Union unlikely to agree to a longer path to free agency than four years

Part of the discussion between NFL general counsel Jeff Pash and the two Mikes on ESPN Radio centered on the rookie wage scale.  Pash pointed out that the NFLPA’s proposal on a rookie wage scale included a three-year path to unrestricted free agent, with no franchise tag or other restriction on getting to the open market.

There’s no way the NFL would agree to that.

But the conversation reminded us that several league sources believe there’s no way the NFLPA will agree to increase the current path to unrestricted free agency from four years.  The fact that, in the uncapped year, the limit bumped from four years to six has created an assumption that the next system will feature a five-year or six-year service requirement before a player can walk.

The union realizes that this would represent a major concession, and it’s highly unlikely that the league would offer anything of sufficient size to prompt that concession.

So once a new deal is done, look for the four-year requirement to apply once again.

13 responses to “Union unlikely to agree to a longer path to free agency than four years

  1. If the union is going to concede to things……why even have one?
    I am not pro-union but if you have one how about actually, oh I don’t know, having one that does something.

  2. The three-year path would mean the death of teams like the Bills, Jaguars, Buccaneers, Bengals and Rams.

  3. I usually side with the owners in sports labor disputes, but if you’re going to argue against giving money to players who haven’t earned it (rookies) you clearly need to be ready to more give it to the players that have earned it (young stars).

  4. make it 3 years with a sensible rookie wage cap. if a player is good, teams renegotiate all the time anyways. there really arent that many rookies worth more than a few million$, so make the top pick say $5 for 3 years, then FA. if the team treats the player well, he’ll want to resign and with all the cash saved from the rookie contract, you can actually pay the players who have earned it.

  5. Although the union may not want to see the years to qualify for free-agency extended from 4 years… they may not have a choice. They let the cat out of bag when they allowed the uncapped year to come into play and the number of years to qualify for free-agency to reach 6 years. Technically it wouldn’t be a concession as the requirement is now 6 years. A lot of factors are in play and there a lot of moving parts, so it is hard to say how many years will ultimately be agreed to at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new term set a 5 years. I can safely say that it won’t be 6 and it won’t be 3, but neither 4 or 5 would surprise me.

  6. nicewolf64,
    the problem with 3 years, is that it takes some rookies time to develop especially the prized QBs. A lot of QBs spend the first couple years holding the clipboard and/or being an understudy. I doubt any team would be interested in paying $15 million and investing time and energy developing a young talent only to see him walk in free-agency before they reap any benefit from it while another team gets to enjoy the spoils of their labor.

  7. Hail2ThaRedskins,
    But teams wouldn’t be paying 15 million to a rookie under the new wage scale, right? I mean we hear now all the time how a rookie has out performed their contract and are correct in wanting a new deal before their old contract is up, how can the owners say they want a rookie wage scale (pay rookies alot less than in the past) but also want to lock them up for the same amount time as when they paid them alot more? The owners want to have their cake and eat it too on this issue.

  8. Hails2- the team can always renegotiate- and nothing would stop a team from signing a rookie to more years than 3— NFL teams would have a good idea if the guy was doing enough good things to offer extensions

  9. 4 years seem about right to me. Going with the golden 3rd year (when WR/QB’s and others “break out”), the team gets the breakout year and 4th year in return for the $$ paid and the training put in the first two years. By that time they know if they want/should offer a contract extension or big dollars. So 4 years seems the perfect # to me.
    Longer isn’t fair to the players, shorter isn’t fair to the teams.

  10. the nflpa shouldnt give in at all the owners are making a boat load of cash so why concede anything,if the owners were going broke thats another thing but sense there making money why concede anything,the owners already shot down lower rookie salaries and paying veterans more and adding more money to the players pension .TELL THE PLAYERS TO HOLD ONTO THER WALLETS BECAUSE 2011 IS GOING TO BE A LOST YEAR

  11. The new language in the NFL proposal contains the key phrase “till death do us part”.

  12. Screw the union…the owners should declare an impass and any players that report to camp get paid and the ones that don’t…well they get nothing.

  13. The large majority of the Union members are those who spend every nickel of their salary each year and therefore don’t have the money or the fortitude to strike. That said, the NFLPA will have no choice but to accept whatever is on the table from the league.

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