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Fate of unsigned RFAs could hinge on next CBA

More than a few Chargers fans who have no qualms about the inconsistent messages being sent by a General Manager who seems to be more interested in sending messages than fielding the best possible roster of players have asked us about a portion of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that appears, on the surface, to provide the team with even more leverage against left tackle Marcus McNeill and receiver Vincent Jackson.

Article XIX, Section 2(h)(5)(iii) of the CBA provides as follows:  “If a Restricted Free Agent does not play in the NFL in a League Year, his Prior Team shall have the right to tender such player any Qualifying Offer consistent with Section 2(b) prior to the next League Year’s Restricted Free Agent Signing Period.”  As written, this means that, if McNeill and/or Jackson sit out the entire season, they’ll be restricted free agents again in 2011.

But here’s the catch.  As of March 1, 2011, the current labor deal expires.  A new agreement will eventually be negotiated.  And in that agreement specific thresholds will be identified for restricted and unrestricted free agency.

McNeill, who has four years of service, and Jackson, who has five, got caught in the gears of the uncapped year, which pushed eligibility for unrestricted free agency from four years to six.  The new CBA most likely won’t continue to hinge the ability to hit the open market on six years of service.  And so the question will be whether the magic number reverts to four, as it was from 1993 through 2009, or whether it increases to five.

If it stays at four, McNeill and Jackson each will be unrestricted.  If it moves to five, Jackson will be free and McNeill won’t.

Either way, the new CBA will account for the situation — and it’s highly unlikely that the league will insist on a provision that exempts Jackson and/or McNeill from free agency simply because they opted to sit out a full year.

The same analysis applies to Patriots guard Logan Mankins, who has five years of service and who may sit out the entire season.  Even with the juice that Pats owner Bob Kraft possesses, it would be a surprise if the league pushes for a provision that would force players who have paid their dues to spend a second year under the weight of a hole in the uncapped year that will have served its purpose by the time a new labor deal has been finalized.

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18 Responses to “Fate of unsigned RFAs could hinge on next CBA”
  1. Montana at Hart says: Aug 29, 2010 11:43 PM

    Unless the Union rolls over on this issue, they will all be unrestricted free agents. Since they got caught in an uncapped year, the new agreement should include a provision which makes all the players who got caught UFA’s regardless of the new agreement. That is, the Union should insist any player who would have been UFA’s this year will be a UFA as soon as the new agreeement takes effect.
    Not only should the Union demand this, there is no reasonable negotiating position to deny this demand…unless AJ sits on the management side. Management cannot get a new agreement which restricts players who should have been UFA’s under the old agreement. Not only should they all be UFA’s, the Union should insist they cannot be franshised or traded or anything – AJ will end up losing both of his ProBowlers.

  2. shoe says: Aug 29, 2010 11:46 PM

    We are long overdue for an arrest

  3. BigBear123 says: Aug 29, 2010 11:47 PM

    Think if anything the owners will use the prossibility of keeping the current holdouts tied up as a bargaining chip.
    Players don’t honor their contracts anyways.

  4. Nosredna says: Aug 30, 2010 12:07 AM

    My opinion, if a player refuses to honor his contract, he should be tied to the team he played for period. Meaning the team gets compensated by whatever team signs the player, whether it be another player, money, draft pick or whatever. If what is offered is not good enough, they player CANNOT sign with a new team.
    If they did something like that, it would help stop these idiots that think they are better than their contracts (ie Revis and Jackson) and they would be more likely to actually man up and play!

  5. kmynatt says: Aug 30, 2010 12:08 AM

    why should the players honor their contract when the teams dont? if a player under performs the team can simply cut them but if they vastly out play it (revis) they dont want to give them a raise.

  6. Shamrock says: Aug 30, 2010 12:28 AM

    And so the question will be whether the magic number reverts to four, as it was from 1993 through 2009, or whether it increases to five.
    ~~~~
    No. The question is whether that clause will appear in the next CBA or not. The years of service don’t matter. If a player does not complete his RFA season then he will be an RFA again the next year.
    Florio is out to lunch on this one. Big time.

  7. Shamrock says: Aug 30, 2010 12:33 AM

    The same analysis applies to Patriots guard Logan Mankins, who has five years of service and who may sit out the entire season. Even with the juice that Pats owner Bob Kraft possesses, it would be a surprise if the league pushes for a provision that would force players who have paid their dues to spend a second year under the weight of a hole in the uncapped year that will have served its purpose by the time a new labor deal has been finalized.
    ~~~~~
    Florio just doesn’t get it. Owners WILL insist this clause remain in place, because they won’t want to see 200+ RFA’s sit out the season if there is another uncapped end of CBA season. Why should any top level player risk a season for less than market value if they know they get a free ride to UFA status just by sitting at home for 12 months?

  8. Steve W. says: Aug 30, 2010 12:47 AM

    BigBear123 says: August 29, 2010 11:47 PM
    Think if anything the owners will use the prossibility of keeping the current holdouts tied up as a bargaining chip.
    Players don’t honor their contracts anyways.
    _____________________________________
    Not much of a bargaining chip, as there are only 3 restricted free agents holding out. The Revis situation is completely different. The NFLPA will not make major concessions to protect these three. It would still be stupid for the league to go after them in the cba negotiations, however, as it creates animosity with the players for no real gain. In other words, the fate of three restricted free agents is too small of an issue for either the league or the NFLPA to bother with. As for players not honoring their contracts, there are far more that never get the opportunity to honor their contract than refuse to do so. Why do you think everyone focuses on the guaranteed money in contracts? Because that’s all a player can coun’t on. Those contracts with huge final year payouts tend to be more for bragging rights than anything else. Teams normally get the players to sign a new contract before that year’s salary comes due, or they release them.

  9. baracuda says: Aug 30, 2010 12:54 AM

    Labor law dictates that the previous rules (of 4 years to be UFA) will go into effect for the period in which the CBA expires. NFLPA can decertify and file suits like White v ; Brown v ; McNeil v and the Union will have leverage unless players sell their marketing rights again like when Ornstein went around with the owners bag of cash and paid off the newly formed QB club, Lott, Marcus Allen and every greedy USC star player and force Uphaw to cut a deal that ultimately was beneficial to players.

  10. Nosredna says: Aug 30, 2010 1:19 AM

    # kmynatt says: August 30, 2010 12:08 AM
    why should the players honor their contract when the teams dont? if a player under performs the team can simply cut them but if they vastly out play it (revis) they dont want to give them a raise.
    ________________________________
    No different in business in the real world. XYZ employee is hired by ABC company, signs a contract, yet is expected to fulfill their end of it while the company itself can terminate the contract at any given time.
    Welcome to the real world kmynatt!

  11. BP says: Aug 30, 2010 3:56 AM

    A player with a brain and an agent who actually cares about them would sign whatever reasonable deal they can make NOW. Because, once the owners get done with them they will wish they had.
    When push comes to shove the owners will put a contract on the table and say sign it or you won’t be playing football. They are either going to leash this union – or break it. Meanwhile they will all be at the counting house counting their TV money.

  12. djeg07 says: Aug 30, 2010 6:34 AM

    thought if they sat out they lost a year of service time? regardless the morons that sit out, wanting a new deal before theirs is up or sit out wanting a bigger contract for average play (ie mankins, jackson, antonio bryant too) need to be made examples of an rules put into the cba to prevent it. each sport has a unique pay scale or system, all have issues but damn nfl lets get one that everyone else will be jealous of.

  13. SF Saints Fan says: Aug 30, 2010 8:58 AM

    Florio,
    I know you went to law school. This is how they will word it, more or less, to take care of this issue:
    Article XIX, Section blah, blah, blah, of the “new” CBA provides as follows:
    “If a Restricted Free Agent under the prior CBA (as defined in Section whatever) was a Restricted Free Agent during the Final League Year of the prior CBA and did not play in the NFL in the Final League Year of the prior CBA, his Prior Team shall have the right to tender such player any Qualifying Offer consistent with Section 2(b) prior to the next League Year’s Restricted Free Agent Signing Period.”

  14. pacstud says: Aug 30, 2010 9:23 AM

    Since King D-Bag insists on doing more than being the parrot he is (just report what gossip you hear Schefter Part II, don’t opine on things you know nothing)…
    Schefter Part II writes:
    “a General Manager who seems to be more interested in sending messages than fielding the best possible roster of players”
    This isn’t Madden Schefter Part II. A good GM looks beyond the now and realizes he may want to field “the best possible roster of players” for a season or two beyond this one.
    ALL IN!
    Shouts the well trained primate.

  15. LightningLucci says: Aug 30, 2010 10:44 AM

    But wait…wait…the Chargers should just ignore all these possibilities and just let VJ go free.
    Right, Florio?
    That is what you previously said, right?

  16. Montana at Hart says: Aug 30, 2010 3:16 PM

    What many of the commenters do not appreciate is that the players in question did fulfill their contracts. McNeil and VJ completed their contracts and should have been unrestricted free agents after the 2009 season ended.
    Due to the uncapped year, their status became RFA’s since they did not meet the longer service requirements. As a result, the Charger’s had the ability to make them RFA’s. When the new agreement kicks in, it is difficult to comprehend any senario by which the Chargers will be able keep two players who, were it not for a technicality, would already be playing for other teams.
    Even more difficult to understand is AJ Smith’s logic in paying Sproles $7+ million as a franchise player, but only offering (initially) $3+ million to McNeil and VJ. What message are you really sending when you are willing to playing a role player like an every down top 5 performer, but unwilling to pay the every down player like an above average player?
    What message are you sending to your team when you are willing to put the screws to 2 ProBowlers and eventually get a 4th or 5th round pick in the 2012 draft, while at the same time ridiculously overspend on a part time player, who isn’t even a difference maker?

  17. dennis112484 says: Aug 30, 2010 9:42 PM

    it sucks that the nfl union is so weak and didnt think this out, but these players dont realize how much they are hurting themselves. logan mankins is totally screwed. the guy will get franchised if hes not a RFA next year. the franchise tag is not going to go away. and if theres no football in 2011 he will get tagged in 2012, belichick wont let him win. he should probably suit up for the Hartford Colonials and make his $400 this season or whatever they pay and then see how he likes it. with that said, if they go to an 18 game schedule there is definetly going to have to be some changes in contract lengths and guaranteed money. its just not fair to the players to have these type of contracts.

  18. Steve W. says: Aug 30, 2010 11:12 PM

    @dennis112484,
    Do you realize how much it costs put put a franchise tag on someone? It starts out as the average of the top five salaries at your position, and it’s all guaranteed. If you want to slap the franchise tag on the player again the next year, he gets a very nice boost to that salary. So, having the franchise tag slapped on you two years in a row means that you’re giving up some security for the next year in case of injury, but you’re getting paid big time. I don’t see how that equates out to Mankins being “totally screwed”.
    As for this year, and conceivably the next in the event of a lock out, he’s more than capable of holding out the entire year. I read an article discussing how he’s saved the vast majority of his money, and he has a ranch (believe it was a ranch) that pays for itself…with a little extra left over. So, his housing will be paid for, he’ll have a small (for him) source of revenue, he doesn’t waste a lot of money on things he doesn’t need, and he has a whole lot of money saved up. Mankins is probably one of the players best prepared for a hold out.

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