2015 and I will only have two new extensions to hand out in 2014, plus the last year of the Richardson deal.
I say “without trading,” because there is nothing stopping an owner from acquiring multiple players with one or two years left on their deals and carrying over several players without drafting. But, I imagine that it would be difficult to do that because you only have so much to trade away–I think its a very exciting wrinkle, though.
How would draft pick compensation work then? Well, you don’t get any compensation for cutting (ie, dropping) a player to whom you have given an extension. Or if you acquired a player under contract from another team and cut him, again you get nothing. But if you choose not to use one your two annual extensions, then you will receive a compensatory draft pick in accordance with rules we already have for not using your keepers. This helps ensure parity because we don’t want teams to end up in an infini-loop of shitty players and shitty draft picks.
I think this would be a real improvement to our current system, but not really a significant departure from our current model. I would like to put the K-System on the ballot this off-season to be implemented immediately. I know that we traditionally wait one year before implementing a new rule, but if we do that, then I would have Rodger for 4 more years (thru 2016) because I wouldn’t have to burn my 2-year extension until 2014, which is too long, in my opinion. In this special case, I think it makes sense to institute the K-System right away, if the league votes it in.
I welcome any questions or thoughts in the comments or by email.