Good to be back with you on a Wednesday this week instead of a Friday, because I'll be away this weekend. But plenty to talk about with the NFL offseason, the NBA playoffs and more. Also, I have an article up right now taking readers inside the Drew Brees-Saints negotiations. Fire away with your questions.
Andrew, not only does Drew Brees not have a deal, it seems like we're not even hearing about them talking. Hard to make a deal if you're not at least talking. Will this stay ugly for a while?
Good question. The pace of these negotiations has obviously been plodding. My sense is each side has taken a stance a while ago and there's been little to talk about since. There are a couple of dates ahead that will hopefully spur negotiations. Brees has asked for some clarification on the CBA on if he's franchised next year, that's a third franchise tag and that's a higher price tag. He's only been franchised once by the Saints but once before by the Chargers. The other important date is July 16, where Brees either has to have a long term contract or has to play under the one-year deal. My sense all along has been this deal will get done, deadlines always spur action. I am predicting a deal will get done right before July 16. As to what the deal will look like, I wrote about it, but my sense is $20 million per year average might be a magic number, depending on how the first three years are structured, but I would look to a guarantee in the 50 million range.
In regards to the Ballard situation, do all players who get placed on IR have to clear waivers first?
Good question. This Jake Ballard situation is really exposing the inner workings of the NFL that really get out from under the shadows. Jake Ballard was a player that was going to spend the year on injured reserve. The Giants decided in the slow time of the year to move him to IR. But since Ballard isn't vested, meaning he doesn't have 4 years in the NFL, the only way to move a player before the cut down in the NFL he has to clear waivers. In 99.5% of cases, he clears waivers. In this case, as we know, the Patriots were not going to let that happen. Therefore the Ballard contract is assigned to the Patriots and they will pay him 540K in 2012 and he will be an exclusive rights free agent in 2013 and a restricted free agent in 2014. In other words, the Patriots are putting a 540K down payment on a player they think will help them down the road.
As to whether the Giants could have held Ballard as the 90th player on the roster instead of moving him off, that's a question they're asking in hindsight. But I can tell you, having dealt with injured players dozens of times in my career, I never saw a player get claimed. This is truly unique, though allowed.
But as I Tweeted, I think the sound you're hearing around the Giants offices, in their best Seinfeld voices, not saying "Newman!" but saying "Belichick!"
What do you think of MJD's situation? He's under contract, one that he signed prior to his rookie deal ending and now he's unhappy and holding out.
The MJD situation is a tricky one and one that goes on every year in the NFL, where a star player who's under contract has watched the market pass him by and is looking for a new contract. This happened last year at the same position with Chris Johnson. The Titans chose to tear up the remaining contract years and reward him with a new one. It's clear the Jaguars were not fans of what the Titans did and appear to be holding the line on Jones-Drew. MJD's plan appears to be holding out of mandatory mini camp and try to leverage a new deal by withholding his services. My sense is that's not going to work. This will reach a head at the start of training camp when the fines go to 30K per day. The MJD situation shows a continued struggle with the RB position. I've been on both sides of the table, but even as a management guy, I feel for heavy workload RBs, like MJD, Matt Forte, Ray Rice. Ultimately the question has to be asked is their heavy workload and production helping them secure a new contract or is it hurting that? A case can be made for the latter because teams are so hesitant to reward that position long term.
Andrew, I'm not sure I fully understand the RFA situation and why the new rookie 4-year deals will make them extinct....could you explain?
Well, a RFA is a fourth-year player without a contract. So, the way to become a RFA is to have your contract expire after the third year. For instance, Mike Wallace did a three year rookie contract with the Steelers that expired and he became a RFA. Now, all rookies that are drafted will have four year contracts. So, any player worth keeping or has value to a team will already be under contract and not be any type of free agent. To be clear, this won't make the whole RFA category completely extinct, because undrafted players can sign 3-year deals. There will be players who are cut under their rookie contracts and sign deals with other teams that end after their third year. But from a practical point of view, the RFA will slowly die out.
It's really unlikely that the NFLPA will win it's collusion lawsuit against the NFL, but if it does, what's to prevent the league from declaring the monetary damages as a reduction in overall revenue, and then just lower the salary cap? Doesn't that mean the lawsuit is a "lose-lose" for the players?
I think that's an interesting theory, but it would be very hard to claim damages from a lawsuit to be a debit from league revenues. Revenues are defined in several categories, national media, local media, licensing, tickets, etc. Legal damages would not be a part of that. Of course any decision from Judge Doty's court would be appealed, just like last year with the lockout case. I'm sure the NFL feels good about its chances with the 8th Circuit, just like it did last year.
So if Cam Newton tears an Achilles tomorrow they couldn't place him on IR w/o subjecting him to waivers? That seems crazy. Since he has less than 4 yrs of service time I'm guessing he could get claimed by another team.
Absolutely they would. That's why Cam Newton would never be placed on waivers to get to the IR. Teams can place players on IR after the final cut down which will be around Labor Day, without passing them through waivers. So in this Cam Newton situation, the Panthers would keep him on the 90-man roster until such time they could pass him through after the final cut down. These IR procedures are largely timing issues. The Giants decided they wanted to have that roster spot as they head into mini camp and obviously that move did not go through.
NFl salary cap is not expected to rise signifactly in the next couple of years but player salary are going up.What will the effect be on player movement in the future? Will players be stuck taking team offers because the money is just not there?
That's a great question. What we're dealing with is a fairly flat cap moving forward, even into 2014 and beyond. Many have asked about that and what about league revenues and the new TV contracts. The deal with the TV contracts is they start relatively close to where they ended financially. They rise throughout the 10-year ranks of their deals. In other words, any player thoughts on the spike of salary caps simply because the new TV deals kick in in 2014 is overstated. The deals kick in but they rise slowly. The projections are for a fairly flat cap through 2015. Maybe not even exceeding $125 million by then. But keep in mind that number is only the salary portion of the cap. There's a whole other benefits part of the cap, which could take it over 150 million. Sometimes there is no focus on what exactly the cap is and it's certainly more than negotiable salaries.
I know its a moot point since the new CBA is in place for another 9 yrs, but wouldnt it make sense to have the Franchise Tag be for 2 years, with the first year being an average of the top 5 at that position and the 2nd yr the top 15 (or something similar)? Players dont like the lack of security, and teams dont want the long term commitment. This seems like a happy middle point.
That's a good suggestion, especially if the amounts were guaranteed, meaning the player would get more security than he has now. You've hit the nail on the head, because when you hear players like Matt Forte, Drew Brees, Bowe express frustration on the tag, I hear people say they're complaining about making $10 million. The issue isn't money it's security. The player would like to know their employer wants them around beyond the end of the year. We all want that. That's what these players want. It remains to be seen what kind of committment the teams make to these players. My sense is these contracts will get done for Brees. It's not quite as clear if Forte and Rice will have more than a one year deal this year.
In the CBA negotiations, the franchise tag continued and continued with a lesser value than it had previously. I can understand the unions position that it would be hard to make the franchise tag a priority when it would only effect 10-15 players per year out of 2,000. But the other issue is that the franchise tag players' values effect all other contract negotiations, because these are the elite players and everything flows through them.
Great chat. Great questions. I'll be back in a week or two. Keep the great comments coming on Twitter: @ADBrandt. Check out my column from yesterday on Drew Brees and the Saints and what goes on inside these negotiations.