As the start of free agency looms, the NFL Players Association potentially has created a lot more work for itself.
Per multiple sources, the NFLPA sent to agents on February 1 a memo outlining new requirements regarding the negotiation of contracts. The union now requires advance consultation before finalizing a new deal.
“[E]ffective immediately,” the memo states, “Contract Advisors are REQUIRED to contact the NFLPA Salary Cap & Agent Administration Department at the ‘beginning of substantive discussions’ with an NFL Club over any veteran RENEGOTIATION in which either the initial Club offer or the expected final NFL Player Contract has an Average Per Year (APY) of $2,000,000 or more.”
Other language in the memo suggest that it applies to all new contracts (e.g., “Contract Advisors must communicate with the NFLPA during the process of negotiating any Player Contracts with NFL Clubs, and more particularly when renegotiating veteran NFL Player Contracts”). As one source explained it, however, it applies only to renegotiations.
Some agents have suggested that the new term will have a chilling effect on teams inclined to renegotiate contracts, given the possibility that sensitive information regarding the discussions will be shared with the union — and then potentially leaked to agents representing other players on the same team. Agents also are concerned that the union will attempt to prevent a player from signing a contract that the player wants to sign, regardless of whether the union believes the player should seek more.
The primary intent of the provision, per a source with knowledge of the union’s thinking, is to ensure that agents won’t agree to onerous language that void trigger a voiding of guaranteed money based on relatively minor offenses like speaking ill of the team. (The source explained that, at one point last year, the Cowboys attempted to insert language voiding Dez Bryant’s deal based on that factor.)
If that’s the case, then the regulation should say so. Or instead of requiring consultation the union should create approved language for the voiding of guarantees and insist that all agents fight for that terminology in all deals.
Agents will have a chance to air any complaints they have about the new regulation during Thursday’s annual meeting in Indianapolis.