As I made a daily entry into my NFL vs. NFLPA notebook on Friday, I found myself writing the same thing: nothing new to add for this day, May 13, 2011. I decided to take a look at the most recent history and dates, while bringing you forward to the current situation and pending issues.
In January, DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell met today in New York to discuss a range of issues related to a new CBA. As part of the process to intensify negotiations, they agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams Saturday in Dallas, the day before the Super Bowl. They also agreed to a series of meetings over the next few weeks, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings in an effort to reach a new agreement by early March.
With the ground rules being laid and changing every day, this was the same day on which the NFLPA made a statement “Let Us Play” ad that was created last week and scheduled to run on CBS College Sports Network the day before the Super Bowl, but was rejected.
In February, the NFLPA and NFL presented arguments to U.S. District Judge David Doty in Minneapolis as the Players Association appealed a previous ruling by special master Stephen Burbank. The players allowed the NFL (owners) to negotiate television contracts on their behalf. Since the money from those contracts is part of the Total Revenues shared between the owners and players, the Settlement Agreement obligates the NFL to use its best efforts to maximize revenues.
The NFLPA challenged a split ruling handed down by Burbank on Feb. 1, saying the NFL clearly negotiated television contracts without using “good faith” and “best efforts” to achieve deals that mutually benefitted the players and owners during the term of the Reggie White settlement agreement. In 2008 and 2009, the owners reopened the network contracts and demanded new lockout payment provisions from the networks, forcing them to pay the NFL during the 2011 season even if no games are played, and the NFL could repay the networks over the life of the contract.
Smith and the NFLPA stated that when the NFL built its $4 billion “Lockout Insurance” fund, it violated its obligation to the Players by acting in complete self-interest and leaving money on the table.
With the intense issue on maintaining player safety, an article concerning brain trauma and the long-term effects of concussions by Luna Shy of National Geographic shows that repetitive small blows to the head could lead to brain degeneration and long-term behavioral and cognitive problems. That put the revenue issues in perspective.
In March, a landmark ruling by Federal Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York issued an injunction requiring all NFL teams and owners to stop seeking to reduce the worker compensation benefits due to former NFL players as a result of injuries they suffered while playing the game.
While the NFLPA won an earlier ruling on this issue, teams and owners ignored the decision in workers compensation cases around the country. The Federal Court found this to be unlawful and has ordered teams to continue paying these former players the injury benefits to which they are entitled.
While the players are still looking for justification for this owner-imposed lockout, the major statement from the NFLPA for a long time was “show us the books.” The owners refused to open the books to the NFLPA, let alone having all teams see them.
In April, a lockout economic impact study was released, saying that $20-21 Million is the local economic activity generated by a single NFL game. Over eight games (excluding preseason and playoffs), that’s $160 million per year per market and $5.1 billion total earned by peripheral businesses.
Throughout the NFL, there are over 100,000 stadium workers who are affected by a lockout, $6.972 billion in revenue paid by the public toward the $13.146 billion total construction costs of NFL stadiums built since 1990, an average of $250 million per venue.
Monday night (April 25), Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued the ruling on Brady, et al. vs. NFL and granted an injunction to lift the lockout. Two days later, Judge Nelson wrote a 20-page decision denying the NFL’s request to stay (delay) the injunction she had issued on Monday. The decision denying the stay is once again very strong, and rejected all of the NFL’s arguments. Accordingly, the order ending the lockout is in full, immediate force.
The NFL has filed for an emergency stay with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, while the Eighth Circuit considers the NFL’s stay request through the appeal.
While several players around the NFL showed up for work on Tuesday (April 26), team officials meet them at the front door, or in some cases they were walked to a conference room and were given notice that the facility was not open to them, and remains off limits.
The next big step in the litigation process will take place at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit No: 11-1898 Tom Brady, et al. Appellees v. National Football League, et al. Appellants. The motion of appellants National Football League, et al., for an expedited appeal in this matter is granted.
The hearing panel consisting of Judges Bye, Colloton, and Benton, will hear oral arguments at 10:00 a.m. CDT on Friday, June 3, 2011, in the En Banc Courtroom on Floor 28 of the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse in St. Louis.
The only major event that is still waiting to kick off is free agency. In order for this to happen the lockout must be lifted. Unknown is what rules will be set by the NFL that will affect both unrestricted and restricted free agents based off accrued seasons.
The accrued season calculation: A player shall receive one accrued season for each season during which he was on or should have been on, full pay status for a total of six or more regular season games, but which, irrespective of the player’s pay status, shall not include games for which the player was on – the Exempt Commissioner Permission List, the Reserve PUP list as a result of a non-football injury, or a Club’s Practice or Developmental Squad.
In 2009 and in prior years, players with four accrued seasons or more were eligible to be unrestricted free agents. Players with three accrued seasons were restricted free agents, and players with less than three accrued seasons were exclusive-rights free agent.
Restricted free agents are given tenders at varying levels depending on the draft-choice compensation that would occur if an offer sheet wasn’t matched.
In 2010, what was an uncapped year, eligibility for unrestricted free agency moved to six accrued seasons, making players with four and five accrued seasons restricted free agents.
As teams scrambled to tag players with the franchise tag, all this took place prior to the lockout and the mediation process. Teams went about their business regardless of the unknown of new CBA rules. Their approach was to tag them, and if the rules changed they would live with the new rule parameters. The following players are those that were tagged:
LB LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers (non-exclusive)
OG Logan Mankins, New England Patriots (non-exclusive)
QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (exclusive)
LB David Harris, New York Jets (non-exclusive)
WR Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers (non-exclusive)
DT Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens (non-exclusive)
QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (exclusive)
LB Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs (non-exclusive)
LB Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings (non-exclusive)
K Phil Dawson, Cleveland Browns (non-exclusive)
C Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers (non-exclusive)
TE Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars (non-exclusive)
OLB Kamerion Wimbley, Oakland Raiders (non-exclusive)
NT Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins (non-exclusive)
From that group, numerous players signed their tags before the start of the lockout: Ngata, Kalil, Soliai, Greenway, Harris, Wimbley, Vick and Woodley.
Several players that were scheduled to become free agents at the end of the season were not allowed to sign contract extensions with their team because any player whose salary escalated at a higher rate than 30 percent from 2009 to 2010 was precluded from signing an extension.
A non-exclusive tagged player is allowed to negotiate with other teams. The player’s original team has a right to match that offer. If it does not match the offer and loses the player, they are rewarded with two first-round draft picks as compensation. All figures below are in millions:
Quarterback – $17.097, Running Back – $9.867, Wide Receiver – $11.933, Tight End – $7.385, Offensive Line – $10.576, Defensive End – $13.105, Defensive Tackle – $12.749, Linebacker – $10.291, Cornerback – $14.574, Safety – $9.685, Punter/Kicker – $3.26.
The following outside linebackers listed below would fit the Steve Spagnuolo defense, and bring leadership and credibility to a young defense and locker room. The order of the list will change based off new rules but player evaluation remains the same.
Chad Greenway, OLB, Vikings Age 28
Greenway is my highest graded outside linebacker. He overcame a major knee injury his rookie season, he is versatile to play both outside positions which are interchangeable. A downhill thumper with great football instincts and eyes to flow laterally, with nose for the ball carrier. Very good playmaking ability and read reaction quickness and awareness in space man coverage skills. Unfortunately for the Rams he was franchised by Vikings and signed his tender.
Rocky McIntosh, OLB, Redskins Age 28 (five accrued seasons)
A talent that just doesn’t fit in the Jim Haslett 3-4 defense; has the size and athletic ability, along with toughness and competitiveness to walk in and make a difference in the Spagnuolo 4-3 defense and a core contributor on special teams.
James Anderson, OLB, Panthers Age 27 (five accrued seasons)
I was the college director with Carolina when Anderson was drafted from Virginia Tech. An athletic outside linebacker that plays the weak side, he was forced to the strong side in 2010 because of injuries. Tough and competitive, he had a very good year at strong-side linebacker, recording 130 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole knows this player well, and would bring speed to the defense.
David Vobora, OLB, Rams Age 25 (three accrued seasons)
He has a huge heart and is extremely competitive and is a core special teams standout. As the vice president of the Rams’ personnel department, we drafted Vobora in the seventh round because he would fill out the depth, and he has excelled past expectations. He started the final four games of the 2010 season at strong-side linebacker. He filled in well in an emergency situation, but lacks the in-space, run down and coverage ability for the weak side. Tendered by Rams (original pick compensation).
Will Herring, OLB, Seahawks, Age 28 (four accrued seasons)
I like this athletic outside linebacker that plays well in the lateral game. He struggles at the point of attack consistently and has adequate coverage skills. A standout core special teams player, he would add depth, but is not a front-line outside linebacker.
With a free agency start time still up in the air, it will be very interesting once the rules are announced and how they will effect free agency moving forward.