Good to be back with you guys. Busy as ever with the NFL with replacement officials still in and the regulars still out. Ready to take your questions.
How common is this failure to disclose physical injury clause used?
It's interesting that this is the first question, because I think this is a unique issue going on right now. I was shocked to see the Patriots release Fanene after signing him and giving him a bonus in March. It's something that's very rare for any team, let alone the Patriots, to essentially flush that money down the toilet. To put it in perspective, that's almost as much bonus money that they gave their first round pick Chandler Jones.
When this happened I thought there might be more to the story and there may be. I am told he was released with a "failure to disclose physical condition" designation. This is rarely used. It was used twice yesterday with Fanene and Larry Lumpkin of the Colts. My sense with Fanene is there is something going on and there are some hard looks being given to the Patriots medical staff right now. I would not be surprised if the failure to disclose condition is a precursor to the Patriots filing a grievance against Fanene to recover the bonus or part of the bonus. This will be a highly interesting case to watch. I'm sure there is more to the story than we know.
With Wallace reporting to Steelers camp, what do you think that does for his contract situation?
I think we all expected Wallace to report before the beginning of the season. I think it's pretty clear that he's going to play out this season on a one-year contract of $2.7 million, which is the amount of his restricted free agent tender. That is approximately 160K per week and I don't think it was ever realistic that he would give up that amount. The real question with Wallace is what happens in 2013 if he continues to play at a high level, the Steelers will once again to tight up against the cap and have real issues in trying to franchise Wallace, if that's what they want to do.
In other words, I think it's safe to say that Mike Wallace is playing his last year as a Steeler.
Who cares if MJD says he's open to a trade, right? He has two years left on a contract that no one forced him to sign in the first place. If I'm the Jags, I sit tight, don't you?
I do and they have. They've been very clear that they're not going to readjust his contract and how precedent setting that would be for the team if they tore up a contract with two years left, thus encouraging anyone with one year left to try to do the same. In terms of a trade, that is part of the player-agent handbook, where if they don't get what they want contractually, they ask for a trade. Listen, MJD is not going to get a new contract and I seriously doubt he'll be traded, so his options are very limited. Despite the rhetoric, I do think he will be on the roster Week 1 when the season kicks off.
The more interesting question to me is what will happen to the large of fines that MJD is amassing by not being there. His $30,000 per day of fines could amass to an amount close to 1 million, which could be quite a chunk taken out of his 4.45 million salary. The Jags could waive those fines or part of those fines or put that money into some sort of other incentive. We may never know what happens to that fine money because it will be very quiet. The bottom line is I think he reports and will play under that existing contract.
How do you think the rookie wage scale will affect the second contract of young superstars drafted after it was installed? For example, will AJ Green be looking for a Megatron type deal (~4mil/year to 16mil/year would be quite a jump) or would it be more realistic to be in the 10mil/year range (about doubled, like Megatron's)? Was that wage scale partly intended to make those huge contracts a thing of the past?
The jumping off point for these contracts will be a lot lower than it was. For instance the reason why the contracts for Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson is so strong is they were negotiating from position of strength due to bloated rookie contracts. That problem is gone. As you mention, AJ Green will be negotiating off a contract averaging $4 million per year rather than a Johnson/Fitzgerald level whose later years average more like 14 million per year. That will bring the numbers down.
Of course, if AJ Green continues to play well, he'll get a nice deal, I just don't think it will be a Johnson/Fitzgerald type deal.
Using your insider knowledge of coaches, what do you think the Seahawks plan is with Wilson? If he's starting Week 3 in the preseason, doesn't that mean the coaches are leaning toward starting him Week 1?
Not necessarily, but it is a good sign. I will say this about John Schneider who I worked with in Green Bay and the Seahawks: they are willing to continuously evaluate more than just about any other team. What I mean by that is that John truly wants to create competition at every position. He's looking under a rock for every player to do so. Bringing in players like Braylon Edwards and T.O. are examples of that. I do think that he and Pete Carrol are going to make decisions regardless of financial situations. They have $10 million invested in Matt Flynn guaranteed, 8 million of which is for this year. They only have 1 million invested in Russell Wilson for this year, but I do not think that is making a difference in their decision making.
Fortunately, it will come down to how Wilson plays this weekend, because it will be hard to unseat him if he does well.
With the refs lockout carrying over to being on the doorstep of the week 3 in the preseason when should the typical NFL fan start to get worried? This feels a lot different than other lockouts of recent memory with the leagues.
I hear what you're saying and I hear it a lot with my Tweets, but I'm an enternal optimist with these lockouts, as I was last year with the players. Deadlines spur action and there are deadlines to come. Maybe the deadline is next week, maybe the week after. But I think there will be movement, and there will be a deal made. There are many issues involved here, some are financial. But at the end of the day, I believe it gets done in time for the regular season. So, don't believe the rhetoric, it's a negotiation, no more no less and negotiations can be messy, but they almost always end when they should.
To Steve in LA, if I'm the Jags owner I see a player that is producing much more for my team than I ever expected him to and I see that he is being underpaid, so I increase his pay to let players know that they will all be paid fairly if the work hard and outplay their contracts.
That's certainly one view. The other view is that this player agreed to a contract three years ago that he was happy with and the team stepped out and made a strong commitment. As I've said before, there are ways to compromise here, such as guaranteeing this year's salary and perhaps adding some high-performance incentives.
It just seems that the owner and the Jags are taking a hard line here, knowing that they have the leverage and that MJD has no other options. But like the referees' dispute, this one will end. I think it will end just in time for the real games.
What do you think of all of these young QBs starting as rookies?
Interestingly the investments are less than they used to be. But that may be a reason why they are playing. Teams realize that if these players don't work out it's not the end. It's not a franchise killer like it was in past years with JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf. I also believe the NFL is getting younger all of the time. With 4-year contracts on all of the rookies, you might as well find out if they can play as soon as possible. It's the way of the world in general. Teams are giving more and more responsibility to younger and younger people. The four guys in the first round were first round picks for a reason, Luck, Tannehill, RGII and Weeden. Locker was first round last year. With that kind of designation in the draft, you should definitely be starting sooner rather than later. My experience in Green Bay where Rodgers sat for 3 years is unique. We're going to see less and less of those.
Do nfl teams insure players? Is it just the stars? If they do are the teams sole beneficiary?
Good question. In my nine years in Green Bay I remember only insuring one contract, and that was the contract of Brett Favre, the first $100 million contract in the NFL. The difficult of insuring a contract is the only reasonable price category is permanent total disability (PTD), which rarely, if ever, happens. It would be more valuable for teams to purchase TTD, Temporary Total Disability, but if I remember, those prices were high. That is why I think there is rarely insurance bought on these contracts.
Shouldn't we just do away with multi-year contracts? In what other business realm do these multi-year contracts exist/
The problem for NFL players is that multi-year deals don't mean much. They mean a lot in NBA and MLB contracts because they are fully guaranteed. In the NFL, they hardly go beyond the first two years and mostly are just the first year. You can look at NFL contracts as one-year deals with an option for the second year. That's why valuing these contracts is hard. The true value for me in these deals is looking at a 2-3 year period for cash.
Thanks for all of the great questions. I will definitely try to do this at least every two weeks in the season. The issues are fast and furious. Be sure to check out all of my columns on the NFL page on ESPN.com and my Twitter nuggets @ADBrandt.