Donte's opinion: I think they should pay him top dollar! He's a game changer at any moment. Getting better on offense also! The unexpected holdout of Bears receiver/kick returner Devin Hester illustrates the flipside of the mess that is the manner in which NFL rookies are paid. Under the current system, players are paid over the first three-to-six years of their careers based primarily on when they were drafted. If a top-five pick flames out, he keeps the money. If a seventh-rounder becomes a stud, he gets nothing more... until he gets a new contract. For many of the picks, they receive only a slotted signing bonus and minimum salaries for the life of the deal. "For me to be being paid as much as players on other teams who are sixth- and seventh-round picks who haven't played a snap," Hester said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "They're getting paid the same amount as me after the two years I've had. . . . It isn't fair." Amen, Devin. It isn't fair. And so the NFL and the NFL Players Association need to agree on a system that permits every rookie to earn more money based on performance. That said, the NFL currently makes available a league-wide pool that is distributed to players based on a formula that takes into account how much they play and how little they're paid. In 2008, for example, Willie Colon of the Steelers picked up an extra $309,000 on top of his $450,000 base salary. But Hester surely wants more than that. He wants a base salary that reflects his abilities and that reward him for his performance over the first two years of his contract. The best approach could be to create a new players' incentive system that, like the performance-based pay, isn't part of each team's salary cap. The rookies' base pay would be determined by a narrow NBA-style formula, making contract negotiatons simple and eliminating the opportunity for ridiculous increases from one year to the next (and reducing significantly the influence of agents). Then, every rookie's pay would be supplemented based on a system of incentives specifically negotiated for each position. It's the easiest path to a win-win. The rookies would consume less cap space on each of their teams, and thus more of it would be available to veterans. But the rookies would then be compensated fairly and appropriately for what they actually do between the white lines.