City Sports Report

A Win-Win Scenario, Sort Of by Marc “Razz” Rasbury

Newton knows he will not be making what last year's first overall pick, Sam Bradford, made with his rookie contract.
Donovan McNabb will be on the move again this season.

Donovan McNabb will be on the move again this season.Newton knows he will not be making what last year's first overall pick, Sam Bradford, made with his rookie contract.

That collective sigh of relief you heard on Monday was everyone associated with the game of football exhaling after hearing the news that the NFL owners and the NFLPA agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.  It took over four months.  Some felt that it should have never taken that long to consummate this deal.  For the most part, everybody saw this as a win-win proposition.  Some do not share the same sentiment.  All that matters now is that we will have football and all is well in the pigskin world.

Like the old Rolling Stones’ lyric “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you get what you need.”  That’s basically what transpired as a result of these negotiations.  The owners got to keep more of the total revenue this money-making machine brings in, while the players got better benefits and work conditions.

It is funny how the general media is wasting time debating which side won this epic battle, REALLY, Does it matter?  Both parties walked away securing their main-line items and we will have football this fall.

The owners claimed that they needed to implement a new economic model to ensure that the League continues to generate the gross national product-impacting revenue that we have come to expect from the NFL.  Last year the NFL brought in $9 billion, and that number could reach $12-$16 billion over the next five seasons based on the proposed profits from increased television contracts, paraphernalia products and social media streams.  Although the players agreed to accept a lower percentage, 49% from 57%, that 49% will now also include additional revenue from the NFL Network and social media streams.  The pie will be bigger so the players will still get more than they would have received from the old CBA.

In exchange for the reduction of the percentage of the pie, the NFLPA was granted better work conditions and benefits for former, current and future players.  The current players will no longer have to endure the two-a-day practices and the League will reduce the number of off-season mandatory and voluntary work outs, thus giving the players’ bodies a chance to recover from the previous season.

The League also agreed to pay $600 million into the retired players’ medical plans for those who retired after 1993.  They will also contribute $10 million to the medical plans for the players who retired before 1993. 

The future players will benefit from the aforementioned new-line items.  However, they may have been the sacrificial lambs of this new CBA.  The one thing that both the owners and the NFLPA agreed upon from the very beginning was the need to reel in the ever-escalating rookie contracts.  Last year’s first overall pick, Sam Bradford, signed a $70 million contract, with $50 million guaranteed, before he took his first snap as an NFL QB.  In order for to make cap room to sign Bradford, the Rams had to cut some of their existing players or reduce others’ salaries.  This hasn’t sat well with veteran players for quite some time, so everybody knew the rookie contracts were going to be reduced significantly.

This year’s top overall pick, Cam Newton, already knows the most he could expect to sign is a contract with $25 million guaranteed over five years.  However, should the Carolina Panthers like what they see and decide to pick up the team option in the third year, Newton’s base salary will be bumped up to $14 million per year for the last two years of the contract.   If Newton lives up to the potential most see in him, he will be paid accordingly. If he does not, the Panthers can cut their losses in the third year.  I know that the Oakland Raiders wished that this rule was in effect when they had to deal with JaMarcus Russell.  No one is going to cry for the rookies except perhaps for their families, entourages and agents.

The best part of this clause is that most of the money they would have given the unproven rookies will go to the proven veterans who once would have been cap casualties under the old CBA.

Another victory for both parties is the salary cap ceiling and floor. The owners got a salary cap ceiling, where no team can spend more than $120 million.  Therefore, the large-market teams can not outspend the smaller-market teams like in baseball.  This should keep the competitive balance, which gives any team a chance to turn their fortunes around from year to year.

The players also got a prize with the salary cap floor, which mandates that each team must spend at least $89 million each year on players’ salaries.  There are teams that spent only $49 million last year in this area.  Now each team must step up to the plate, cough up the cash and pay the players. This should also give more money to the proven veterans.

Now most current players will capitalize on this new agreement, while some will fall victim as a result of it.  There are some free agents who will have a Brinks truck back up into their driveway.  The Jets’ Santonio Holmes is one of those unrestricted free agents who will strike rich within the next week. The Jets have made it known that Holmes is their top priority. However, several other teams will be making offers to the Jets wide receiver, driving up the price. Gang Green’s main competition for Holmes’ services will be the Washington Redskins. However, do you think it will be wise for Holmes to take his talents to DC with their QB situation?

Some fans are begging the Jets to find a way to bring in Nnamdi Asomugha to team him with Darrelle Revis.  While they may make up the best cornerback tandem in NFL history, Gang Green will be better served spending their money shoring up the defensive line and adding depth to their safety core.  Listen, Asomugha would not have prevented the Pittsburgh Steelers from running through the Rex Ryan’s defense in the AFC Championship game, but a solid safety or better defensive line would have. The Jets also need to add an impact wide receiver if they can’t resign Holmes or Braylon Edwards, who is also asking for top money.

The Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw is also looking for a big pay day.  Speaking of the Giants, some of Bradshaw’s teammates have not fared so well thus far.  Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara were informed that they would be released by the end of the week. The Dallas Cowboys released Marion Barber and Roy Williams. The Ravens released Derrick Mason and Willis McGahee.

All of these players were salary cap casualties. Now these big-name players may be brought back at a lower salary or will be signed by another team.  Their respective teams were all over the $120 million salary cap and needed to get way under that number so that they can participate in this free agent frenzy.

When I say frenzy, I’m mean a “frenzy”.  Since teams were not able to talk to players during the lockout, they were not able to sign any players or make trades.  Now they have to squeeze four months worth of activities into two weeks in order to have enough players for their training camps.  Already the Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tavaris Jackson signed with the Seattle Seahawks.  The Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson resigned with the club at a price tag of $76 million. The Redskins mercifully traded Donavan McNabb to the Vikings. That was just a sample of the madhouse that took place during the first day of free agency and trade activities.

One of my friends use to have a saying, “You win some. You lose some.  But you surely will get some.”  That is what took place here.  Both sides got what they wanted.  Most players, past and present, will benefit from this new CBA.  The rookies will get a larger piece of the pie once they prove themselves.  A handful of players may become salary cap victims, but even most of them will land on their feet.  The signings and trades will come at a transaction per minute and a fast and furious pace.  Overall, everybody, including the fans, won here.  Now we can focus on strategy of football vs. the business of football.

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