“Poison pill” for offer sheets removed from CBA

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With teams like the Steelers and the Texans facing the departure via restricted free agency of players like Mike Wallace and Arian Foster, respectively, in exchange for merely a first-round draft pick, the question becomes whether teams like the Steelers and the Texans would match an offer sheet signed with a new team by players like by Wallace or Foster, respectively, with a new team.

Embedded in that question is the question of whether the “poison pill” feature devised six years ago by the Vikings, guard Steve Hutchinson, and his agents still exists.

Per a source with intimate knowledge of the new CBA, it doesn’t.  The ability of one team to sign a player to an offer sheet and include a term that would, for example, make the entire amount of the contract fully guaranteed if the player plays more than four games in the stadium where his current team plays, has disappeared.

In Hutchinson’s case, the entire amount of his March 2006 offer from the Vikings would have become fully guaranteed if at any point during the life of the deal he hadn’t been the highest-paid offensive lineman on the team.  Since former Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones was making more per year than the Vikings had offered Hutchinson, Hutchinson’s full contract would have become guaranteed the moment the Seahawks matched the offer that Minnesota had made.

The so-called “poison pill” was never used again following a tit-for-tat that had the Seahawks take former Vikings receiver Nate Burleson via a similar device (and after, we were told at the time, Vikings and Seahawks executives were dressed down at the next set of league meetings).  So, with most teams unwilling to use it, it made sense for the players to give it up in exchange for other concessions at the bargaining table.

28 responses to ““Poison pill” for offer sheets removed from CBA

  1. I think the off season would be sooooo much more fun if this was a regular part of the ebb and flow of free agency!

  2. The poison pill offered to Burleson was something to the effect of, “if you play more than 6 games in Minnesota in the span of one year you’re contract is guaranteed.” Slightly different than the Hutchinson deal.

  3. That first sentence is the longest sentence I’ve seen in awhile. I have a feeling the whole “only a first round pick” thing is a bit of an understatement. We don’t see many RFA’s leave for a reason

  4. “…and after, we were told at the time, Vikings and Seahawks executives were dressed down at the next set of league meetings…”

    Is it just me or does that sound dangerously close to a Section 1 Sherman Act violation? It’s questionable whether the non-statutory labor exemption or single entity defense would apply in that situation.

  5. Ha! the Seahawks “stole” Burleson and Rice but have yet to get back at us. That 3rd rounder we got from Burleson was worth more than him. Rice is injury prone so you can’t really count on him for much anyway.

  6. So it hadn’t been used in 6 years BEFORE it was barred in the new CBA?

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  7. The Hutchinson contract was a steaming pile of crap the day it was created, and remains so currently. If this BS would have been tried against a league/media favorite team (a.k.a. any Eastern division teams), the NFL would have blocked the deal.

  8. The Seahawks began a rather rapid decline after the loss of Hutchinson. The most important aspect of the Hutchinson deal as it affected the Seahawks was the destruction of any trust between Holmgren and the supremely inept Tim Ruskell. As a fan, I was completely floored by the loss of Hutchinson and I can only imagine Holmgren’s reaction when he first learned that Hutch had gone to Minnesota. Hutchinson and Walter Jones formed the best left side in the league for a few years and Ruskell proved his complete idiocy by letting the line go to hell.

  9. aequitas83 says:
    Feb 14, 2012 2:58 PM
    “…and after, we were told at the time, Vikings and Seahawks executives were dressed down at the next set of league meetings…”

    Is it just me or does that sound dangerously close to a Section 1 Sherman Act violation? It’s questionable whether the non-statutory labor exemption or single entity defense would apply in that situation.
    ———————————————–
    I think that’s what we were all thinking. That damn Section 1 Sherman Act. How could you read this article and not think of Section 1 of the Sherman Act?

  10. Does the League/Commissioner’s office not have to approve these offer sheets? Seems like theyshould be able to declare the sheet void in the event someone is trying to play games to circumvent or misuse the CBA. The whole “in the best interest of the game” bit would cover that.

    Having this nonsense take place every off season would create anarchy and chaos. It would be akin US Congress. Nothing would get done.

  11. @ vikescry1

    More like walking over to your neighbors yard and kicking his dog while he watches. Then he stands there and does nothing.

    That my friend was the poison pill in a nut shell.

  12. Not so fast… Sure, the poision pill doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t preclude a team with a ton of cap space from front-loading a contract. For example, a team like the Pats or the Bengals who have a ton of cap space and 2 #1’s could easily offer Foster or Wallace a 5yr contract for, say, $20MM (just using that $$ figure as an example) in Year 1 and then the remaining years at ~$5MM/per. No way the Texans or Steelers could match that since they’re already tight against the cap.

  13. matthewcarlson1 says:
    Feb 14, 2012 3:07 PM
    Ha! the Seahawks “stole” Burleson and Rice but have yet to get back at us. That 3rd rounder we got from Burleson was worth more than him. Rice is injury prone so you can’t really count on him for much anyway.
    _____________________________

    You didn’t get a third rounder for Burleson. You got nothing and liked it.

    I’m sure Hutchinson enjoyed not returning to the Super Bowl during his years in Mini-haha. Maybe now that the “Dude, where’s our stadium?” Vikings are going to cut him to make cap space, he’ll find his way back to a decent team again.

  14. lordpondscum says:Feb 14, 2012 3:25 PM

    The Hutchinson contract was a steaming pile of crap the day it was created, and remains so currently. If this BS would have been tried against a league/media favorite team (a.k.a. any Eastern division teams), the NFL would have blocked the deal.
    ____________________________

    How quickly we forget Bill Parcells jumping ship from New England to the NY Jets. 1 year later Curtis Martin was a restricted free agent, and he signed an offer sheet that New England couldnt match, because it was something along the lines of if he plays 3 or more games in Foxboro MA in any season of the deal, that the entire deal became fully guarenteed. I am paraphrasing obviously, but the idea that poison pills started with the Vikes/SeaHawks is absurd

  15. It’s about time this happened. I always HATED this ‘poison pill’ b.s. If a FA signs a 6 year 36 million dollar deal, then the current team should be able to match that and only that figure. No poison pills. It goes against the spirit of the rule of matching an offer because the current team isn’t matching the same offer now are they? The ‘poison pill’ changes the offer, so you’re not really “matching” the offer to begin with. This crap should have NEVER been allowed.

  16. Sad (or fitting) that Hutch will probably be more remembered for the Poison Pill contract sleaziness than great play at guard.

    He can probably thank his agent Tom “Poison Pill” Condon for that. I’m guessing it wasn’t Hutch’s idea — though he did end up going along with it.

  17. Oh, so noooooooow they decide to do something about it.

    Figures.

    Btw, good one, Trollhammer. Lmao! Yes, they may have Hutchinson but at least we have a permanent field and stadium for our players to actually play in. Lol!

    What’s that saying….you know, the one that goes something like…You gotta build your house before you can invite your friends over….

    Hey Minnesota, it’s about time for you to start asking your ownselves: What’s In YOUR Wallet?

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

  18. The first time I heard of the “poison pill” was when Will Wofford left the Bills for the Colts, so that has been around a lot longer than 6 yrs. Should have been removed along time ago.

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