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Mailbag: Do undrafted rookies get paid in camp?

7/20/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Here's my first big dip into the mailbag, which I will try to make a regular Saturday feature once the regular season starts. It may be mobile until then.

Thanks for all the questions. I'll try to answer everyone with an e-mail, but on some popular topics, look for replies here.

And check out a long block of NFL chats tomorrow from 12:00-5:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll be in the room from 3:00-4:00. Hope to see you there.

Jon in Austin writes: I would be interested in a story about the economic side of the ball for the rookie free agents. How do they survive without a contract? Do they get a daily check for training camp?

Paul Kuharsky: Rookie free agents get something to sign, so there is a bit of a bonus. The average is $3,000 to $5,000 but a handful of guys courted by several teams can get $15,000 and once in a while they'll even be a $20,000 bonus.

In training camp, all rookies get per diem payments at the rate of $800 a week, which isn't bad considering they are roomed and fed.

Veterans, by the way, get $1,225 a week.

All those payments end one week before the regular season opener.

Base salaries are then paid in 17 installments over the course of the regular season.


Jose in Garden City, Kan., writes: Does the receiving corps of the Titans have what it takes to elevate the play of VY, or is he simply on his own?

Paul Kuharsky: I think the Vince Young-is-on-his-own talk has gone a little too far. It's well-established that the Titans don't have Randy Moss or Terrell Owens. But they have some capable guys and sometimes when Young has been off, even Moss couldn't have pulled in his throws. Norm Chow didn't lose his job only because the receivers were bad. A regressing quarterback had a hand in it too.

Mike Heimerdinger had great success as Tennessee's offensive coordinator in his first go-round. If he told Jeff Fisher the Titans were OK with what they had plus veteran Justin McCareins and fourth-rounder Lavelle Hawkins, well he gets to show us that's enough or be proven wrong. Upgrades at tight end with Alge Crumpler and third-down back with Chris Johnson should help the wideouts and quarterback.

I have trouble finding the can't-miss receiver the Titans passed on in the draft or free agency.

Check out this story from a few weeks ago on this subject.


Mike in Houston writes: Here is my first question about the Texans and it is about their backfield. I cannot really see a situation where we keep both Green and Brown for the season. I think one will be gone. Neither can play special teams, Slaton is not going anywhere unless he cannot hold onto the ball. Chris Taylor is going to surprise many folks who do not follow the Texans closely and I like what Darius Walker brought to the team last year. How do you think this will play out?

Paul Kuharsky: Based on their injury histories, I think maybe they have to try to keep Green and Brown and kind of count them as one guy. Slaton may be a fantastic change-up, and I've heard wonderful things about Taylor. A crowded field at running back is a good problem to have for a team that was 22nd in rush offense last year and will be running Alex Gibbs' zone-blocking scheme.

Quarterback Matt Schaub told me Friday he thinks all the backs will be interchangeable with what they are doing. I'll write more about that soon.


Sean in Bonham writes: Are the Jags good enough to take over the AFC South, and surpass the Colts?

Paul Kuharsky: It's too early to say and I'll have a much better feeling for both teams after visiting them twice in camp. (At which point I'll be able to make a more confident prediction and still be wrong.)

The Colts could be pretty healthy by opening day and it's tough to pick against the five-time defending division champs. But this is No. 1 or 1A question in the mailbag along with whether the Texans are ready for a playoff berth. (They'll continue to get better, but I expect they will require help in the form of another team's stumble to vault out of fourth in the division.)

A Jacksonville aside: Tickets and marketing update here.


Myles in Nashville writes: What, if any, impact do you see Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves having for the Jags this year. Last season premier rookie pass rushers, Jamaal Anderson and Gaines Adams, only put up six sacks total. Can Jacksonville really expect two rookies to solve their pass-rushing woes?

Paul Kuharsky: I have a feeling Groves could make an early splash. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and defensive line coach Ted Monachino will work to put the youngsters in situations tailored to fit their early strengths. With Paul Spicer and Reggie Hayward the Jaguars have some experienced guys who can play and buy time for the kids. Whoever is in, to get by Indianapolis and or New England, the Jaguars need to hit the quarterback more. Good point about Anderson and Adams.

The Titans are also looking for contributions from two draft picks on the defensive line, though Jason Jones (second) and William Hayes (fourth) weren't both first-rounders like Harvey and Groves and won't face expectations as big.


Andre writes: Why is everyone so hard on VY? They talk about his development as passer, but you name me one HOF QB who didn't have a HOF WR.

Paul Kuharsky: I'm not seeing any Dan Marino-era Dolphin wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nobody Warren Moon played with in Houston is going to be sitting for a bust-sculpting session either. And in another e-mail, Ethan in Washington, D.C., pointed out that before the moves last year (that brought in Randy Moss and Wes Welker), Tom Brady hardly had an All Star cast.

But I get your broader point.