The $3.96 million pendulum has swung in the direction of quarterback Drew Brees, and the NFLPA justifiably is doing a victory lap.
“We are very pleased that the arbitrator agreed with the NFLPA that the correct interpretation of the ‘third time’ Franchise Player designation in the CBA applies across clubs, and a player’s rights will not be unfairly hindered if different clubs designate him as a Franchise Player during his career,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “The arbitrator properly rejected the NFL’s strained interpretation of the CBA language, which ignored the fact that a Franchise Player designation is a narrow exception to the overall free agency structure. This ruling will help all Franchise Players in the future.”
The NFLPA is right on that last point. The Brees ruling helps all franchise players by making it harder to ever use the franchise tag on any one player three times during his career. But the league’s interpretation hardly was “strained”; the language was sufficiently murky to permit reasonable minds to disagree on its meaning. But with all the eggs in the basket of Stephen Burbank, only his opinion mattered — and the NFLPA got lucky that he agreed.
The league isn’t pointing that out, however. In fact, the league isn’t pointing out anything at all. NFL spokesman Dan Masonson declined comment on the outcome.