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Report: NFL, NFLPA work out final details of new CBA

Goodell_Smith AP

Though it’s not clear who blinked on the question of whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will retain exclusive control over the league’s personal conduct policy, it’s clear that something happened to push the matter to a resolution.

Mike Freeman of reports that, late Wednesday night, the NFL and the NFLPA worked out the last remaining details of the new CBA.

Next up, the NFLPA representatives will explain the terms to players, who’ll vote at camp on Thursday.  Once at least 50 percent plus one of the players vote in favor of the deal, everyone will be able to practice as of 4:00 p.m. ET.

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Goodell talks about his unwillingness to give up control over conduct policy

Carolina Panthers Training Camp Getty Images

In an item posted earlier today, we explained that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s refusal to allow an outside entity to review the discipline imposed by him under the personal conduct policy had become the biggest remaining issue in the nearly-completed CBA talks.

Appearing at Panthers camp, Goodell talked about the stranglehold he plans to maintain over the policy.

Asked whether he’d be willing to permit some external body review his decisions, Goodell said (per Steve Reed of, “The answer to that is no, I’m not going to be open to that.  I’m not going to hand off the brand and the reputation of the NFL to somebody who is not associated with the NFL.  I promise you that.  That is one of the number one jobs as a commissioner in my opinion.”

Goodell then explained that his viewpoint isn’t necessarily popular with the teams that employ him.

“Mr. Richardson doesn’t like this because he’s my boss, one of 32, but I have disciplinary power over them and have had the unfortunate experience of fining him too, by the way,” Goodell said.

Reed reports that Richardson then held up two fingers and said, “Yes, twice.”

The players don’t seem to be as charitable, and if someone doesn’t blink it’ll be even longer until new players can get on the field.

For now, it’s unlikely that Goodell will be the one blinking.

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Source: Goodell refuses to yield authority over personal conduct policy

Roger Goodell, Robert Kraft AP

As the deadline for getting the CBA completed in order to allow free agents to participate in practice on Thursday inches closer and closer, a source with knowledge of the dynamics of the discussions tells us that one issue has emerged as the source of a potential impasse.

Per the source, Commissioner Roger Goodell refuses to surrender full control of the league’s personal conduct policy.

Since inception of the rule that exposes players and other team and league employees to discipline for off-field conduct, regardless of whether an arrest or conviction arises, Goodell has had the ability both to impose a penalty and to preside over the appeals process.  Though former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw willingly gave Goodell that power, the players generally have decided after several years of incidents and enforcements that they want someone other than Goodell or an employee of the league office to have final say over each and every fine or suspension imposed.

But Goodell won’t yield, despite the loud objections of the recently-reconstituted NFLPA.  As the source explains it, it’s perceived that Goodell views the personal conduct policy as “his baby,” and that he doesn’t want to yield in any way the exclusive ability to mete out punishment.

Though we’re a very long way from a return of the lockout, the two sides need to find a way out of this maze in order to let the League Year begin.  At some point, owners (who currently are working on getting their teams ready on a compressed basis for the 2011 season) may need to get involved.

If they do, there’s no guarantee that owners will back Goodell.  We’re told that teams generally don’t care about the personal conduct policy, and that many teams would prefer to have the ability to decide on their own whether and to what extent a player who gets in trouble away from work should be in trouble at work.

Regardless of how it turns out, that’s the main issue preventing this thing from finally getting done.

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NFL, NFLPA continue to work toward completing CBA

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to remarks outside the NFL Players Association Headquarters in Washington Reuters

Steelers safety and NFLPA representative Ryan Clark sounded an unexpected alarm on Wednesday regarding the completion of the new CBA.  Clark said that the deal may not be done in time for players who signed new or restructured contracts to practice on Thursday.

Clark blamed the delay on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s stance on player discipline.

Still, a subsequent Associated Press report paints a slightly more optimistic picture.  Per Barry Wilner of the Associated Press, Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie said it’s “looking very optimistic” that the deal will be done on time.

Clark echoed his Debbie Downer disposition to Wilner:  “De Smith is still working, and we’re trying to get this figured out.  But it’s not an absolute that guys will be at practice tomorrow.”

While HGH testing remains a point of contention, Goodell’s authority when it comes to fines and suspensions apparenty has taken center stage.  “[W]ith Roger Goodell having total control over the fine process, that’s a deal-breaker for us in this situation,” Clark said.  “We feel like someone else should be on there; there should be some . . . type of way — actually someone who’s not on the NFL payroll.  A big issue, for us, especially, as a team, is Roger Goodell . . . being judge, jury and appeals system.”

While Clark has a point when it comes to penalties imposed under the substance-abuse policy, the steroids policy, and the personal conduct policy, the Commissioner currently doesn’t have final say when it comes to discipline for illegal hits and other on-field conduct.  In reality, Art Shell and Ted Cottrell make the final call on these matters, and the two former coaches were jointly selected by and are collectively compensated by the NFL and the NFLPA.

Unfortunately, this paragraph from Wilner will perpetuate the misconception:  “Pittsburgh has been one of the most fined teams in the league, particularly star linebacker James Harrison. The Steelers have been vocal about what they perceive as unfair treatment by the NFL.”

Another potential sticking point comes from the stated intention of the NFL to hold players responsible for off-field misconduct during the lockout, a position that we continue to regard as ludicrous.

Either way, De Smith expressed optimism last week on PFT Live that the deal will get done.  And since many of you have made it clear that you don’t want to hear about CBA matters now that football is back, we’ll stop her and get back to football.

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11 teams still have $20 million or more in cap room

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One week into the 2011 spending spree under the new $120.4 million salary cap, 11 teams still have more than $20 million available for the coming season.  A source with knowledge of the numbers has shared them with PFT.

Leading the way are the Bengals, with more than $41 million in cap room.  The Jaguars have more than $34 million.

And the bronze goes, surprisingly, to the Browns, with more than $30.4 million.

The others are:  the Buccaneers (more than $30.2 million); the 49ers (more than $30.0 million); the Chiefs (more than $28.7 million); the Broncos (more than $26.7 million); the Bills (more than $26.5 million); the Bears (more than $24 million); the Cardinals (more than $23.6 million); and the Seahawks (more than $21.2 million).

It remains widely believed by fans and some in the media that the mandatory minimum cash spend of 89 percent under the new labor deal immediately applies.  It doesn’t.

While the league as a whole must spend cash in 2011 that equates to 99 percent of the cap, there’s no minimum requirement for each team until 2013.  Thus, neither the Bengals nor any other specific team is required to spend another dime — as long as all 32 teams cuts checks this year that equal at least $3.814 billion.

UPDATE:  These numbers include the $3 million one-time exemption available to each team in 2011, which pushed the total spending limit to $123.4 million.

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Eller plaintiffs not going away quietly

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Though they didn’t get in the way of a new labor deal, the class of players led by Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller isn’t getting out of the way completely.

A major dispute lingers between Eller’s faction of retired players and the NFLPA.  Last week, a website with close ties to the NFLPA wrote an item in which other retired players, including Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood, complained that their names had been added without their knowledge or consent to a letter seeking support of retired players as the CBA process approached its conclusion.  Over the weekend, Eller and NFLPA senior director of retired player services Nolan Harrison traded barbs over Eller’s allegation — possibly stirred up by the NFL — that the NFLPA redirected away from the retired players an extra $500 million.  (The full article from Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times is worth a read.)

Now, Judy Battista of the New York Times (via SportsBusiness Daily) reports that the Eller plaintiffs, through lawyer Michael Hausfeld, have sent a letter to the National Labor Relations Board complaining about the manner in which the NFLPA negotiated on behalf of the retired players, despite the NFLPA not being a union.

“The Carl Eller class has learned that despite its representations to the contrary, the union bargained away significant and substantial retired player issues without any input from the retired players,” Hausfeld’s letter alleges.

The point that the Eller class continues to forget is that, if they secure the ability to negotiate directly with the NFL, the NFL simply can shrug its shoulders and say, “You’ll get whatever we choose to give you.”

The time for retired players to cut a deal for retirement benefit was when they were (wait for it) active players.  Retired players have no legal right to ongoing benefits beyond that which they negotiated while playing, and they now have no leverage to get more, since they can’t go on strike.

Still, it’s an argument Hausfeld was advancing in the final days of the labor dispute, and it’s now clear that Hausfeld and Eller won’t be going away voluntarily.  They need to be careful, or the fans may ultimately decide that they want Eller and the retired players to just go away.

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Sources: Disclosure of rookie scale formula by NFLPA nearly blew up settlement

Carolina Panthers Training Camp Getty Images

Football returned on Tuesday, featuring an unprecedented string of deals done in an ultra-compressed time frame.  An accidental disclosure by the NFLPA has contributed to the madness, by expediting the process of getting draft picks under contract.

But that came after the blunder nearly blew up the brand-new labor deal.

According to multiple sources, the NFL and the players agreed when crafting the rookie wage scale that the slot-by-slot formula would be kept confidential, and that agents and teams would know only the total rookie dollars allocated by team.  This approach would make the process similar to past years,  when the CBA utilized a rookie salary cap, which provided teams with limited money for all rookies but no restrictions on how it would be divvied up.

Despite a new name and far fewer dollars to go around, the same concept applies. Teams get a total amount that can be paid to all rookies, and the teams can decide which draft pick will get how much of the money.

Previously, the pick-by-pick formula used to determine each team’s rookie salary cap never had been disclosed to agents or teams.  This year, in the first season of the new rookie wage scale, it was.

As best we can tell, a low-level employee at the NFLPA inadvertently sent the formula out to agents.  The agents initially were confused by what they had received.  When some started to rely on the formula when negotiating deals, the league became aware of what had occurred.

The sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue, told PFT that the league responded by accusing the NFLPA of breaching the settlement agreement, and threatening to scrap the deal.  Cooler heads quickly prevailed, and the league decided to remedy the situation by sending the pick-by-pick formula to all teams.

Thus, every agent and every team have a comprehensive list of the year-one rookie allocation, the total rookie allocation, and the year-one minimum allotment for every single pick in the draft.  As a result, the deals are being done for nearly the exact numbers specified in the pick-by-pick formula, making a simplified process even more simple.

“The deals are taking five minutes to do,” one agent told PFT on Saturday afternoon.

For example, the formula that has been disclosed to the agents and the teams indicates that the total four-year value of Cam Newton’s contract as the first overall pick should be $22,025,500.  The actual number?  $22,025,498.

Though the information has made the process easier for everyone, it has limited the ability of some agents to negotiate a larger chunk of the per-team allocation.  Since the new wage scale isn’t technically a firm slotting process, some agents could finagle extra money for their clients, even if it may come at the expense of one of the team’s other draft picks.

Thus, the speed of the process in 2011 has been fueled both by the sense of urgency and by the ease with which the teams and the agents can get the deals done, given the inadvertent disclosure of the pick-by-pick formula to everyone involved.

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The NFLPA officially loses its asterisk

NFLPA Executive Committee Meet In Washington DC To Vote On New Labor Agreement Getty Images

The moment the new CBA was agreed to, we stopped calling the NFLPA the NFLPA* even though NFL players technically had not yet agreed to reconstitute as a union.

On Saturday afternoon, we can pass along word the NFLPA is officially back.

Albert Breer of NFL Network reports the union officially recertified.  This was done in advance of Saturday’s labor negotiations with the NFL.

The players needed a majority vote to recertify. They collected union cards all week and had enough by Saturday to finish the procedure.

Now all they have to do is settle the remaining issues on the table. Hopefully the two sides finish off a win-win agreement so we don’t have to use that asterisk ever again.

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Per-team spending minimum doesn’t apply until 2013

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One of the highlights of the labor deal, from the perspective of the players, comes from the requirement that each team muat spend at least 89 percent of the salary cap in cash on an annual basis.  “We cannot have teams like KC spend only 67% of the cap like they did in 2009,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote in an e-mail to his teammates.  “It doesn’t matter how high the cap is if they are only going to spend that much.  So with a minimum in place, it requires all teams to be at or above that minimum.  More money in players pockets.”

The players got what they wanted.  But it doesn’t apply until 2013.

Yes, for 2011 and 2012 no minimum cash spending requirement applies on a per-team basis.  We were first alerted to this reality on Thursday morning, during a weekly segment with Steve Davis and Ed Norris of 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore.  Davis said that Ravens president Dick Cass had explained the situation in a recent on-air interview, and Davis forwarded the audio to us later in the day.

The summary of the final deal that we obtained on Monday confirms that, indeed, the “minimum team cash spend” applies on a four-year basis from 2013 through 2016, and from 2017 through 2020.  No minimum per-team expenditure applies for 2011 and 2012.

Still, on a league-wide basis, the labor deal requires the NFL to spend 99 percent of the salary cap in cash in 2011 and 2012.

So what happens if too many teams spend so little that the league isn’t able to average 99 percent of the cap in actual cash spent?  NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, explained Friday night that the league would be required to pay the difference to the players.

That said, the league doesn’t believe that it will be a problem, even if teams like the Bucs and Bengals and Chiefs decide to spend as little as possible over the next two years.  Based on the money spent to date, the league thinks that the average expenditure of $119 million per team easily will be met.

Remember, it’s not cap space but cash spent.  So when a team like the Panthers gives defensive end Charles Johnson a $30 million signing bonus on a six-year deal, only $5 million counts against the cap — but $30 million counts against the league’s total spending requirement of $3.8 billion.

The more relevant point, for the next two years, is that teams like the Bucs, Bengals, and Chiefs can choose to stay as far below the salary cap as they want.

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League, union scheduled to start finalizing CBA tomorrow

NFLPA Executive Committee Meet In Washington DC To Vote On New Labor Agreement Getty Images

Football is back, but the labor issues of the past five months (or, as the case may be, three years) still aren’t completely resolved.

Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the league and the recertified union will begin talking about specific noneconomic work issues on Saturday.  Drug testing, benefits, and discipline reportedly are on the agenda.

Despite the open issues, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told PFT Live on Thursday that he anticipates no problems.  Still, a fight could be looming regarding the question of whether the personal conduct policy will apply retroactively, during the lockout.

As NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told PFT Live earlier in the week, “Something tells me our members are going to tell us to deal with that pretty aggressively.  I’ll just leave it at that.”

It’s likely a matter of time before the two sides get the remaining issues ironed out.  But there’s not unlimited time to make it happen.  The 2011 League Year is due to start by Thursday, August 4.  And the League Year can’t begin until the CBA is finished.

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Murphy’s comments on retired players angered NFLPA

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Earlier this year, before the NFL and the players began the process of finding a middle ground (after trading middle fingers) and working their way toward a new labor deal, a couple of owners were the subject of reports regarding potentially polarizing conduct during negotiations.  Panthers owner Jerry Richardson reportedly disrespected Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning during a pre-Super Bowl session.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reportedly used some tough talk and then made some sort of hand gesture during a meeting in Washington, at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

While talking with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith during Thursday’s PFT Live, I stumbled across another situation that arose earlier this year.  Though Smith was guarded in his words, it was clear based on a couple of questions regarding the role of former player and current Packers president Mark Murphy that the players have a high degree of animosity toward Murphy.  So, after the show, I started snooping around.  (I bought one of those really big magnifying glasses at the dollar store.)

Per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, the players handling the negotiations prior to the lockout became significantly angered by comments made by Murphy on the Freakonomics podcast regarding retired players.

Said Murphy:  “You know, right now our current players if they’re vested, and you vest if you play three or more seasons, you get health insurance coverage for five years, which is great.  But I look at it, too, and the transition for players from playing in the NFL to finding another career and establishing themselves is very difficult, and I really wonder, sometimes, if we do too much for the players.  They’ve got severance pay and a 401(k) plan.  I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes it’s not all bad, and going back and talking to some of the players who played for [Vince] Lombardi in the ’60s — you know, they worked in the off-seasons, and they made a very smooth transition into their second careers because they had to.  And so I’m a little worried that if we do too much for players in terms of compensation after their career’s end, and health insurance — it’s not all bad to have an incentive to get a job. And, so those are just some of the things we’re thinking through and talking through.”

The comments, we’re told, made former NFL linebacker Cornelius Bennett, a non-voting member of the NFLPA Executive Committee, livid.  According to the sources, some of the players thereafter didn’t even want to be in the same room with Murphy.  Said one source, “It was very real.  It could have gotten ugly.”

When players-and-owners-only talks began in May, the sources say that the players asked Murphy to be excluded.  And he was indeed absent from the process, until the very end when nine of the 10 members of the league’s labor committee participated in the final stage of face-to-face talks.

It all subsided until recently, when Murphy was interviewed by Tony Walter of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.  Though the full article seems to be fairly tame, the players interpreted it as an effort by Murphy to claim partial credit for getting the deal done, when in reality the belief from the NFLPA side of the table is that Murphy was counterproductive. And that stirred up emotions that had flared before the lockout.

The Packers, through spokesman Aaron Popkey, declined to provide a comment.

It’s possible that the players’ complaints are simply part of the inherently contentious bargaining process.  Murphy was involved in two 1980s strikes as a player, and he had the unique perspective of former player and current owner.  Which made Murphy’s words potentially more persuasive to the players involved in the talks.

And so perhaps for the same reason the owners hated NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, the players didn’t like Murphy.  Perhaps both were despised because their opponents because they were effective.

Regardless, while it appears that the players have no hard feelings in the wake of the 10-year labor deal toward Jerry Jones and Jerry Richardson, the same can’t be said for their feelings about Mark Murphy.

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Rookie wage scale could be the first step toward guaranteed veteran contracts

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As we pointed out at some point before all transactional hell broke loose, the rookie wage scale gives rookie draft picks less reason than ever to hold out.  There’s little reason to hold out because there’s not much to negotiate.

That said, there’s one fairly significant factor that remains negotiable — the extent to which the rookie contract is guaranteed.

It hasn’t been a hard sell for plenty of the teams who have signed first-round picks.  Several of the contracts are fully and completely guaranteed.

And that makes us wonder whether agents, once in the habit of negotiating fully guaranteed contracts, will start asking for fully guaranteed veteran contracts.  The teams, once in the habit of granting fully guaranteed contracts, may start agreeing to fully guaranteed veteran contracts, in some cases.

Given Bengals owner Mike Brown’s stance on quarterback Carson Palmer, players may start clamoring for a two-way “commitment.”  Now that first-round picks are getting that two-way commitment, other players may want it, too.

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Witten praises the role of his boss in getting labor deal done

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft, perhaps the only owner the players truly trust, has received much deserved praise for his role in the negotiation of a new labor deal.  Another owner regarded by many as a man more likely to play hardball also is drawing credit for getting the deal done.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, despite reportedly trying to intimidate the players early in the process, played an important part in working things out.

“Without him, that deal wouldn’t have gotten done,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten told Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.  “Everyone should know that.

“Sometimes you forget how influential one person can be.  He didn’t make it emotional. I t was always about building a partnership and working toward a resolution.  It was never something personal or trying to gain any advantage for himself.  It was all about representing everyone in the entire room.  That’s not always easy to do — and he did that on a daily basis.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell agrees.  “Jerry was outstanding,” Goodell told Gosselin.  “I’m not sure this deal could have gotten done without him.  His passion is unmatched.  His drive is incredible. . . .  His commitment in this negotiation was clearly evident.”

Jones’ likely reward for his effort will be a 10-percent tax on his local revenues, given the terms of the new supplemental revenue sharing package that was developed as part of the labor deal.  The Cowboys presumably are at or near the top of the list of revenue-generating teams.

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NFLPA reminds agents of new salary cap exceptions

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With NFL transactions currently moving faster than the speed of blog, there’s a chance that agents and/or teams will make mistakes.  The NFLPA, which soon will reacquire jurisdiction over the regulation of agents, has reminded them of a couple of things that should help when facing the “we don’t have the cap room” whining from personnel execs.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the once-and-future-union has sent a memo pointing out some of the new realities of the restored salary cap.

First, although each team has a cap limit of $120.4 million, each team may exercise a $3 million exemption, pushing the true cap to $123.4 million.

Second, each team can ignore up to $1 million in salary for three separate veterans with five or more years of service.

Third, teams can spend money now that is spread over future salary caps.  For example, the $30 million signing bonus paid to Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson on a six-year deal results in $5 million being allocated to each of the next six seasons.

Also, keep in mind that the Transition Rules don’t require teams to be under the salary cap until the next league year starts, on or about August 4.  Thus, teams can go over the cap now and get under it later.

Of course, later is coming up pretty soon.

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Pats vote unanimously to recertify union

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Last year, we posted a stream of stories regarding the decisions of the players from the various teams to authorize in advance the decertification of the NFLPA.

Fasten your seat belts for a stream of stories on the decisions of the players from the various teams to recertify.

We’ll wake you when it’s over.

Actually, we probably won’t post all of them.  But we’ll post the first one.

Ron Borges of the Boston Herald reports that the Patriots unanimously have voted to recertify the union.

The vote came after a 90-minute meeting between NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and the players, during which Smith explained the importance of being unionized.

The most important point?  Without a union, the NFL is exposed to antitrust litigation attacking the draft and the rookie wage scale.  Which would take away money from the veteran players.

Which helps explain why the vote was unanimous.

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Player prepare to push back against personal conduct policy

George+Atallah+NFL+Players+Association+Press+9RP7DbM_vZSl Getty Images

The new CBA won’t be done until the players vote to reconstitute the union.  After that happens, the NFL and the NFLPA must collectively bargain matters like drug testing, steroids testing, and the personal conduct policy.

As to the personal conduct policy, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah addressed on Tuesday’s PFT Live the question of whether the resurrected union will allow the league to impose discipline for off-field incidents occurring during the work stoppage.

“Something tells me our members are going to tell us to deal with that pretty aggressively,” Atallah said.  “I’ll just leave it at that.”

And they should.  It’s wrong, in our view, to hold players responsible for things done away from work at a time when the boss won’t let the players work.

Even if the league is pushing the issue merely for leverage as to other issues, it’s an unreasonable position and the players should refuse to make any concessions in order to get the league to abandon this stance.

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NFLPA releases video thanking fans

The NFLPA (we’ve officially dropped the asterisk in anticipation of the official return of union status) has issued a video featuring a series of “thank you” messages from a variety of NFL players.

Played over the kind of background music that in the right circumstances can make a grown man cry, the realization that this multi-year mess finally is over coupled with the words from the players almost got me a little choked up.  (Almost.  And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Players speaking on the video include Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, Colts linebacker Gary Brackett, Falcons linebacker Coy Wire, Rams offensive lineman Adam Goldberg, Buccaneers receiver Maurice Stovall, Saints offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb, Bears kicker Robbie Gould (whose sore-thumb build was accentuated by his high school physics teacher attire), free-agent (as of five minutes ago) linebacker Takeo Spikes, Bills safety George Wilson, Lions safety Erik Coleman, free-agent (as of five minutes ago) Tyson Clabo, Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis, and Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth.

Said Spikes:  “In the end, we all got what we wanted.  And that’s football.”


Whitworth wrapped it up with something that nearly caused me to run through the nearest wall.  (Or, as the case may be, to bounce off the nearest wall.  Because I truly am the juggernaut, bitch.)

“We got this thing done,” Whitworth said, “now let’s play some ball.”

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Minimum salaries shoot up under new deal

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The bad news for undrafted players is that they won’t be able to tell who’s interested in them as something more than camp fodder based on the signing bonus that a team offers.

The good news for undrafted players is that, if they make a team, they’ll make a lot more money.

The minimum salaries for NFL players have increased by $55,000 across the board.  For 2011, that means rookies will get $375,000.  Players with one year of service get $450,000.  Two years of service will push the minimum to $525,000.

Players with three years of service will make a minimum of $600,000.  For players with four to six years of service, the minimum salary is $685,000.  Seven to nine, $810,000.

For players with 10 years or more of service, the minimum salary is $910,000.

The amounts increase $15,000 per year in each of the next four seasons.

It’s believed that the program previously employed by the NFL to allow teams to sign veterans to one-year deals at a reduced camp number will apply in the new CBA.  If not, marginal veteran players could become far less attractive, given the $535,000 gap between the minimum pay for rookies and 10-year pros.

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Undrafted players get screwed in the new deal

Kurt Warner of St. Louis Rams Getty Images

Undrafted players sign contracts for the minimum annual salaries.  The only thing that distinguishes one team’s offer from another team’s offer is the signing bonus.

The decision to cap each team’s signing bonuses for undrafted free agents to $75,000 hurts these players who have been waiting patiently for work in a way far more significant than the dollars and cents of the signing bonus.  As a league source explained it to me earlier today (and as I ranted a bit on PFT Live), it will now be harder for agents to know which teams are serious about the chances of an undrafted player to make the team.

Every team says it.  But then when the team offers a signing bonus of only $2,500, the agent knows that it’s just talk.  When $20,000 is offered, the agent knows that the team has real interest.

Per the source, one team was ready to offer $20,000 to six different undrafted players.  Another team budgeted $150,000 for undrafted rookie signing bonuses.

None of that will happen now, and it will be even harder for undrafted players to know which teams truly have high regard for them, especially in a year that will include 90 players going to training camp.  As a result, it’ll be even harder for the next Kurt Warner to separate from the scout team and become a Super Bowl hero.

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Dolphins advise employees that pay will be refunded

Michael Dee AP

The Dolphins have joined their AFC East rivals in New York by making it known that all salaries will be restored to where they were on May 15, the date on which the team began to cut pay.

In a letter to all staff, a copy of which PFT has obtained, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee also advised the employees that they will receive in their next paychecks any money that has been withheld.

“On behalf of Steve Ross and our senior leadership team, THANK YOU for your attitude, your support and your exemplary contributions during a time where individuals who were less committed may have wavered,” Dee wrote.

So that’s two down, and we’re not sure how many more to go.  We’ll dust off the list of the teams that took money from non-player employees during the lockout, and we’ll start banging the drum for the rest of them to do the right thing.

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