Chat with Andrew Brandt
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN's sports business analyst Andrew Brandt stops by to chat about the NFL offseason.
Brandt, who has over 25 years of experience in professional football, both from the management and player representation side, gives fans an insider's view on the business of football. His Twitter is: @ADBrandt.
He is also a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business, teaching Sports Law, Sports Business and Negotiations. He has written for Forbes, the Huffington Post and Sports Business Journal, while also appearing across all ESPN TV, radio and online platforms. In his time in the football business, Brandt as served as a player representative, a World League GM and a VP with the Packers.
Send your questions now and join Brandt Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Andrew Brandt (3:03 PM)
After the longest offseason in all of major sports, we're back in business with all of the NFL training camps opening by this weekend, so it's a perfect time to chat about all of the NFL business. From rookies to team sales to players getting in trouble to the ongoing Saints saga. Fire away!
Had you heard that the Browns were being put up for sale? I hadn't heard they were even up...Even though it's the Browns, I'd imagine that they'll still sell pretty high, no?
Andrew Brandt (3:05 PM)
Yes. Like everyone, the news is a bit surprising to hear that the Browns are not only for sale, but, evidently, in the late stages of being sold. Having said that, hindsight is 20/20, but reading between the lines of some of Randy Lerner's comments over the last few years, it seemed like he was not all in on being an NFL owner. Obviously he turned over the operation of the franchise to Mike Holmgren and seemed more interested in his purchase of an English soccer team.
Andrew Brandt (3:06 PM)
As to the price, like any negotiation, it will come down to a few variables: recent sales, market size, fixed costs, future stability, etc. Obviously, it's a good time to sell, with the labor agreement in place for the next 9 years and historic TV deals ahead. This looks to be heating up quickly and we'll keep an eye on it.
Andrew, can you give a brief explanation as to why the Mike Wallace/Steelers agreement is taking so long?
Andrew Brandt (3:08 PM)
I think each side is trying to use its best leverage. On the Steelers' side, they're saying you don't get a serious offer on a longterm deal until you come to camp which would give them the leverage, having him under contract and in camp. Wallace is saying let's do it the other way: you give me a serious offer then I will come to camp. My sense is this stare down continues for a while. Wallace has no incentive to go to camp. As a restricted free agent who is unsigned, he does not get any fines or suspensions for not signing. He can use that to his advantage. My prediction is that Wallace reports to camp sometime late in August and close out the year to become a true free agent next year.
Andrew, you were on the inside of a team....do pro sports franchises actually make money? What's the return on investment?
Andrew Brandt (3:10 PM)
There are two parts to the return on investment. One is annual profit or loss. We have recently seen the only team report its financials, the Packers my old team, show an outstanding profit: $40 million, a number I never saw in my time there. The bigger profit is on transfer. Many of these franchises were bought in the neighborhood or $150-200 million and now have a market of potentially 750 million to 1 billion. That is the real value of owning an NFL team. I don't know what Randy Lerner's father bought the team for, but he's going to realize a huge profit from a potential sale.
What do you believe Dwayne Bowe's reasoning is for missing camp? You'd think the earlier he showed up, the faster he could learn the new offense, and the better year he would have in order to argue for a bigger contract. Is it only because he knows he doesn't HAVE to and he doesn't want to practice twice a day in triple digit heat? Or is there another reason he would want to miss camp?
Andrew Brandt (3:13 PM)
Like Mike Wallace, Bowe is an unsigned player. Unlike Mike Wallace, he can not do more than a one year contract, because the franchise date has passed. The leverage of an unsigned player whether a restricted free agent or franchise tag is he can sit out training camp and show up for the big checks in September. In Bowe's case, the checks are almost $600,000 a week. It is the one point of leverage that franchise players have and it's their allowable "civil disobedience" if you will. If you have been tagged, you can vacation in August while everyone is sweating it out in camp. Like Wallace, my sense is Bowe plays out the year and becomes a free agent next year, with the Chiefs potentially tagging him again.
does a franchise tag contract stay on the table no matter what? Can a team decide to pull it? What does that do for a roster spot?
Andrew Brandt (3:15 PM)
A team could rescind the franchise tag if it continues to go unsigned, which would make that player a free agent, able to sign with any team in the league. That is available. However, once the player signs the tender, that full amount is guaranteed and can not be avoided. I suppose for the unsigned players like Bowe, a team could rescind the tag, but I see that as highly unlikely.
Zach (Florida )
If you were the Jags GM would you give MJD a new deal?
Andrew Brandt (3:19 PM)
Good question. As a former agent, I feel for MJD, because I know he knows this could be his last contract as a running back in the NFL. The Jags, of course, are worried about rewarding a player with two years left on his contract and the precedent it sets. The Jags can do one of three things: 1) ignore him, make him play under the contract; 2) rip up the contract and give him a top of the market deal; 3) something in between. I suppose I would opt for something inbetween, like guarantee this year's salary, which is going to be earned anyway. Add some performance incentives that would get him some more money if he achieves certain thresholds. Add a workout bonus next year to keep him around the facility. Potentially add a reporting bonus for next year to make sure we don't go through this again. That compromises what MJD wants as a way to add a sweetener to let him know we're doing something but not tearing up the contract.
George K (Michigan)
I know you always preach that the guaranteed portion of a contract is the important figure because teams can always rip up the contract once the guarantees are paid. And while I get that, it sure seems like most players end up having a significant portion of their contract paid that isn't part of the guarantees. Does the media downplay the importance of negotiating the non-guaranteed portion of a player contract?
Andrew Brandt (3:22 PM)
That's a big part of the negotiation, in terms of the total value of the contract, the number of years of the contract. Contracts are judged by the average per year. When you look closer at these deals, you want to know the realistic money that the player is going to make. The realistic lifespan that I look at is three years for veteran contracts. Typically guarantees go into second years of deals, rarely into third years, except for marquee QBs like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. But every year, we see players who got big numbers on the non-guaranteed side with huge APYs get released with no lingering obligation from the team. That's unfortuante.
Rich (New Jersey)
Will there be an agreement between the NFL & the Referees when the season opens on September 5? And do you see the NFL hiring full time referees down the line?
Andrew Brandt (3:24 PM)
Yes and no. I do see the NFL and the referees coming to an agreement, in the same way I saw the NFL and players coming to an agreement. To those who follow me on Twitter know that my montra is deadlines spur action. The deadline of the season will force and agreement between the NFL and the refs. From now until then they'll be posturing. There will be doomsday scenarios about high school officials. There will be players speaking out. But I'm confident that it will get done. Once it gets done, it will continue the part-time nature of the officials. Once again it will end any discussion of full-time referees. With only 16 game weekends per year plus playoffs, it's hard to justify full time, unlike basketball and baseball.
Will we see Welker with a different team next season, or will the Pats resign him after this season?
Andrew Brandt (3:26 PM)
That's a good one. It will be very hard for Welker to match his performance in 2011. He was extremely productive and he was doing it for $2.5 million. Now he's doing it for 9.5 million and they were unable to get a long term deal done. If they couldn't get a long term deal now coming off of that great year he had, how is he going to get a long term deal when he's a year older? So, that's not an answer, but ask that question again about halfway through the season.
why do they put a deadline for signing a long term deal under the franchise tag? When can you renegotiate?
Andrew Brandt (3:27 PM)
The rationale behind the rule, I think it was to force negotiations to either decide there is a long term commitment or the franchise tag is imposed for the year. As I always say with deadlines, that's when you see teams' best offers. In some ways that helps the player. The next time you can negotiate a long term deal would be following the season in February.
Joe (Decatur, GA)
Can you please explain the concept of "offset language" that we've been hearing so much about in regards to rookie contracts?
Andrew Brandt (3:30 PM)
I'll try to make this as simple as possible. The top rookies are getting four year guaranteed contracts. Teams would like the ability to have the guarantees offset by a new team, if somewhere along the four years they cut the player and he signs with a new team. Offset language would relieve the initial team of some of the guarantee obligation. Agents and players are saying that the CBA has cut the money so much at the top of the draft, that the players deserve the guarantees without the offset language. The players are winning the battle at least within the top 9. They don't have the offset language.
Andrew Brandt (3:31 PM)
Having been in that seat, here is why the teams want the offset language so badly: precedence. They know that once they allow a rookie to not have offset language, every deal they do in the future with a veteran, they won't be able to get it in. Every agent will say, hey, your rookie doesn't have it, your veteran shouldn't either. That's a valid point. The real point of reckoning of offset will be the Dolphins contract with Ryan Tannehill. We'll keep an eye on that one to see if the Dolphins take a hard line and see if Tannehill holds out.