Why NFL Players Can’t Hold Off on the Holdouts – (CSC) Saints News

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Saints News Network |  | New Orleans Saints Exceptional players stuck in their rookie scale
contracts have their predecessors to blame for their current salary
landscape. Until the next collective bargaining agreement takes
place after the 2020 season, there’s going to be a lot more holding
out as it has become their only form of negotiating
leverage.

I was watching ESPN the
other day — as is common practice — and I got totally sucked in by
a debate among Bill Polian, Tedy
Bruschi
, and Adam Schefter. Bruschi and Schefter were
going through the NFL’s notable list of 2018 players who are
currently holding out for new contracts. They argued in favor of
players, like David
Johnson
and Aaron
Donald
, who have clearly out performed their rookie
contracts.

Polian, a Hall of Fame
general manager, became almost ornery when broaching the subject.

“Everyone who has a contract is
obligated to honor that contract. Just because they want a new
contract doesn’t mean they should get one. They have a contract to
honor. They are not free agents. The CBA allows them to have free
agency. They have not yet reached free agency. They do not have a
contractual right to abrogate their contracts.”

The debate continued as Bruschi intimated that the
Rookie Wage Scale, which was implemented in the 2011 Collective
Bargaining Agreement, was unfair towards young players who excel
early in their careers.

Polian
countered with little empathy. “Tell them to call their union, D.
Smith (DeMaurice Smith). He’s the one that negotiated this
agreement. He’s the one that did it. I didn’t do it, Roger Goodall
didn’t do it, Rich McKay didn’t do it, nobody on management side
did this. D. Smith agreed to it.”

Since the CBA was agreed upon in 2011, many up and
coming players today weren’t in the league yet and didn’t have a
voice or vote on the matter. Bruschi understood this. “These
players didn’t. This is their only recourse though,” he
offered.

Polian remained unmoved.
“I’m not arguing with that. What I’m saying is they don’t have a
right to do this, they are taking some risk to do this. They are
not entitled to get a new contract.” What risks are we talking
about here?

First, players are fined
up to $30,000 a day for missing mandatory team activities like
training camp. Teams can choose to void those fines like the LA
Rams
did for reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. But,
usually players are willing to risk a couple hundred thousand bucks
if it means they can enter a more lucrative contract earlier in the
prime of their career.

Donald
royally screwed up though, or should I say, he got some bad advice
from his agent. Because Donald failed to report to the team by the
league mandated report date in early August of 2017, he failed to
accrue a fourth year of tenure, even though he appeared in 14 games
of the 2017 season. What does this mean?

If Donald chooses to holdout past August 7 of 2018,
he will again fail to accrue a fourth year of tenure no matter how
many games he plays this season. That will mean he is not eligible
to become a free agent after his fifth year option expires next
year.

He would only be a restricted
free agent which would allow the Rams to match any offer from the
open market. Donald, the premier defensive tackle in the league,
would not be able to choose his next team when his second contract
comes around.

There are veteran
players like Rob
Gronkowski
, Julio
Jones
, and Earl
Thomas
, who, in my opinion, are acting like little brats
by holding out before the completion of their second contracts. I
hate it when players agree to a contract and then bitch about how
much they are paid when players sign larger contracts after them.

<

p id=”iIrQIv”>The nature of the market is such
that a player’s contract sets a new standard for pay at that
position going forward. Of course people who sign contracts after
you are going to get more. If you keep playing well, you too can
negotiate a new third deal to keep the show on the road.

A major argument in favor of player holdouts,
however, stems from the use of fifth year options on first round
picks. Players like Ndamukong
Suh
who perform well from the beginning are sure to have
their fifth year option exercised by their team, after which a
franchise
tag
could be placed on them for three years
consecutively.

Therefore, it’s
possible for an elite first round pick player to never control
their own destiny until their ninth year in the league. The average
NFL career spans three and a half years, less than the length of
drafted rookie contracts.

Fifth-year
options came into existence with the 2011 CBA following a general
uproar from clubs over vast amounts of money being guaranteed to
first round picks who had yet to prove themselves. The Sam
Bradford
s and Jamarcus Russells had NFL executives
freaking out over incoming rookie salaries.

Polian, himself, was a staunch supporter of a
revamped rookie wage scale back in 2010. “We need to change the
rookie system because to have, for example, Sam Bradford paid $50
Million in guaranteed money for never having taken a snap in the
National Football League is just wrong. That money should go to
veteran players who have earned it in the National Football League.
That’s a very stark example, but it exists. It’s there, and it
needs to be changed.”

During
negotiations, the players pitched a fifth-year option that would
make the fifth-year salary comparative to top veteran, not rookie,
contracts. Picks 1-16 would have a fifth-year option of a
transition tag formula of the top 10 average salaries at their
position. Picks 17-32 would have a fifth-year option to the top
15-20 average salaries at their position.

The owners, not surprisingly, pitched a more fixed
and lower cost to the fifth-year option. Picks 1-8 would fetch
roughly $9 Million. Picks 9-16 would get roughly $7 Million, while
picks 17-32 would receive a level equivalent to the average salary
at their respective positions.

According to the CBA, a player’s position is
determined by where he took the most snaps during his third league
year. As many Saints
fans remember, this fine point was argued by tight end Jimmy
Graham
as he sought wide receiver type money on his
second contract.

Drafted players get
a four-year deal, and first round picks have a fifth-year option
that their teams must exercise between the player’s third and
fourth years. Undrafted free agents have the same rookie wage
scale, but are only eligible for three year contracts.

The final agreement between the NFLPA and the
owners made the fifth year salaries determined by draft position.
The first 10 picks earn salaries equal to the average of the 10
highest salaries at their position. This is good for top picks like
Khalil
Mack
, who can still earn a hefty $13.8 Million in his
fifth year, assuming he reports to duty.

Yet, he believes he’s worth more, and after watching
the Raiders
commit to substantial financial contracts with Derek
Carr
and Gabe
Jackson
, perhaps Mack just wants to feel prioritized. He
could be gambling with the wrong hustler, however. Newly returned
and seemingly out of touch head coach Jon Gruden doesn’t play well
with holdouts.

Another major
implication from the rookie wage scale in the 2011 CBA is that
highly drafted and highly performing players miss out on maximizing
their earnings during the peak of their career.

Writer for The Big Lead, Jason
Lisk
, called it perfectly. “I could see scenarios where
teams tell a player “why should I renegotiate when I get you so
cheap in year 5” and then turn around at age 28 and say “why should
I sign you to a long term deal when you are on decline?”

Incoming rookies who never had a say in 2011,
but are affected today, are responding in different ways. The Chargers
2016 number three overall pick Joey
Bosa
held himself out for the first four games of his
rookie season as he negotiated contract terms including bonuses and
offset language. He ended up getting four years guaranteed and the
largest signing bonus in franchise history.

2018 32nd overall pick, Lamar Jackson, didn’t even
retain a traditional agent like Bosa. He used his mom. “I know
coming in as a rookie, agents don’t really negotiate anything
really,” the final first rounder said. “You’re going to get the
salary you’re going to get, or whatever, and I decided I don’t need
him. He’s going to be taking a big cut of my paycheck anyway, and I
feel I deserve it right now.”

Jackson eventually negotiated a four year deal worth
$9,471,823, of which $4,968,598 is a signing bonus that is speed
over the four year period. Of course, teams value drafting
quarterbacks in the latter half of the first round because then
they can use the fifth year option to retain the player for another
year without having to potentially break the bank on a long term
extension after the fourth year.

Long story short, the players are going to need to
address the rookie wage scale when they step back to the collective
bargaining table following the 2020 NFL season. Hopefully the NFL
won’t be benefiting from another guaranteed explosion in television
deal money like they were in 2011. Because they weren’t financially
dependent on the season actually taking place in 2011, players bent
on important issues more than they would have if they had more
leverage in pursuing a strike.

Cerebral players like Richard
Sherman
are already counseling younger players to save
their money for 2020, because it’s clear the 2011 CBA overly
corrected to problem of guarantee rookie salaries and paved the way
for players like Alvin
Kamara
to be paid far short of their actual value during
what could very well be the prime of their careers.

Of course as a fan, and pretend GM, I love the
though of having Kamara on the books for four years on the cheap,
but it’s simply not fair for these players who weren’t even present
to negotiate this terrible deal in the first
place.

www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2018/6/18/17466922/why-nfl-players-cant-hold-off-on-the-holdouts-espn-aaron-donald-jimmy-graham-julio-jones

 

Read the Canal Street Chronicles article: www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2018/6/18/17466922/why-nfl-players-cant-hold-off-on-the-holdouts-espn-aaron-donald-jimmy-graham-julio-jones

#SAINTSNEWS #SAINTS #NOLA #CSC

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