Of the teams that used the first 10 picks in the draft, three struck deals without offset language in the fully-guaranteed contracts. Since then, three teams have negotiated top-10 contracts with offset language.
Four teams are left — the Chiefs at No. 1 (Eric Fisher), the Cardinals at No. 7 (Jonathan Cooper), the Jets at No. 9 (Dee Milliner), and the Titans at No. 10 (Chance Warmack).
Three of them reportedly are pushing for offset language. The Cardinals, who at last check hadn’t engaged Cooper in serious talks, could be.
Regardless, the situation has caused some to wonder whether there’s coordination among the teams on the offset issue. And if there’s coordination, it means there’s collusion.
As one league source opined to PFT, “There’s no doubt they are all talking.”
Some mistakenly believe that collusion exists only if all 32 teams get the same memo and act on it the same way. But collusion doesn’t require unanimity; if two or more teams are comparing notes and coordinating positions, collusion is occurring.
It has seemed at times over the past few years that collusion possibly has occurred, apart from the bizarre decision to penalize the Cowboys and Redskins for not colluding in the uncapped year of 2010. The restricted free agency market has dried up. The unrestricted free agency market softened dramatically this year, with only a handful of teams doling out big contracts.
Again, the decision of a few teams like the Dolphins to (over)pay Mike Wallace and the Lions and Rams to gladly omit offset language for first-round rookies doesn’t mean coordination otherwise isn’t occurring. With the NFLPA willing to file formal collusion charges in the case of the Redskins and Cowboys cap penalties, even though it seemed fairly clear that any potential collusion claims arising from the uncapped year had been waived as part of the new CBA, it’s amazing that the union hasn’t filed other collusion charges.
Then again, it could be that the NFLPA realizes proof will be hard to come by. Rarely will a smoking gun exist, since team executives are smart enough to not articulate comments showing collusion in text messages or emails. If it happens, it happens verbally — and only an executive with no desire to ever work for another NFL team would ever be in position to blow the whistle on it.
Even then, it would be the disgruntled executive’s word against everyone else’s.