The NFL has decided to proceed (at least for now) with free agency this week — and to blame the decision in advance on the NFL Players Association. Some within the league aren’t happy.
Peter King cites an unnamed owner and a pair of unnamed General Managers in his Football Morning in America column who “were somewhere between frustrated and furious” that free agency hasn’t been delayed.
The owner described the decision as “tone deaf” in light of world events.
“Tone deaf is right,” one of the General Managers told King. “The world has stopped. We’re in a national emergency as a country and we do this? It’s awful. We’re telling the rest of the world we don’t care. Can you imagine the reaction to some player signing a $60 million contract this week and that being in the headlines while thousands and thousands of people are losing their jobs because of this virus. It’s ridiculous.”
“It’s arrogant,” the other General Manager told King. “It looks gross. We need to chill out for a while. The optics of it are going to be awful.”
A head coach shared a similar sentiment with PFT on Sunday evening.
“Pay attention to the world,” the coach said. “A national curfew/quarantine is coming.”
In contrast to those who are upset internally, plenty of people are happy about the situation externally. Fans looking for something/anything that looks or feels normal want free agency to proceed. Some are angered by the possibility that it won’t happen as scheduled.
It still may not happen. As explained last night, discussions will continue today between the NFL Players Association and the NFL. If, as the league is telling anyone who will listen, free agency is proceeding because the union refuses to postpone it (which implies that the league wants to postpone it), the league could offer some sort of mild sweetener to the newly-minted CBA to entice the union to agree.
That’s how collective bargaining works. Whenever the league doesn’t want to do something that the union wants to do, the league shrugs as says, “That’s how collective bargaining works,” and then tries to squeeze a concession from the union. Now that the tables are turned, and now that the league wants the union to do something that the league wants to do (if the league truly wants to delay the process), it’s time for the league to make the concession. So give the union a little something to secure an agreement that, in due time, the annual spending spree will happen.
In assessing those offers, the union needs to consider the very real possibility that, between the time that teams and agents strike tentative deals and the time for formalizing them, a national quarantine may prevent that from happening for weeks, throwing millions of dollars in unenforceable commitments into a state of limbo. So it may ultimately be better to press pause on everything for now, and to reassess the situation when the world returns to normal, hopefully sooner than later.