Teams are taking unfair advantage of the concept of voided guarantees

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The Bears and linebacker Roquan Smith remain at an impasse, and they shouldn’t be.

They shouldn’t be at an impasse because no team should use the power to void future guarantees as, essentially, a ticket to get out from under a contract they regret.

The concept arises from the notion that, if a player gets in the kind of trouble that makes the team want to get rid of him, the team shouldn’t owe him any more money. That’s a fair outcome. But it’s not fair to use something that wouldn’t trigger a termination as a “gotcha” moment that gives the team an open-ended license to dump the player later, if the team chooses to do so.

For Smith, the notion that he’d lose all guarantees if he’s suspended for an on-field infraction at a time when the rules regarding helmer use are at best in flux has nothing to do with protecting the coffers against a scoundrel who can’t keep his life in order and everything to do with seizing on a technicality in order to potentially screw Smith if he ends up being a bust. That’s why it makes sense for Smith and his agents to hold firm. And that’s why the Bears need to find a graceful way out of this one, if that’s even possible at this point.

Regardless, Smith is doing the right thing in refusing to give in, like Jets quarterback Sam Darnold did regarding language that would wipe out guarantees in the event of a fine. Even if it means skipping the season and re-entering the draft in 2019, Smith shouldn’t bow to a term that is fundamentally unfair. Although some teams want to come off as tough, it’s far better to be smart. And the smart thing to do in this case would be to come up with something that looks like a compromise but that ultimately is a capitulation on a point over which the two sides never should have been fighting in the first place.

Moving forward, the NFL and NFL Players Association should agree that guarantees will void only in situations where a team promptly terminates a player in the aftermath of the incident that wipes out the guarantee. Any other approach gives team’s an unwarranted get-out-of-jail-free card, that can be freely used in the event of a new coach, new G.M., new owner, or simply a new direction.

20 responses to “Teams are taking unfair advantage of the concept of voided guarantees

  1. I’m a huge Bears fan, and you are spot on Florio! I’d rather see him sit out the season and re-enter the draft than sign a contract that totally benefits the team as he risks his health.

  2. Yet another example of the players getting railroaded in the current CBA. Who is negotiating the next round for the players? D. Smith? The same schmuck that got taken to the woodshed last time? Hahaha.

  3. The best solution for bears fans? Maybe that their GM quits. At least the Jets new when to give up before they totally imploded.

    The NY Jets can also offer Bears Darron Lee for Smith straight up.

    And I would like Jets to trade Leonard Williams for Khalil Mack or Aaron Donald, then sign either to a good extension.

  4. I agree as well, for however much or little that matters. Florio is right to acknowledge that these conditions have a fair purpose (e.g. a team cutting a player for a Greg Hardy or Bruce Miller type incident where the player is clearly engaging in harmful or unscrupulous activities). But the important issue arises when teams use those clauses to get out from paying out the full terms of the deal, or make a player think that he’ll be recieving guaranteed money when in fact the team can easily back out with a shaky excuse.

    Players can be greedy at times, that’s true, but teams are perfectly capable of doing so as well. It’s a business, and as we all know, successful businesses use whatever tools at their disposal to protect their interests. Anyone who’s actually bothered to read a “terms and conditions agreement” can vouch for the argument that companies will use whatever parameters possible to void their responsibilities and save some money.

  5. The NFLPA negotiated the CBA, the players should honor the terms as written.

    Seems that some of the players like to kneel during the anthem, and apparently the NFLPA claims that the CBA says they can.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    Maybe the NFLPA should agree to have all players stand at attention during the anthem and the NFL should agree to clean up the contract language.

    Solve two problems real quick.

  6. I disagree with the idea that the contract proposal is unfair. If a team wants the services of a player then the only consideration should be to offer a contract that the player will accept. The player, on the other hand, is free to pursue any line of work that he chooses. The players have the power as a group to lobby for minimum standards in all NFL contracts but outside of those parameters it is ultimately an agreement between the team and the player for his services. The argument that the team has an unfair advantage can be countered by an argument that the player has an unfair advantage by threatening to withhold his services.

  7. There’s a troll here that keeps saying Roquan doesn’t want to play for the Bears. I think he might be right. Roquan is obviously a momma’s boy that doesn’t want to leave Georgia.

    How else do you explain the lost playbook during his first month as a Bear? No one is that stupid. This contract stuff is just his next move.

    Good riddance. I’m a lifelong Bears’ fan and I can’t stand this kid.

  8. I’m sure you’re all much smarter then Cliff Stein who still serves as general council/attorney for the Bears. What does he know about player contracts and signing rookies…the nerve.

  9. If you’re a Bears fan this makes you doubt the team’s commitment to winning. You have Bears coaches saying the player needs to be signed and in camp. You have Bears management offering a contract stipulation that no other player in the entire league has in theirs. For what? To save a few bucks if it turns out they whiffed on the draft pick. This is why the Bears can’t contend anymore. They don’t care as much about on-field success as they do about nickels and dimes and showing who’s boss.

  10. Anyone who thinks this has anything to do with the CBA is dead wrong and ignorant. This is about negotiating contracts and not showing good faith on the part of the team (s).

  11. I was with u to the last point, when u said the team should have to cut the player right after an incident if they wanna void guarantees. That would help in some cases not all. like lane johnson. He got a 2nd suspension that voided his money. Rightfully so. The Eagles shouldnt b on the hook if he messes up a third time, or even if he doesnt mess up but hes not as good without the juice. But they shouldnt have to cut him either before they find out. The team deserves protection and he should have the right to earn it.

  12. The NFL officials are having trouble even explaining the helmet rule to players during camp.We have no idea how it will be called so any agent that let a LB sign that contract would be risking his reputation also. An agent would literally be better off quitting than signing off on that. Bear fans can be mad at the kid all they want but if it was your kid would you want him signing a deal that could cost him millions of dollars because the ref called a penalty on him? You can be a fan without being a hypocrite.

  13. I don’t like that last paragraph, it opens up the door for a cut them now ask questions later approach to save on some guaranteed money.

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