The NFL Players Association reportedly intended to pursue a collusion case against the Broncos and Cowboys if receivers Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant, respectively, didn’t get new long-term deals before last Wednesday’s deadline for signing franchise-tagged players to multi-year contracts. The implication that it would all go away if they sign new contracts may not apply.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA is still assessing whether to proceed with the collusion case. Specifically, the NFLPA has not lifted the notice requiring the teams to preserve any emails, text messages, or other documents that could be relevant to the case.
On one hand, it will be difficult for Thomas or Bryant to prove that they suffered any tangible financial loss due to collusion, given that they both signed five-year, $70 million contracts. On the other hand, if the Broncos and Cowboys violated the CBA by colluding, there’s value to all players in exposing it, since it could prevent other teams from doing it in the future.
Also, the mere threat of a viable collusion case could be used to squeeze the NFL into a settlement or some other agreement that benefits the players generally.
The decision ultimately may come down to whether the NFLPA feels strongly about the evidence that has been harvested. For now, the NFLPA has one key shred of proof: Expected testimony from Bryant that Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said during a phone conversation that Jones spoke to Broncos G.M. John Elway about the Bryant/Thomas negotiations.
To get more evidence, the case needs to proceed to the discovery process. And it’s possible that there will be other evidence. No one will know that unless and until the NFLPA decides to proceed with a collusion case.
Which means that the best move for now would be to proceed with the discovery process, and see what happens.