It’s widely believed, as Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com recently explained, that Patriots owner Robert Kraft has emerged as a much-needed Wellington Mara/Dan Rooney figure in the ongoing labor talks. But that doesn’t mean Kraft is fully on board with the direction in which the process is heading.
Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that both Kraft and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (who, from the standpoint of building bridges with players, has become the anti-Kraft) have concerns regarding the manner in which another economic downturn along with ever-rising unemployment could impact the next labor deal.
In our view, Kraft’s concerns possibly will result in what we’ll call a “true-down” — a device for reeling back the year-by-year salary cap in the event that performance comes in lower than projected. It’s a fair goose-gander point; if the players want to share in the upside (as they should), then they should be required to share in the risk of the pie shrinking. The current talks focus essentially on a guaranteed minimum (via a “pegged cap”) plus a share of the upside; perhaps to get a deal done, Kraft and the rest of the owners will seek, and receive, a commitment that a fully sliding scale will be used, both for better and for worse.
Breer also explains that the owners’ concerns are tied to specific issues, with some owners concerned about some points, and some owners concerned about others. The goal as of Tuesday will be to get at least 24, and preferably all 32, behind a balanced deal that secures a win-win outcome for both parties. If every owner loves every aspect of the deal, then it would be an agreement that the players eventually would come to hate.