Bad news, the antiquated funding rule is one of the last impediments to a new labor deal. Good news, the antiquated funding rule is one of the last impediments to a new labor deal.
It’s good news because it means that an agreement has apparently been reached on far bigger issues. It’s bad news because the NFL continues to inexplicably cling to a provision that was first put in place to help players, and that in more recent years has been used to hurt them.
Before NFL teams became the cash factories that they now are, the union wanted to ensure that guaranteed payments would indeed be paid, by requiring a large percentage of the future guarantees to be placed into escrow. Now that each and every NFL franchise has become Big-Ass Money, LLC, teams have relied on the funding rule to justify a refusal to offer significant future guarantees, claiming that they don’t want to have to put future millions into escrow.
The league is now being pressured to ditch the funding rule as part of the ongoing CBA discussions. And the league is resisting for now.
Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter whether the funding rule does or doesn’t exist. For the same reason that the protection is no longer needed, teams can easily put millions into escrow, because the owners have it. Two years ago, for example, the funding rule didn’t stop the Vikings from giving quarterback Kirk Cousins a three-year, fully-guaranteed deal that eventually pays out $84 million.
So just get rid of the funding rule and let teams decide whether to fully guarantee contracts three or more years in advance. If they will, they will. If they won’t, they won’t. Either way, it shouldn’t stand in the way of getting a new labor deal finalized.