Agent didn’t know that Le’Veon Bell possibly doesn’t have to show up to force QB tender

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So the theory that the Steelers have leaked the idea that Le'Veon Bell doesn’t have to show up this year to force his way to free agency next year definitely holds water.

NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew, who is represented by Bell’s agent, Adisa Bakari, recently acknowledged that Bakari didn’t know that Bell possibly will be eligible for the quarterback franchise tender in 2019, even if Bell doesn’t play at all in 2018.

“So what happened was that once that came out, that they’re now digging and reading and trying to understand the language, because there’s a lot of language in the CBA, especially for this particular instance,” Jones-Drew said. “So they’re going back now to really sit down and figure out [the language].”

Jones-Drew also suggested that the relevant language in the “new” CBA (i.e., the one passed seven years ago) has changed. But it hasn’t.

From Article 10, Section 15(c) of the 2011 CBA: “If any Franchise Player does not play in the NFL in a League Year, his Prior Team shall have the right to designate such player as a Franchise Player or a Transition Player the following League Year, if such designation is otherwise available to the Team, except that the applicable Tender must be made and any 120% Tender shall be measured from the Player’s Prior Year Salary.”

From Article XX, Section 17(a) of the 2006 CBA:  “If a Franchise Player does not play in the NFL in a League Year, his Prior Team shall have the right to designate such player as a Franchise Player or a Transition Player the following League Year, if such designation is otherwise available to the Team, except that the applicable tender must be made and any 120% tender shall be measured from the Player’s prior year salary.”

The unresolved question is this: If Bell, franchise-tagged a second time this year, will be treated as being franchise-tagged a second time or a third time in 2019, if he doesn’t play in 2018? And the language quoted above doesn’t provide a conclusive answer.

Which makes the team’s willingness to acknowledge that a third tag in 2019 counts as the third tag under the CBA (making him eligible for the quarterback tender) even if he doesn’t show up this year seem even more bizarre. The league and its teams never tip their hand on issues like this, and they never (I guess I can no longer say “never”) admit preemptively that the league’s position would lose, if push came to shove.

Here, who knows whether the team/league or the player/union would prevail? The fact that the team/league is leaking to league-employed reporters that Bell can sit out the full year and still be eligible for the quarterback franchise tender suggests that the team simply doesn’t want him to show up this year.

68 responses to “Agent didn’t know that Le’Veon Bell possibly doesn’t have to show up to force QB tender

  1. This is getting close to conspiracy theory-land, agonizing over excruciatingly small details which even the player’s agent isn’t aware of.

    Occam’s Razor.

  2. The way things have unfolded over the past two months I doubt anybody (even the Browns) would slap a franchise tag on Bell. He will likely regret not signing the one the Steelers gave him.

  3. The most fascinating thing is that no one saw this. And literally 100s of lawyers are pouring over this thing all the time. It squeaked out last week on a podcast and suddenly it is the narrative. How many lawyers does it take to read a CBA?

  4. I think there are a lot of things Bell’s agent didn’t know. I wonder if he can say “with or without cheese” because his next job might be at Burger King

  5. How could the agent not know? This is like having enough money for a lawyer, but getting a public defender to handle your case and then asking…. What happened.

  6. Einstein couldn’t figure out contract law in 2018, so how on earth does anyone expect the Steelers or Bell’s agent or the NFL office to have a clue. One thing you can put money on, however, is that multiple lawyers will make plenty of money arguing about this mess. Things just get stranger and stranger with each passing day in what used to be a pretty wonderful country where common sense and a hand shake were more than enough to make an honest deal.

  7. Not only did Bell’s agent not know this, but apparently every other agent of every other player that has ever faced a second franchise tag didn’t know this. Also every professional commenter talking about when Bell “had to” show up didn’t know this.
    In fact, so few people knew it, that it’s likely not correct.

  8. rickj963’s interpretation of this may seem odd but it makes a sight more sense than the prior year salary being a figure that was in a tender that was made by the team, but never accepted by the player – a sum of money which never became contractually due by the team to the player and no part of which was paid by the team or received by the player. How could a sum which was never contractually due and was never paid be deemed to be the “prior year salary” (if you accept that a “salary” is a sum of money paid by an employer to an employee in implement of a contractual arrangement between them) ?

  9. What is the point of the November 13th date? Somehow, I think there is further language that is, again, being missed that clarifies this situation. Like some further offsetting reward for the team or “penalty” for the player. Makes no sense.

  10. Lilevil74 – spot on – any other interpretation of the language would be absurd, and it dorsn’t take 100’s of lawyers to argue that out. Pretty obvious really.

  11. If he hasn’t signed his tender, he hasn’t made any money (no salary). If he signs the tender and makes 7 weeks worth of salary, that’s the number the Steelers could use for their calculations.

  12. inozwetrust says:
    November 8, 2018 at 3:45 pm
    I think there are a lot of things Bell’s agent didn’t know. I wonder if he can say “with or without cheese” because his next job might be at Burger King

    ===============================

    well im sure if his agent became your coworker you’d be cool with it. someones gotta remind you when the fries are done.

  13. If the CBA is an agreement with the owners and players I don’t see why this would a shocker. The franchise tag is in place for the owners not to lose out on a valuable player on their team with no long term commitment. So it wouldnt surprise me if the players agreed to it if they were compensated accordingly.

    I understand the draft and the contracts these players get when drafted. What I dont understand is why a team can hold somebody on a team against their will after that contract. That’s essentially what the tag does for at least 2 more years.

    It would have been smart for the players to go against that. If him not playing does in fact lead to a QB tag next year Bell played it smart. I think the owners probably signed off on it because they doubted somebody would leave so much money on the table. Up to this point I cant think of too many people who sat out a whole year because of it. So it’s worked out for them.

    I dont know if he can get the QB tag or not. Nobody really knows if Bell is going to show up. If he can get the the QB tag it would be a huge plus to the players. Kirk Cousins and Bell are paving the way for future contracts for players after them.

  14. lol. and this is supposed to be your agent. This whole thing has turned into a disaster for LB. It not only shows what he values first but now he’s probably going to go to a team who isn’t going to be any good next season. That’s too bad, I was hoping he’d be a Steeler for life until greed took over.

  15. what used to be a pretty wonderful country where common sense and a hand shake were more than enough to make an honest deal.

    ++++

    Ask a Native-American about that. Or a coal-miner. Or…

  16. How can a salary for a contract that doesn’t exist, count as the base for a salary that does? Now we’re getting into some serious space-time continuum stuff.

  17. In both versions it says 120% of the salary of the “prior” year. “Prior” is also used to refer to the team. So what was his salary for the last or “prior” year (2017)?

    The calculation can’t possibly be based on the tender for this year (2018). Since he didn’t play this year, his salary for this year is 0.

    Next year the team can franchise him for 120% of the 2017 number.

    Is that the QB value you are referencing?

  18. mrbigass says:
    November 8, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    The real question is why does Jones-Drew need an agent?

    ———————————————-
    Because entertainment contracts screw a person just as hard, if not harder, than sports contracts. Every talking head has an agent. If they didn’t, the networks would be in total control and abuse their employees.

  19. IF this is a message from the Steelers is that the tag is the $25 million amount, the message is we won’t tag Bell. Or more directly. the message is don’t come back and we wont tag you either way.
    Can they agree to this straight up or do they have to play games?

  20. What I’ve learned about this year is when selfish ballers like LeVeon act like he has and when their back ups have filled in admirably it makes my decision for the following year MUCH easier.
    I’d want nothing to do with LeVeon. I wouldn’t take him for 5 million/year.

  21. Agent didn’t know that Le’Veon Bell possibly doesn’t have to show up
    ————————————————————————————-
    Isn’t POSSIBLY the operative word here? Bell sits out the entire season and he will very likely find himself in a court case with the Steelers claiming he is back where he was at the beginning of the current season.

    If I’m his agent, I tell Bell to report this week and sign his tender. The Steelers can either pay him the 800K a week, or withdraw the tender and allow him to sign with Baltimore, NE or some other team that will bounce them in the playoffs.

  22. It does make some sense. When does a player become designated a franchise player? When the team places the tag on him, or when he signs the tag? If it’s when the player signs the tag, then why is the team limited to the number of players in which it can place the tender? Regardless of whether or not the player signs the tag, it prevents him from participating in free agency, meaning he is inpacted by the the whether he plays or not

  23. One thing we are missing is what ‘insurance’ – if any, was Bell and his agent able to secure that may offset some of his losses

  24. “except that the applicable tender must be made and any 120% tender shall be measured from the Player’s prior year salary”

    Would be based of the last salary that he got when he played. Not this past years salary where he didn’t play at all.

  25. Where did anybody get the idea that Bell has to be paid as a quarterback? The CBA is clear, it’s a 120 percent of the top 5 players at the POSITION THE PLAYER TOOK THE MOST SNAPS AT.

  26. It’s seemed to me all along since this issue surfaced that the real question is which year is the prior year for determining salary. If 2018 ends with him having zero salary, then does 2017 or 2018 apply for the 2019 tag? The language in the CBA leaves the question hanging, IMO.

  27. yamchargers says:
    November 8, 2018 at 3:38 pm
    The most fascinating thing is that no one saw this. And literally 100s of lawyers are pouring over this thing all the time. It squeaked out last week on a podcast and suddenly it is the narrative. How many lawyers does it take to read a CBA?

    Probably not as many as it takes to write a CBA.

  28. This makes more sense than the week 11 reporting thing. Why wouldn’t this tag count if he sat?

    Another point…if anything, Bells holdout did a GREAT service to every dissatisfied tagged player in the NFL. Now that the players have a firm admission from a team that this is how the provision is interpreted, you should see a lot more holdouts and better contracts given to players.

    Good job LB! Every player should thank you.

  29. The LaVerne LaBelle team of himself and his yutz agent can go pound sand.

    The Pittsburgh team does not need LaVerne and will not pay that premium after seeing what his replacement can do.

    LaVerne, you fish eyed fool, you might have just been the Anti-Kirk Cousins and downgraded your possible worth in the NFL with other teams. There is no one who will put up with your selfishness for the money you want. New England will take you for $1 million per year. And that is the best offer you’ll get.

  30. Agent didn’t know that Le’Veon Bell possibly doesn’t have to show up to force QB tender
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    That is because it is not accurate. The applicable paragraph for a player who does not sign/play and is again tagged specifically says he can ONLY be tagged IAW section 2(a)i which is the nonexclusive tag section. The QB money or 144% option for a third tag ONLY applies to the exclusive tag section. If Bell does not sign he CANNOT get the huge tag without some legal gymnastics as to when a particular paragraph is applied.

    Surely there are legal arguments that can be made by Bell but when? His status would be in limbo starting on the last day he can be designated (the only day the team would do it in this case) and the designation would be made at the lower level rather than the higher one. Bell would need two arguments to be settled. 1) that he must win the battle over the amount that should have been tendered in the offer and 2) that the team is obligated to maintain the tag at the higher level without the ability to rescind it at the point of ruling on the first argument. Meanwhile, the actual time and free agency moves along while Bell is trapped in limbo land. He could win and still lose depending on the timing of the ruling(s)

  31. There’s not a running back on the planet that is worth QB money. The Steelers are doing just fine without him. With the possible exception of QB, when will players learn there is always someone waiting to take their job?

  32. That wording can be interpreted different ways and its not improbable that the agent believed that to have it get interpreted in the way more favorable to the player would require beating the NFL in court. He might not have expected the NFL to suddenly announce that interpretation. Its probable that they did in order to encourage Bell to just take the rest of the year off (at this point it helps the Steelers in the bigger picture) but still it was not expected.

    Thats what I think we are seeing.

  33. bws1066 says:
    November 9, 2018 at 12:15 am
    Bell was an idiot to sit out the year. I feel sorry to the team that signs him to a big contract. Let him play in Buffalo or Oakland.

    ———————
    Its not likely to be a good team that has the cap space to afford what he is demanding. He will likely be facing a choice there.

  34. The franchise tag has existed for quite some time and I would argue has served its purpose well. Most of the time, teams use it for a year to get more time to work on an extension to keep the player there long term or the player walks after one year of being tagged.

    Tagging someone twice is crap. I know it’s allowed, but there is a reason why it’s only happened twice. If you’re not convinced that a player is worth big $$$ after one year of being tagged, either trade the guy or let him walk. With Cousins it was bad, but he was still able to get big $$$ when he hit free agency.

    When you’re talking about RB, a position where players typically hit the wall at 29, I tend to be more sympathetic to the player. They offered him less guaranteed money that he stood to get by signing the franchise tender. Gee, whatever could have possessed him to hold out?

    Good for Bell, I hope he gets a big contract when he finally hits the open market.

  35. If a player refuses to play (and he is not injured) while under contract, the team should be able to tag that player to be paid the leagues minimum wage the next season. Assuming the team is doing nothing to prevent the player from showing up and is providing all necessary training, the player is in breach of contract. The most that player should be able to make the next year is the leagues minimum. Anything less than this, the NFL is playing with no balls.

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