It’s time for draft picks to take a stand and demand contracts

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With the draft delayed by two weeks, teams will be more anxious than ever to get their players involved in offseason workouts.

Which means that the players have leverage.  Which means that they should use it.

It’s time for draft picks to collectively tell teams that, if teams want them to show up for work, teams should sign them to contracts.  A one-page injury protection letter, promising to sign them to the contract they would have received if they tear an ACL or pop an Achilles’ tendon, doesn’t cut it.  Guys can and will get injured.  This year, an ACL was torn during a pre-draft workout.  Last week, a veteran receiver broke an arm during supposedly non-contact, low-impact minicamp practices.

The 2011 labor deal supposedly makes it much easier than ever to negotiate rookie contracts.  So negotiate them now.  Sign them now.  Pay them now.

Ultimately, the agents need to be the ones to rise up together and tell the teams that there won’t be effort for nothing.  That the players who were drafted won’t be working until they are employees with signed contracts, like the veterans and the undrafted free agents who are being signed in the aftermath of the draft.

If enough of the influential agents are willing to keep their players away from offseason workouts absent a signed contract, more agents will follow suit.

Ultimately, the NFLPA should get involved, urging players and agents across the board to refuse to show up unless and until draft picks have the same rights and protections as every other employee of every NFL team.  From Jadeveon Clowney to Mr. Irrelevant and in between, if the teams want them to work, it’s time to open the pocketbook and pay.

52 responses to “It’s time for draft picks to take a stand and demand contracts

  1. Pay them now?! What if they don’t make the 53-man roster? Highly unlikely but stranger things have happened. Easy to say when it’s not your money being spent.

  2. Makes sense, never understood why teams waited until training camp to sign their top draft picks. Whats more important, scheduling the half time show in week 11, or signing your first round draft pick?

  3. It’s not only the teams holding up draft picks from signing contracts. Agents are also holding up the process demanding no off sets in players contracts.

  4. OK. The teams should offer a contract without negotiation with the agents and stick to it. You want them all now. The GM can’t possibly negotiate with 5 to 25 agents all at once. Make them an offer.Give them a week. If they don’t take it, then let them wait until the next draft to play.

    Sounds illegal.

  5. So the suggestion is that the negotiations on terms of the contract not be negotiated? Does that mean that the player should just sign what the team proposes or the team should just give the player everything he asks for? As any attorney knows, it is necessary to spend some time analyzing and defining a contract so it is clear and uderstandable, and wholly legal. Sure, pay is pretty much slotted, the devil is in the details

  6. Well said! This league, as entertaining as it is, is a real grindhouse and these kids need insurance. I don’t care if they will make more money than I will ever see in my life: they need security.

    We all enjoy this beautiful sport, but the players have to pay a insanely high price to fulfill their dream and -in the end- entertain us. I’m with them.

  7. Another union style tactic.

    And as with everything that unions get involved with, the quality of the product goes down, as does everything around it.

    Don’t believe me? Ask the auto industry, or the state of our public school system.

    Ask the residents of Detroit how those unions worked out for them…

  8. Or they could just continue on with not having this down to a science like the way they handle all league matters. These groups of people that represent the league and the agents are never going to put their heads together and make sense of this stuff, you’re dreaming about a logical fantasy land!

  9. who was the kid that was working out for the Saints and tore his ACL or Achilles? I really hope that he was drafted or the Saints made good on it and signed him as UDFA.

  10. Guys get injured at combines and pro days too – that doesn’t entitle them to a contract with anyone either. The CBA was written so that rookies don’t get the same payday as a 7-year All-Pro – the rooks have to earn it. Being drafted is not earning it.

  11. A one-page injury protection letter, promising to sign them to the contract they would have received if they tear an ACL or pop an Achilles’ tendon, doesn’t cut it…

    Why not? Sounds fair to me.

  12. Don’t play in the NFL, nobody is forcing you to do so. Work on Wall Street, or in a factory. Don’t like it pick another profession.

  13. So if the owners “rise up together”, it’s collusion. But the agents should “rise up together”. One mans collusion is another mans solidarity. Just sayin’.

  14. I love all the clueless responses to this article. Reading comprehension people. This article simply states that drafted players should simply refuse participation in team activities until a contract is signed. I work in IT and we employ contractors. Per our HR rules and those of the contractor themselves no contract worker is allowed to work without a signed contract. I’m amazed that contract workers in the NFL with millions on the line would ever work even a day without a signed contract.

  15. Since its the agent’s who usually have the players hold out I don’t think you’ll see a lot of success with this concept.

    “Ask the residents of Detroit how those unions worked out for them…”

    Why don’t you ask the millions of Americans who lost their good paying jobs to the slave labor factories so they 1% could get ever so richer and now have to work crappy minimum wage to 10/hr jobs how not having unions has worked out ?

  16. Reading comprehension is right. As it is now, they get paid their slotted amount if they get hurt. They have it in writing. This allows them to start their NFL training period right away, as time is short. Although it’s slotted, contracts have things to negotiate, such as workout/roster signing bonuses, etc. Give me one example of a rookie that got hurt and didn’t get paid. This is just stirring a pot that doesn’t need stirring.

  17. Clowney should retire now, while his ACL is healthy, lets minimize the chances of him tearing it.

  18. Yes by all means let’s keep the players away from getting ready for the season. That will really improve the product on the field.

    With all of the new rules that limit players from getting physically ready to be at their optimum we really don’t need another obstacle to the process.

    We don’t need players rounding into form in week 3.

  19. While it makes sense that the contracts should get done quickly, I’m not sure the players have all of the leverage. Yes, teams want them in camp, but unless you’re an early round pick, you don’t have a guaranteed job by any means, so the pressure to get to camp and start learning falls on the player. And, for the early round picks who don’t get into camp right away, the outcome can be a lower spot on the depth chart, especially in a draft like this one, where it seemed as those there were so many players who could have been drafted anywhere from the 2nd to the 5th round.

  20. How long is this ping-pong match going to go on? A few years ago top 10 players got crazy guaranteed money with quite a few cashing out of the league. Since then there was a new agreement that both players and management agreed on. Deal with it. Focus on the NCAA, where player’s should have the right to get paid (if only for endorsements.) You’ll end up with more complete college careers and young men that will have some money in their pockets. And most importantly ‘A Choice’ about what they want to do with their lives.

  21. Can you cite one time a team didn’t live up to their commitment of the injury protection letter? If not then then by definition”it does cut it”.

  22. “A one-page injury protection letter, promising to sign them to the contract they would have received if they tear an ACL or pop an Achilles’ tendon, doesn’t cut it.”

    Why not?

    It is a CONTRACT!

    The players have a contract – they are protected.

    Move on to something important…

  23. With the CBA in place with rookie wage scale, the contract should already be written with a % increase over the same slot the previous year.

    The problem lay where agents start trying to squeeze more out of teams, in a way to get around the CBA as much as possible.

    Set a flat rate, with the best injury protection insurance for the player and team, then as soon as the player arrives at their new team, the contract is signed and both player and team can move onto the product on the field.

  24. You left out that agents will need to spend weeks haggling over the offset should their guy get cut in year 2. Blame goes both ways here, and don’t forget the NFLPA negotiated a disgraceful deal a few years ago.

  25. Some people here–southerners, no doubt– don’t like unions. They’ve missed the fact that workers have been savaged by greedy owners in all industries for 30 years–flat or falling wages, shrinking benefits, the Wal-Mart effect. NFL rookies get stiffed with, what, four or five year contracts, which means that the good young players, who may have been drafted in middle rounds and thus gotten modest first contracts, have to wait too long to get good money. NFL and hockey players have the worst deals in pro sports.

  26. I agree. I’ll say this–DeMaurice Smith & the NFLPA should never have agreed to the terms of the last CBA. How is it possible that Goodell & the owners have all the power when it’s the players who made the game what it was & what it is??? I hate that the players don’t have a say on all rule changes or for whether they should play games four days later on Thursday night or for games played in England.

    And lastly the concessions that were made from the league & for ownership for LESS practice time are actually bad for the players & bad for the game.

  27. Sure. It’s already a union ran league. Make sure the per wee coaches/kids get paid too. Let’s pay everybody!!! Moron.

  28. Where’s the problem. The current agreement makes contracts easier for teams to agree to than ever, so perhaps it’s the players agents who are gumming up the works. If so they have nothing to protest about.

  29. There’s this thing, its called the collective bargaining agreement. And since you’re new to this football thing, all the above crying about paying who and when is covered in it. Rules are rules and when it expires, you may mount your high horse and call for instant pay for draft choices, but understand it might come at the expense of a concession the players will have to make, hence, ‘bargaining’.

  30. They have not played one down in the NFL which is not college. Get paid when you prove you are worth a hefty contract. To much sports media that think what they say is the gospel .

  31. And people wonder why the price of tickets and merchandise continue to escalate. As long as the players and their agents and union continue demanding more and more, the fans will continue to have to pay more, and more. Didn’t anyone learn anything from the demise of the American auto industry and the bankruptcy of the City of Detroit??? This fight is going to continue until the fans i.e. paying customers begin to vote with their pocket books and begin to tune them out…

  32. If they don’t make the roster why should they get paid? If I buy a suit, tie, shoes, and training for a job interview and then don’t get the job, do they still need to reimburse me?

    Unions are the downfall to most industries–US auto is the perfect example and soon to be fast food. Entitlement mentality. The team doesn’t make money until fans buy tickets; if you aren’t part of the team when games are played, should you really be paid?

  33. You must be anti-union. I’m not. Players should be paid based on seniority. There are two many rookies who wash out at a point in their initial contract. Let them prove their worth first, then pay them what they have displayed in nfl statiums and not on the promise of the back of their collegiate football card.

  34. The owners are generous enough. I know of no other business that allocates 48% of their gross revenues for labor. Don’t blame the owners, blame the superstars of the game that take a disproportionate amount of the salary cap pie at the expense of the 61 players on the team (e.g. Richard Sherman who will take over 10% of Seattle’s present 132m salary cap next year if all things remain the same). More money or the superstars and less money for the others.

  35. Players do get paid for not paying in the NFL. Christine Michael got $630k and Jesse Williams got $430k for redshirting during the 2013 nfl season. I have no problem with that because they have future value to the team. Just saying, players do get paid for not paying.

  36. I can’t believe how many people here think football players shouldn’t earn a paycheck until they’ve “proved themselves”. You work, you get paid.

    When you all get a new job, I hope you’re okay with the boss not paying you for the first few months until he’s satisfied that you’ve proved yourself.

  37. Newly drafted rookies should get basic “employee benefits” just the same as any other employee gets paid his first day on the job for orientation. Professionals across the board who are contractual do not step onto company property without the completion of the necessary paperwork in order to protect the interests of both the employee as well as the employer; basic interim contracts are valid that can be amended at anytime, so why all the fuss? I can’t believe how many people don’t understand that professional football is a job and players don’t “owe” their services to be donated for free. Being drafted by a franchise with a handshake from the commissioner says “Your hired”, welcome to our company, the NFL.

  38. As I understand, the 1st round deals, still take a while, as the agents piss and moan over terms. Now it is who does and doesnt have a fifth year option, I believe. So no, it isnt as cut and dry as it should be. Frankly, those contracts should all be standard and the only thing needed is signatures, but that isnt the case. So to point that finger totally on the teams isnt quite accurate.

    Yes, a default rider guaranteeing them money slotted between the adjacent picks should be standard.

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