As the Brady antitrust action chugs toward conclusion, Ron Borges of the Boston Herald points out that, to the extent the settlement of the lawsuit depends on the approval of the men whose names appear on it, Patriots guard Logan Mankins could demand that he not be subject to the franchise tag in exchange for dropping the case.
Borges points to a dynamic we’ve mentioned several times — the fact that the plaintiffs in the Reggie White antitrust lawsuit received a lifetime exemption from the franchise tag as part of the 1993 settlement.
But that case was about securing free-agency rights, not about countering the league’s lockout leverage. Before Saturday, when word emerged for the first time that the NFLPA* wants to restrict the franchise tag to only one year per player, there had been no suggestion that today’s players were disputing any aspect of the pre-2010 free agency rules.
Last time around, the NFLPA decertified after a failed strike, and after months of litigation ultimately secured a verdict that resulted in a settlement providing real free agency. This time, the NFLPA shut down when backed against the wall via the threat of a lockout, and real negotiations toward a new labor deal began less than three months after the case was filed.
It arguably would represent the height of selfishness, then, for Mankins or any other named plaintiff to dig in his heels and request a cookie, especially since Mankins was at best an absentee litigant, participating in (as far as can tell via Google) none of the grueling and time-consuming talks that have placed the parties on the precipice of an agreement in principle.
Borges’ column seems to be sufficiently informed to suggest that someone close to the talks fed him with the idea, and with the notion that Mankins perhaps would accept in lieu of free agency the money he would have made if he hadn’t held out for a large chunk of the 2010 season.
And so the pink champagne remains on ice. Hopefully, we won’t eventually have to hit someone upside the head with the bottle.