Good to be with you at the regular time. As always, lots going on in the NFL world, as well as hockey negotiations and the beginning of MLB free agency as well. Happy to answer about anything. Fire away!
Andrew, did you see any difference in having the trade deadline later this year?
I did not. Two weeks potentially sounds like a lot in the 17-week season, but the fact that we're still in the first half of the season made little difference. The other part is what I've talked about is trading in the NFL. The game is schematic, 4-3, 3-4, Cover 2, Wide 9, etc. which doesn't make it easy for players to make transitions and even more so during the season. That's why I think it's problematic for trading. There's more buzz in MLB and NBA and part of that is because players can make seamless transitions in those sports that they can't make in football. It's just the way it is. I don't think the trade deadline will be moved back again and I think we'll see very little trading in the future.
How important of a ruling is it that Sean Payton's contract extension was voided by the league?
This is one (and I wrote about it on ESPN.com this week) that really confuses me. The story that was broken by Adam Schefter on Sunday raises more questions than it does answers. The major question is this: this contract was disapproved over a year ago. Assuming what we are told, which is that the Saints and Sean Payton have a good relationship, this begs the question why has this not been resolved?
Having done contracts for both players and coaches, I know the process. The contract is submitted to the NFL and they let you know if there are any problems with approval. In this case, there were problems related to a clause given Payton an exit if GM Mickey Loomis left for any reason. The call probably came into the Saints saying, fix this and we'll approve it. The question comes back, as to why this wasn't fixed. Either one side doesn't want it fixed or is one side looking for concessions? These are questions I can't understand with the information we have so far. But one side or the other seems to not want this contract fixed. That is what is curious to me.
Andrew, you might be the optimist in labor negotiations, but I'm a pessimist. The fact that the two sides took about a month before meeting and when they did the other day, the best we can say is "some progress" was made, doesn't say a whole lot of good does it?
No it doesn't. But the good news is they are still meeting. Although we get the standard lines of not being close enough and still having work to do, the fact that they're in their fourth day of meetings I do maintain as a good sign. I maintain my montra of deadlines spur action. The problem is we don't know the deadlines for each side. The deadline for the NHL was not the Winter Classic as that's been canceled. As you say, I'm the eternal optimist. I believe strongly that there will be an NHL season. When it will start and how many games is the question. But I don't believe there is a firm date to cancel the season. They will do everything possible to keep a season.
Andrew, you worked insdie of an NFL team, teams at some point just need a change of voice in the front office don't they? With that said, what do you make of Jerry Jones saying that he will always have final say in personnel matters?
Great question. I think when we talk about a new voice, I think that's probably more true with coaches than management, although ultimately you need both because the same voice becomes stale. I believe that change is always good and should be embraced. Jerry Jones is obviously the owner and has invested heavily in the asset and has made the Cowboys the most valuable franchise in the NFL, at least according to Forbes. The problem is the same attributes that make Jones successful - great bravado, gravitas and presence - sometimes weigh against him as GM. The best GMs tend to be unemotional and detached in terms of setting long term goals and not allowing emotions about certain players get in the way of those goals. Jones can be impulsive, emotional and can go for the big splash, whether it's trading No. 1 picks for players like Joey Galloway or Roy Williams or extending contracts of older veterans. Most GMs would be more analytical and less emotional.
Finally, you give me a chance for a shameless self promotion, as I'll be talking about his on OTL today at 3 p.m. ET.
Was it just plain loyalty that Sean Payton would want his contract tied to the fate of Loomis? GMs and coaches get fired all of the time, wasn't it pretty risky of him to try and link his fate to that of his GMs?
Great question. For whatever reason Payton and his agent Don Yee felt that was doable and felt Payton had enough leverage to get an exit clause based on Mickey Loomis. I've heard of exit clauses tied to ownership changes, such as what Bill Parcells had in Miami, but I have not heard of tying it to one employee which is why the contract was disapproved. As I wrote about, I have experience trying to tie player contracts together. In 2005, when I was negotiating Aaron Rodgers rookie contract, we had a hard time figuring out esaclators and incentives because we had a hard time trying to predict Brett Favre's retirement. Similarly, they are not going to let a head coach tie his employment to another employee. Back to the first answer, the fact that he tried to do that is not that surprising, the fact that they haven't tried to fix it is the more surprising part to me.
Is is possible for the Packers to have all of their star athletes for the 2013 season under the salary cap?
They have challenges ahead with some of their star players. The key to me, as I did when I was there, was always about staggering big tickets so they don't come up the same year. For instance, over the next 2-3 years they have expirations coming on Jennings, Rodgers, Raji, Matthews. They have to make some priority decisions. Obviously Rodgers is top priority. Even though he has two years left, I think he has a new contract coming going into next season. The following season I would think Matthews would have an extension going in. There is more time to deal with Raji, who I believe signed a longer deal out of the draft. The real question there is Jennings. I'm a big fan of Greg as a person and as a player and saw him at his best in my time there. Obviously this season has not gone as he would have hoped and the Packers have gone on without him. Everything comes with negotiation. The Packers gave him a top market deal a few years ago which let him become a free agent at a young age. Will they give him a second top of market deal? That is yet to be seen. But the signs so far have indicated that he has not been a high priority.
This one bears watching for the rest of the season. As we get closer to free agency, it's much less likely we see a deal.
So far this season the 49ers 1st and 2nd round draft picks have played a combined zero snaps. Do you think they planned that or it's just that they're happy with the veterans? Seems like a waste at the moment.
I think the key to your question, Ernie are the last three words - at the moment. Draft picks are meant to be for a long period of time and play out for years, rather than immediately. With the success of Luck, RGIII and others, we tend to look for immediate results, but that is not happening with some teams. I think the players you refer to with the 9ers, Jenkins and James, they'll have impact, but it may not be this year. The 9ers have Randy Moss on a 1-year deal. Mario Manningham on a 2-year deal. They have Gore who is productive but will decline at some point. That's why these are solid picks. I admire the 49ers for drafting not for immediate need, but for future need. That will serve them well.
When you were in Green Bay did you ever interact directly with Al Davis? I'm curious what your impression of him was compared to the public view of him.
Yes, I was able to see interactions with Mr. Davis, but I certainly was not of the stature to deal with him directly. I watched the GMs deal with him. Even in his advanced years, he was sharp, had a keen sense of players and he loved to talk football. I think the financial side of the game frustrated him. After I left the Packers, I even talked to him about going out there to consult on cap and contracts, but we couldn't work it out. His passion was players. While his head coaches and front office people have felt his wrath, he always loved the players. That's what he was about. I don't think there's anyone quite like him in the NFL right now. The only other owner that I would say is hands on like Jerry Jones would probably be Mike Brown of the Bengals, as well as his son and daughter. That's a long standing tradition of being hands on with that team. I remember dealing with Mike as an agent when I had players on the Bengals. Someone very passionate about the sport.
Great questions as always. One note, I have a column up on ESPN.com right now on players' spending habits as well as families' influence on them. Please check it out. I'll be Tweeting, as usual, @ADBrandt and on OTL at 3 p.m. ET.