Skip to content

Union memo drops strong hint about looming collusion charge

Though the disclosure that the union asked the NFL to extend the current capped system for a year represents the portion of the memo from NFLPA Executive Director De Smith to all players agents that will generate the most attention, there’s a more ominous message in the two paragraphs that follow the articulation of Smith’s desire to freeze the current system in place.

Here’s the full text of the two paragraphs in question:

“The NFLPA just recently won a Special Master decision against the NFL and its clubs which will force the high revenue clubs to share millions of additional dollars with the low revenue, small market clubs during the 2010 season.  The decision to pursue this action was based upon our belief that we had to make more money available to sign players in the uncapped year.

“Remember also that the uncapped year provides just that — no cap or limit on the amount of money a club may spend on player salaries.  The last time there was an uncapped season in the NFL was in 1993, and in that season clubs spent collectively over 70% of league revenue on player costs.  While we cannot predict what will happen in 2010, we suspect that it will be dependent on the individual player and team.  Given the projected increases in NFL revenues for 2010, more money should be available for player salaries than ever before.  In addition, keep in mind that each NFL club will be saving approximately $10 million in benefit costs as a result of their not having to fund certain benefits in the uncapped year.  That money can and should be used for player salaries.”

In other words, Smith is making it clear that, if teams don’t spend significant money on the available free agents and/or players already under contract, the union will have something to say about the matter.  Even if there’s never enough hard evidence to prove collusion, there are other ways that the NFLPA can use a lack of spending on veteran players to instigate controversy.

For example, we believe there could be a rash of high-profile players speaking out about the failure of their respective teams to spend money in order to build competitive rosters.  In this regard, keep a close eye on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a recent arrival to the union effort whose voice would carry plenty of weight in the ongoing effort by the NFLPA to paint the owners as the bad guys in this fight between billionaires and millionaires.

Then there’s the offseason program.  Apart from the reality that many of the restricted free agents who would have been unrestricted free agents will refrain from signing their tender offers and thus staying away from most offseason practices, the players already under contract have every right to boycott the offseason strength and conditioning program and all voluntary offseason practice sessions.

As one agent told Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal regarding restricted free agents, “If they want this fight, let’s have it right now.”  That thinking applies to all other players, too.

So the players can strike without striking, and there’s nothing the NFL can do about it.

Wait, there is.  The NFL can roll up their sleeves and get a new deal done.  A deal that’s fair to everyone.

As we pointed out last week, if there’s enough money to justify paying a former Commissioner $3.3 million more than three years after he retired, there’s more than enough money for the players and owners to share.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Legal, Rumor Mill, Top Stories, Union
29 Responses to “Union memo drops strong hint about looming collusion charge”
  1. The Wishbone says: Feb 23, 2010 1:57 PM

    If “it will be dependent on the individual player and team”, then how can there be collusion? Collusion would be a group effort. It can’t be both.
    This is just more proof that D Smith is a moron. How does he spout this ignorant rhetoric week after week and keep his job?

  2. Catamount says: Feb 23, 2010 1:59 PM

    Maybe he lawyers can be issued nicknames and we can root for one of them.

  3. Doc Fluty says: Feb 23, 2010 1:59 PM

    let the players walk… i would rather see a season lost and a better system set up than keeping things as they are and seeing guys like jamarcus get 60 million while guys like tony gonzo. who is going into the HOF and will never make HALF in a season what that fat qb did

  4. iusedtobeteddybayer says: Feb 23, 2010 1:59 PM

    Leave Tags out of this. He’s a douche but so is the new boss. Whatever deal he got from the league has absolutely nothing to do with a new collective bargaining agreement. Nothing.
    Pro Football Conjecture, perhaps?

  5. VegasBronco says: Feb 23, 2010 2:00 PM

    What collusion charge? In an uncapped year there is no limit on the money paid to players. De Smith wants to say ” the owners still have to spend all their earned money on players” and the owners are saying “extra earned money needs to be used for the development of the team, as in stadium, administration, and future growth.
    NAH Smith, your collusion is with basis, case dismissed.

  6. beyondclarity says: Feb 23, 2010 2:02 PM

    I think we really need a year without football for both sides to realize they need to work together more.
    They’re both like cryin little babies.
    The fact is – the NFL is a business and the owners should be able to run it however they see fit. If the players don’t like the compensation their bosses are offering, they should go work somewhere else.

  7. jamaltimore says: Feb 23, 2010 2:08 PM

    If I was an owner I think I would say the UFL is hiring so that’s changed the dynamics from 1993! Funny that Broken down Mr. Bunchen’s ready to support the Union. I guess the humiliation he had in the beatdown by the Ravens made him realize he’s a lot closer to retirement than any more superbowls. It’s been a great run tommy boy but your deal with the devil is up.
    My feeling is this, if you took the guys off the field today and put their back-ups out there with the same colors people would watch just as much. Would the game be worse probably but it would still be entertaining. I’m guessing we could do without the likes of guys like prima donnas ocho cinco, t.o. favre.etc. More importantly I’d still have lines to bet against every sunday am.
    Another opportuntity would be for them to donate the difference to United way or better yet how about National Debt to support the first black president? Call it the Fritz Pollard FUND! If a CEO of a million or even billion dollar company ain’t worth 8million a year a DE, QB, WR or CB ain’t worth the 10 mill plus they get. Unions in all are a joke and the pro sports are the biggest joke out there. If you don’t believe me ask the retired players how well the union takes care of them! What’s the unions line, the owners should pay!
    I’m just tired of everyone treating the people who run these companies, which an NFL is, as the bad guy! They provide jobs to numerous people and for that they make more money than anyone else. Too bad, start your own company be thankful for the paycheck you have.

  8. Cutler=Tool says: Feb 23, 2010 2:14 PM

    “….So the players can strike without striking, and there’s nothing the NFL can do about it….”
    Actually there is. The teams can fine them for everyday missed from an organized team event. So players will not reap rewards of uncapped season and the JoeShmoes will lose coin for trying to chest thump and hold out.
    There is a reason the owners are billionaires and the athletes are fortunate to be born in a country where their skills earn them mega dollars.
    Don’t confuse the two. The owners have the upper hand. As usual.

  9. shaunypoo says: Feb 23, 2010 2:17 PM

    So De Smith is saying that since there will be more money available, it will be spent, and if it is not spent, then all of you are cheating?
    Sorry, but if all of the players boycott training camp, isn’t that collusion?

  10. FriarBob says: Feb 23, 2010 2:18 PM

    “The NFL can roll up their sleeves and get a new deal done. A deal that’s fair to everyone.”
    So much for your so-called lack of bias. Well it’s not like we were stupid enough to believe you anyway.
    But just like there were two teams in the super bowl, and other qualified players outside the Vikings roster for the season awards, there is a second side in this conflict as well. The players haven’t bent one millimeter. And if they want to work in 2011, they better.
    Maybe it’s not fair, but neither is life. Somebody has to bend first, and unless somebody does then you can’t have a negotiation that “meets in the middle” as just about any successful negotiation — or at least one with any chance of surviving more than a few years — always will. And right now the onus is on the PLAYERS to either offer to bend a minuscule fraction or come up with a plausible alternative. They have done neither. And until they do, then the league has the right to prepare to refuse to employ them.

  11. rsa says: Feb 23, 2010 2:19 PM

    Bring on the replacements. I can live with none of the current players ever stepping foot on the field again.

  12. .VoxVeritas says: Feb 23, 2010 2:19 PM

    “In addition, keep in mind that each NFL club will be saving approximately $10 million in benefit costs as a result of their not having to fund certain benefits in the uncapped year. That money can and should be used for player salaries.”
    There’s one fatal flaw in your argument, NFLPA. Why should any savings experienced by the owners automatically go to the players? Aren’t the owners allowed to save money? This is still the USA, right?
    “For example, we believe there could be a rash of high-profile players speaking out about the failure of their respective teams to spend money in order to build competitive rosters. In this regard, keep a close eye on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a recent arrival to the union effort whose voice would carry plenty of weight in the ongoing effort by the NFLPA to paint the owners as the bad guys in this fight between billionaires and millionaires.”
    He’d just be another talking head, save perhaps anything he might say about the Patriots.
    “the players already under contract have every right to boycott the offseason strength and conditioning program and all voluntary offseason practice sessions.”
    And they have every right to be cut by their teams in a climate where it might not be so easy to find another job paying millions to play a game.
    “Wait, there is. The NFL can roll up their sleeves and get a new deal done. A deal that’s fair to everyone.”
    “Fair to everyone” = “all profits go to the players”, it seems. I mean come on, the league saves a dime in part because the union doesn’t want to agree to a deal and the players think they deserve that dime? Really? Somebody needs a reality check.
    “As we pointed out last week, if there’s enough money to justify paying a former Commissioner $3.3 million more than three years after he retired, there’s more than enough money for the players and owners to share.”
    They’re all willing to share, what’s at stake is how much of the revenue each side thinks it deserves to have. I’m thinking that you don’t want to compare which side squanders more money on crap, the knucklehead players or the businessman owners, and use that as a barometer of anything.

  13. geek says: Feb 23, 2010 2:20 PM

    Very nicely written! I love that phrase, “in this fight between billionaires and millionaires.” It kind of puts the whole thing into perspective.
    I wish I could get paid league minimum salary to workout, play a game I love, hang out mith the guys and sit on a bench during a game. Heck, if I got to play special teams too, that would be a bonus! I’d still be getting paid 10 times what I make now to work 50 weeks out of the year for 40 hours per week! I may not be at risk of injury to the same degree they are, but come on. If I lived my current lifestyle, league minimum salary over 5 years would be enough to retire on and be happy. The players to get their share of the pie, but in the end they could lose half of the available money and still be better off than most Americans.

  14. Bill In DC says: Feb 23, 2010 2:27 PM

    LOL, does anyone really think that the Owner’s give a rats ass if players don’t sign their RFA tenders and others don’t attend ‘voluntary’ camps?
    This is really pretty high on the ‘pathetic response’ level from the union. If that’s the best they’ve got the players better get used to working for minimum wage because their union is worthless.

  15. chgolaw says: Feb 23, 2010 2:28 PM

    You are such a Union hack….
    Goodall makes $3.3 million? The Union paid $16 MILLION to someone not even there (the estate of Gene Upshaw). How much money is David Stern or Bud Selig — comissioners of two inferior leagues — getting? Do you really think any fan cares what Tom Brady is going to say about any lockout? Do you think anybody will care if Aubray Franklin only gets $7 million as compared to $10M?
    Maybe if there is such concern about what the league will spend, the Union should role up their sleeves, shut their mouths, and get a deal done.

  16. shaunypoo says: Feb 23, 2010 2:42 PM

    If I were an owner, which I am not (just to make that clear), I wouldn’t spend a whole lot this season. The cap MAY go away, and Smith says if it goes away, it won’t come back, but does that make it true?
    I spend alot of money because there is no cap, then eventually there is a cap again, what steps do I have to take or penalties do I pay to get back under the cap? I don’t think any owner really wants to find out. Snyder or Jones seem like the most likely culprits, but I think everyone is going to operate like there is still an invisible cap right around where it was this last season.
    That makes good business sense, not collusion.

  17. Mike Florio says: Feb 23, 2010 2:45 PM

    @chglolaw . . .
    really? you think the $3.3 million refers to Goodell?
    really?
    to borrow a quote that many of you have directed to me:
    “your an idiot.”

  18. reddog9 says: Feb 23, 2010 2:48 PM

    The owners are businessmen first. Thus, without a cap they can choose to spend even more or far less than prior seasons……..What if a team manages to spend only $60-70M, but still makes the playoffs. Is that somehow wrong? It is only wrong if you are a clueless union drone or a baffoon like De Smith.
    Florio – How on earth do you make the leap that because Tags was paid $3.3M or just over $100K per team, there is plenty of money for both sides to make a deal? There may be plenty of money to make a deal, but not because Tags received a consulting fee of about $100K per team……….

  19. reddog9 says: Feb 23, 2010 2:49 PM

    The owners are businessmen first. Thus, without a cap they can choose to spend even more or far less than prior seasons……..What if a team manages to spend only $60-70M, but still makes the playoffs. Is that somehow wrong? It is only wrong if you are a clueless union drone or a baffoon like De Smith.
    Florio – How on earth do you make the leap that because Tags was paid $3.3M or just over $100K per team, there is plenty of money for both sides to make a deal? There may be plenty of money to make a deal, but not because Tags received a consulting fee of about $100K per team……….

  20. danlinker says: Feb 23, 2010 3:49 PM

    Why would Brady’s voice carry a lot of weight? Because you Florio are in love with him? He cheats, he’s arrogant, and he looks like a little spoiled brat when things don’t go his way. Not someone I would want speaking for me.
    Not so many people think he is some kind of god the way you do.

  21. Zaggs says: Feb 23, 2010 3:52 PM

    “The NFL can roll up their sleeves and get a new deal done.”
    Or the NFLPA could actually rish a paper cut and respond to the leagues latest offer with a counter offer. I guess Floor-Boy has figured DeSmith is just going for federal interference and Floor needs to support him and his boy Obama.
    The NFL cannot get a deal done with a group who favors not having a deal in place. it is truly that simple.

  22. patpatriotagain says: Feb 23, 2010 4:00 PM

    geek says:
    I wish I could get paid league minimum salary to workout, play a game I love, hang out mith the guys and sit on a bench during a game.
    would you willingly get paid $400,000 to suffer acl tears, high ankle sprains, broken legs, arms, and suffer numerous concussions which will likely lead to alzheimer’s? seriously, do you actually think that the only thing nfl players do is hang out and drink?

  23. patpatriotagain says: Feb 23, 2010 4:04 PM

    danlinker? really tom brady cheats. Even the belichick cheat card has been overplayed, but brady? That’s about stupid. being a two-time sb mvp probably would carry some weight, but not in your imaginary world i suppose

  24. braindead says: Feb 23, 2010 4:14 PM

    Wow, some observations;
    PFT is clearly on the side of the NFLPA
    Florio once again shows his Brady man crush
    I love pro football, but I have no sympathy for any of these over paid, no brain idiots. I want to see a year with no football. Screw ‘em. I’ve got better things to do anyway. Do they (players and owners) think we can’t live without pro football? News break boys! We can. it’s called life. I’ve got one! If you don’t, then I suggest you get one!

  25. Bell63 says: Feb 23, 2010 4:15 PM

    danlinker says: February 23, 2010 3:49 PM
    Why would Brady’s voice carry a lot of weight? Because you Florio are in love with him?
    Because outside of the delusional little world you live in, Brady is one of, if not the most, famous people currently in the NFL. You really have to be devoid of any critical thinking skills to not see how this translates to having a large voice in all things league related.

  26. LionsFaninMa says: Feb 23, 2010 4:20 PM

    Let’s wait and see if there will be any collusion accusations after Manning, Brees, and Brady all get new deals. There’s $300M+ worth of contract value right there!

  27. goyogana says: Feb 23, 2010 4:35 PM

    @chglolaw . . .
    really? you think the $3.3 million refers to Goodell?
    really?
    to borrow a quote that many of you have directed to me:
    “your an idiot.”
    Florio I may agree here, but you being a journalist and all shouldn’t you know:
    “your an idiot” is wrong and it’s really “you’re an idiot”?
    Love the site by the way!

  28. .VoxVeritas says: Feb 23, 2010 7:25 PM

    “Florio I may agree here, but you being a journalist and all shouldn’t you know:”
    “your an idiot” is wrong and it’s really “you’re an idiot”?
    Florio said that he was borrowing a quote that’s often directed at him. Since 90% of PFT posters couldn’t pass a sixth grade spelling test and don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, looks to me like he nailed it.

  29. Mike Florio says: Feb 23, 2010 8:58 PM

    @goyogana and .VoxVeritas . . . .
    yes, “your an idiot” is an homage to those who call me an idiot with idiotic grammar.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!