Skip to content

Collusion claim seems destined to fail

GoodellSmithGetty Getty Images

The NFLPA’s claim that the league’s teams engaged in collusion during the 2010 uncapped year has ample merit.   If it ever gets to the merits of the case.

That may not happen.  The new lawsuit filed Wednesday by the union in an effort to secure more than $3 billion from the league faces two major hurdles:  the union knew or should have known in 2011 that there was collusion in 2010, and the union thereafter ratified any collusion by agreeing to the cap penalties imposed on the Cowboys and Redskins as a result of their failure to abide by the alleged agreement to collude.

The petition filed with U.S. Judge David Doty alleges that the claims presented are “entirely new,” but those claims flow from a set of facts that should have put the union on notice that something was amiss.  Apart from the collusion claim filed by the NFLPA in early 2011 regarding the lack of interest in restricted free agents during the uncapped year, there was ample evidence to support suspicion, or more, regarding the NFL’s plan to keep more money in the owners’ coffers and put less in the players’ pockets as a work stoppage was looming.

Prior to the launch of the uncapped year in early 2010, multiple teams cited internal budgets when addressing the reality that there would be no salary cap.  And to the extent that the actual spending by the 32 teams in 2010 suggested that perhaps the owners had an unwritten understanding as to the handling of the uncapped year, the NFLPA had full access to all contracts months before the new CBA was finalized, allowing the union’s lawyers to piece together enough circumstantial evidence to warrant full-blown litigation on the question of whether an informal salary cap had been established for the uncapped year.

Regardless of what the NFLPA knew or should have known before finalizing the current CBA and related legal documents, the paperwork seems to slam the door on any collusion claims relating to conduct in 2010.  As the CBA state at Article 3, Section 3(a) plainly states:  “The NFLPA on behalf of itself, its members, and their respective heirs, executors, administrators, representatives, agents, successors and assigns, releases and covenants not to sue, or to support financially or administratively, or voluntarily provide testimony of any kind, including by declaration or affidavit in, any suit or proceeding (including any Special Master proceeding brought pursuant to the White SSA and/or the Prior Agreement) against the NFL or any NFL Club or any NFL Affiliate with respect to any antitrust or other claim asserted in White v. NFL or Brady v. NFL, including, without limitation . . . collusion with respect to any League Year prior to 2011.”  (Emphasis added.)

Even if the 2011 CBA didn’t slam the door on a collusion claim arising from the uncapped year of 2010, the amendment to the CBA that resulted in the league and the NFLPA agreeing to the imposition of cap penalties on the Redskins and Cowboys in exchange for an increase in the salary cap operates, in essence, as a ratification of the release of collusion claims.  Indeed, the NFLPA should have realized, the moment the NFL asked the union to agree to take $46 million in cap space from the Redskins and Cowboys for treating the term “uncapped year” too literally, that the Redskins and Cowboys were being punished for refusing to collude.  By signing off on the cap penalties, the NFLPA reaffirmed its waiver of the collusion claims, since the mere request to strip cap space from the teams in question proved that collusion indeed occurred.

So why did the NFLPA go along with the cap penalties?  Because the NFL agreed to tinker with the salary cap formula in order to push the per-team limit higher in 2012 than it was in 2011.  If the salary cap had dropped during the first year of the new CBA, there’s a good chance that the contract of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith wouldn’t have been renewed at annual meetings that began only a week or two after the new cap numbers were disclosed.

Thus, at first blush it appears that the NFLPA is trying to have it both ways.

Permalink 41 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Dallas Cowboys, Rumor Mill, Top Stories, Washington Redskins
yo

Cardinals aren’t tiptoeing around Robert Nkemdiche’s past

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  Draftee Robert Nkemdiche of Mississippi arrives with mother Beverly and father Sunday at the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not every team was prepared to take a chance on Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, no matter how talented.

But the Cardinals have a certain attitude about them which not only allows them to take Nkemdiche in the first round, but to embrace his, um, colorful backstory of defenestration and exotic pets.

“I made a kind of joke about it, you get a guy who falls out of a second-story building and walks away from it, that’s my kind of guy,” defensive line coach Brentson Buckner said, via Darren Urban of the team’s official website. “Because he’s not afraid of a double-team anymore, know what I mean?

Between that and coach Bruce Arians and owner Michael Bidwill making jokes about Nkemdiche’s dream to buy a pet panther, the eccentric Ole Miss defensive tackle may have found his perfect spiritual home.

Buckner, the longtime NFL defensive tackle, said he’s talked to plenty of people about Nkemdiche and not heard negative reviews of the player, and wasn’t worried about his reputation for taking plays off. Buckner said the fact college stars rarely come off the field instead of rotating through should solve most of the problem.

“You show me any player in the country, especially D-linemen, that plays every snap full speed, I’ll give you a million dollars,” Buckner said. “It depends on what your eyes see.. . . In the NFL you’re not going to play 90 plays. With our [roster], he’ll play 30 plays. You take that energy and condense it to 30 plays, you tell me who wouldn’t want that type of player?”

The Cardinals clearly do, and their experience with a player such as Darnell Dockett will make it an easier transition for Nkemdiche, as they’ve handled big personalties with big talent before.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers go beyond due diligence on third-round cornerback

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 30:  Daryl Worley #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers breaks up a touchdown reception intended for Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Georgia Dome on August 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not every team puts a potential third-round pick in front of the owner for a pre-draft interview. But not every team flushed $13.1 million down the drain on a player who didn’t play for a year because of a domestic violence arrest.

The Panthers went above and beyond the normal vetting with third-round cornerback Daryl Worley of West Virginia, specifically because he was involved in a battery charge involving a woman at a bar near campus in 2014.

That’s obviously a sensitive issue for the Panthers after enduring the fallout from franchise-tagged defensive end Greg Hardy, who only played one game in 2014 and was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list after an incident with his then-girlfriend.

“Do you guys think that for one moment, after what happened in 2014, I’m going to do something stupid? I mean, come on,” General Manager Dave Gettleman said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “We’re going to thoroughly investigate every kid that gets involved in situations like this. And again, I want to say for the 15th time, he was not charged with domestic violence. He was not.

“Obviously we don’t take it lightly. Listen, I’m married and I’ve got a daughter. Anybody lays a glove on them, they’re going to have one fat, cranky, old man running down the street.”

Worley was charged with misdemeanor battery in 2014, after a woman accused him of of grabbing her around the neck and pushing her to the ground. But he contended he was trying to protect his girlfriend from the woman who wanted to fight. He eventually pleaded no contest and received a six-month suspended sentence, and was suspended two games by the football team.

“It was a simple situation where it was wrong place at the wrong time. There were nothing malicious about the incident,” Worley said. “All 32 teams have seen the videotape. They have the official court documents which I gave to them where there was nothing malicious about it.

“I did my due diligence as far as the court required me, and honestly, it is just behind me in the past. It is expunged from my record, and I am looking to move forward. Nothing like that is ever going to be a problem heading forward.”

But because of their background with Hardy, the Panthers weren’t going to stop at taking his word for it. In addition to viewing the surveillance tape, they brought Worley in for a pre-draft visit and had him meet with owner Jerry Richardson.

If they were even going to take anything resembling a chance on a player who would stir those disturbing echoes, it wouldn’t be on a third-round pick. And if that third-rounder would have had any other kind of charges, they probably wouldn’t have bothered the owner with it.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Washington drafts Kendall Fuller, fourth Fuller brother in the NFL

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - SEPTEMBER 19: Kendall Fuller #11 of the Virginia Tech Hokies makes the tackle on Austin Appleby #12 of the Purdue Boilermakers as he fumbles the football that would be returned for a touchdown at Ross-Ade Stadium on September 19, 2015 in West Lafayette, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Washington drafted Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller in the third round of the draft on Friday night, he became the fourth member of his family to make it to the NFL.

Fuller’s brother Kyle Fuller is a cornerback for the Bears and his brother Corey Fuller is a receiver for the Lions. The oldest brother, Vincent Fuller, is a former NFL player.

All four brothers played for Virginia Tech, and when Kendall ended his career with the Hokies, coach Frank Beamer said, “Virginia Tech is better because the Fuller brothers were Hokies. Vinny, Corey, Kyle and Kendall were all different, but they were all the same in that they were smart, competitive, very athletic and great teammates, who possessed great character.”

Today Kansas State fullback Glenn Gronkowski could be drafted, and he would follow his brothers Chris, Dan and Rob Gronkowski in the NFL. The Fullers and the Gronkowskis would be the second and third families since the AFL-NFL merger to have four brothers in the NFL. The first was the Browner family, with Jim, Joey, Keith and Ross, who played in the 1970s and 1980s.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Jones closes door on Hardy return to Cowboys

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 15: Greg Hardy #76 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys have closed the door on Greg Hardy returning to the team, owner Jerry Jones told reporters Friday night.

The news comes as no real surprise — Hardy has been a free agent for seven weeks — but Jones going the no-comment route is the most definitive statement of disinterest to date. The Cowboys have gone three rounds into the draft without adding an edge rusher, but the team doesn’t see Hardy as a solution.

Stephen Jones, Jerry’s son, has said the the team is looking for pass rushers, and that search will continue into the final day of the draft and apparently beyond. Hardy had six sacks for the Cowboys last year.

Their pass-rush issue is compounded by the situations facing Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence, who are facing four-game suspensions to start next season.

“Ultimately we want to find a dominant type of pass rusher,” Stephen Jones said earlier this month. “Obviously that’s easier said than done.”

The Cowboys-Hardy experiment simply didn’t work out, and the Cowboys figure having to get creative to address their pass rush is better than dealing with Hardy-related headaches.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns take Cody Kessler, as Connor Cook slide continues

Zz0wN2UwODAxMTFmYWMwODI3NmE0M2VjMzE2MGUxODQwMA== AP

The Connor Cook slide continues.

He wasn’t taken before Christian Hackenberg. He wasn’t taken before Jacoby Brissett. And he wasn’t taken before Cody Kessler.

The Browns took Kessler in round three. Which means Cook is still on the board, as the compensatory phase of round three begins.

The slide by Cook is stunning. He told PFT Live earlier this week he’d get nervous if not taken after round two. He may be undrafted after round three.

The good news (if there is any) is that former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins was a fourth-round pick. Things worked out pretty well for him.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Patriots grab QB Jacoby Brissett

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMEBER 14: Jacoby Brissett #12 looks over his line prior to a play against the Florida State Seminoles during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Florida State Seminoles beat the North Carolina Wolfpack 34-17. (Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Thanks to this week’s ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Patriots face the prospect of playing the first four weeks of the season without quarterback Tom Brady.

That left them in need of a quarterback to go with Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster. They addressed that need in the third round on Friday night.

The Patriots drafted Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State with the 91st overall pick. Brissett is a big quarterback at 6’4″ and 231 pounds and had some big games against good opponents over the course of his ACC career, but there’s definitely work to be done if he’s going to be an NFL starter.

New England can afford to give him that time with Brady and Garoppolo on hand now and he could follow Garoppolo into the No. 2 job if he continues to develop.

The Patriots made their first pick of the year in the second round when they took Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones with the 60th overall pick. Jones also excelled as a returner in college. They traded the 61st pick to the Saints, receiving third- and fourth-round picks in return. They used the third rounder on offensive lineman Joe Thuney, who was a college teammate of Brissett.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ohio State sets record for most players drafted through first three rounds

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Terry Richardson #13 of the Michigan Wolverines tackles Braxton Miller #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the second quarter at Michigan Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ohio State set the record for the most players drafted from a school in a single year when they had 14 players selected in the 2004 draft.

They may not match that record this year, but the NFL announced that they have more players selected through the first three rounds than any school in history. There are 10 players from Columbus off the board.

When the Bills selected defensive tackle Adolphus Washington with the 80th overall pick, it meant that 10 percent of the players selected to that point were Buckeyes. The percentage swung even further in the direction of Urban Meyer’s talent pipeline when the Texans made wide receiver Braxton Miller the 85th overall pick and ninth Ohio State player selected, and then the Seahawks took tight end Nick Vannett with the 94th pick.

Five Buckeyes went on Thursday night and two more went to the Saints in the second round. New Orleans took wide receiver Michael Thomas with the 47th pick and then traded up with the Patriots to No. 61 to pick safety Vonn Bell.

With quarterback Cardale Jones, linebacker Joshua Perry and other Buckeyes still available, the number of Ohio State products is likely to grow before Saturday’s festivities come to an end.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaylon Smith will receive insurance payment, Myles Jack won’t

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 19: Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish returns a fumble against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium on September 19, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Georgia Tech 30-22. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jaylon Smith and Myles Jack were the two best linebackers in college football last year. They both suffered serious knee injuries that caused them to drop in the draft. They both had insurance policies designed to protect them in case of an injury. But only Smith will collect on that policy.

That’s because Smith bought a policy that came with a significant payout if he dropped into the second round of the draft, while Jack bought a policy that would only pay out if he fell past the 45th pick.

Smith’s policy will pay $900,000 because he fell all the way to the 34th overall pick in the draft, Darren Rovell of ESPN reports. That doesn’t make up for the money Smith lost with his injury: If he’d been the third overall pick he would have signed a contract with a total value of about $26 million, but as the 34th overall pick he’ll get about $6.5 million on his rookie deal. Still, a $900,000 payout takes a little of the sting off his injury.

But Jack won’t get any insurance money. His policy would only pay if he dropped below the 45th overall pick, and the Jaguars drafted Jack at pick No. 36. Jack will make about $6.3 million on his rookie contract, but nothing from insurance.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns make another trade, still own nine more picks in this draft

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Browns traded pick No. 77 in the third round to the Panthers, who selected West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley.

The Browns have made four picks in this draft and made two trades. They netted a third-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder in their first round trade with the Titans, then gave up Nos. 77 and 141 to the Panthers for pick Nos. 93, 129 and 168 in this draft.

That gives the Browns five picks between Nos. 93-138, then Nos. 168, 172, 173 and 223.

No. 93 is a late third-round pick to be made later Friday night, then the Browns will have eight picks tomorrow.

Before trading with the Panthers the Browns used pick No. 76 on offensive tackle Shon Coleman, a left tackle at Auburn who will compete for the right tackle job with the Browns.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kevin Faulk announces Patriots pick wearing Tom Brady jersey

IMG_2441

The #FreeBrady movement has made its way to Chicago.

Announcing New England’s third-round pick, former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk had a Tom Brady jersey under his jacket and over his dress shirt. Faulk unbuttoned the jacket, pulled it open, stood at the front of the stage with his hands on his hips while being introduced by NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent.

“With the 78th pick of the 2016 NFL draft, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady select Joe Thuney, linebacker, North Carolina State,” Faulk declared.

The guys handling NFL Network’s coverage chuckled briefly but didn’t mention Faulk’s gesture. Which probably was smart.

On Monday, a federal appeals court reinstated Brady’s four-game #Deflategate suspension.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins add Kenyan Drake to backfield

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Kenyan Drake #17 of the Alabama Crimson Tide returns a kickoff for a 95 yards touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Clemson Tigers during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins coach Adam Gase said during the team’s minicamp this week that it was “very impressive” to see running back Jay Ajayi on the field, continuing a recent trend of confident notes about the backfield from Miami.

Early in free agency it looked like they weren’t so comfortable as they made an unsuccessful bid for C.J. Anderson as a restricted free agent and the team used a third-round pick to add another player to the mix. They selected Alabama running back Kenyan Drake at No. 73 overall on Friday night.

Drake has plenty of experience in backfield committees after sharing time with 2015 second-round pick T.J. Yeldon and 2016 second-round pick Derrick Henry at Alabama over the last two seasons. Drake, who broke his leg in 2014 and his arm in 2015, will bring speed out of the backfield and could be a pass receiving option as a complement to Ajayi.

Drake also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the NCAA title game last season and made several other big plays on special teams at Alabama, which should ensure him early playing time even if the running back rotation works out differently come September.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ravens add to pass rush, again

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 14:  Quarterback Drew Lock #3 of the Missouri Tigers avoids a sack by Bronson Kaufusi #90 of the Brigham Young Cougars as he rolls out to pass in the first quarter at Arrowhead Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) Getty Images

It seems the Ravens had a plan on Friday night, to add picks and to add pass rushers.

After making two trades and selecting Kamalei Correa in the second round, the Ravens in the third round picked defensive end Bronson Kaufusi at No. 70.

Kaufusi, who’s 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, had 11 sacks last season at BYU. He’ll play as a defensive end as the Ravens groom him, while Correa while likely play as a linebacker and then as a defensive end in nickel packages.

Kaufusi also played basketball at BYU and played both as a defensive end and as a stand-up pass rusher during his college career.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaylon Smith says there’s “absolutely” a chance he will play this year

Zz0yZTllYTZmYTk4OWE3YTMyOGQxMWUxZTI2ZDdiYmJlZg== AP

The Cowboys balanced their win-now selection of running back Ezekiel Elliott in round one with a play-later option in second-round linebacker Jaylon Smith. But don’t tell Smith that he won’t be playing in 2016.

Asked by reporters after getting picked Friday night whether there’s a chance he’ll play this year, Smith said, “Absolutely. Never doubt God.”

Smith suffered a serious knee injury during his final game with Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Concerns regarding nerve damage caused him to fall, but he ended up being drafted earlier than expected — even earlier than linebacker Myles Jack.

“I get different sensations everyday with the nerve, but it’s just a timing thing,” Smith said. “I’m only three-and-a-half months out, so time will definitely tell, but the knee is fine. That was cleared at the medical recheck that the knee won’t have any issues. But it’s just a timing thing for the nerve. It’s too early in the process to tell. . . .

“There’s no recovery time because this is a process where we’re relying on God to do his work. We have to be patient and you know the nerve can come back tomorrow. It’s just a timing thing. Whenever it wants to come back, it’ll come back.”

The fact that the Cowboys made Smith such a high pick suggests that they’re hopeful the nerve will come back sooner than later. If it does, the Cowboys could have yet another great player as they continue to search for glory.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers find a cornerback, take Samford’s James Bradberry

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 1:  A man dressed as a toilet runs on the field during the Colorado State Rams game against the Colorado Buffaloes at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 1, 2007 in Denver, Colorado. Colorado won 31-28 in overtime. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers were flush with salary cap room after taking the franchise tag off Josh Norman, but they were left with a leaky secondary.

So they drafted a guy who will have to help fix that problem.

With the 62nd overall pick, the Panthers drafted Samford cornerback James Bradberry, who will get a crack at replacing the departed Norman.

Of course, Bradberry wasn’t necessarily expecting the call, as he was busy fixing his mother’s toilet at the time the Panthers took him, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review.

While he’s a small-school player, that’s the kind of life skill that eclipses being able to cook like Eli Apple.

He’s a big, physical player with little name recognition, but that’s what Norman was before he developed into an All-Pro, but the Panthers are hoping he develops more quickly, since they have little to no depth at the position.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Some teams think Raiders 2nd rounder Jihad Ward needs knee scope

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 22: Christian Hackenberg #14 of the Penn State Nittany Lions is hit for a sack by Jihad Ward #17 of the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated Penn State 16-14. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders took Illinois defensive tackle Jihad Ward with the 44th overall pick of the draft on Friday night, adding to a defense that they’ve been building up over the last few years through free agency and the draft.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, some teams were concerned about the health of Ward’s knee and believe that he needs to have arthroscopic surgery that would keep him off the field for six weeks.

The Raiders are not one of those teams, however, and he’ll presumably be taking part in the team’s rookie minicamp before finishing out the rest of the offseason program. Ward only played two years at Illinois after starting his college career at the junior college level, but played with a lot of energy and has a build that could make him a fit at various positions across the defensive line in Oakland.

Oakland drafted Khalil Mack in the first round and added defensive tackle Justin Ellis in the fourth round of the 2014 draft before picking defensive end Mario Edwards in the second round last year. Edwards suffered a neck injury that has created some doubt about his availability in 2016.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top