DeMaurice Smith accuses owners of “criminally gaming the game itself” by refusing to do guaranteed contracts

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
Getty Images

It’s been obvious ever since the ink dried on Deshaun Watson‘s five-year, fully-guaranteed contract that Lamar Jackson wants one. But for a single stray report from several weeks back that Lamar never asked for such a deal, everything said and done privately and publicly has pointed to Lamar wanting the same structure from the Ravens that Deshaun received from the Browns.

The latest piece of indisputable visual evidence to support this conclusion comes from a powerful and passionate article posted this week by NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. In it, Smith takes aim at owners for using fully-guaranteed contracts as the latest device for exerting control over the player workforce.

“The NFL Draft and the franchise tag system exist because owners have colIuded in the past to both depress and restrict markets,” Smith writes. “This time, they are criminally gaming the game itself.”

Smith’s argument flows from the fact that Lamar Jackson currently is available for discussion, negotiation, and ultimately execution of a fully-guaranteed offer sheet. However, no team has shown any interest in even talking to him.

“We are all staring at the same answer to the obvious questions,” Smith writes. “Why did [Kirk] Cousins and [Deshaun] Watson get fully guaranteed contracts while others didn’t? Or to be more specific, why have the Baltimore Ravens and other teams publicly (at least initially) made such a point to say they are not going to compensate Lamar Jackson with a fully guaranteed contract like Cousins or Watson? Let’s be clear, in my nearly 15-year career as Executive Director, I have never witnessed teams being so quick to publicly announce their lack of interest in an MVP quarterback, who is in his prime and who is also going to get an injury guarantee, regardless of his contract.”

It remains stunning, to say the least, that so many teams emerged as reportedly being not interested in Lamar Jackson in the hours after the Ravens officially applied the non-exclusive franchise tag. Even if it was the product of reporters being persistent and aggressive, the parade of “NOPE” created the distinct impression of coordination — especially when the simplest and smartest answer from the teams would have been, “We’re keeping all options open.”

And as previously said on PFT Live and other radio programs and likely written here (it’s been a long week; I can’t remember for sure), the seeds of collusion were planted a year ago, with the league-wide reaction to the Watson contract. This time around, teams know not to flutter too close to the fully-guaranteed flame. They’ll never have to say no to a fully-guaranteed contract if they never engage Lamar in discussions as to what he wants.

Smith believes that the league is taking an even stronger stand as to Lamar Jackson in order to prevent other quarterbacks who will be getting new deals soon (e.g., Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts) from getting fully-guaranteed contracts, too.

“The NFL wants to send a message to all of the above-named stars that they will not get a fully guaranteed contract, simply because other first-ballot Hall of Famers didn’t get them and — if they can help it — because Jackson didn’t get one, either,” Smith writes. “The message for the non-quarterback free agent market is equally harsh: You don’t stand a chance of getting this type of contract.”

The broader point, Smith believes, is about power.

“The message is clear from the league,” Smith writes “WE will control you. The unions and players have fought this for years, and it will undoubtedly continue.”

It will continue for as long as the players let it continue. For as long as they continue to show up for voluntary workouts. For as long as they continue to give the NFL and its teams free publicity and promotion on their own personal platforms.

For as long as the players won’t collectively take a stand and push back against those who control the sport, ultimately in the form of enduring a lockout or staging a strike long enough to miss regular-season games.

167 responses to “DeMaurice Smith accuses owners of “criminally gaming the game itself” by refusing to do guaranteed contracts

  1. If Smith is bummed then maybe he should have waited until a QB who is actually worthy of a fully guaranteed contract is up for one.

  2. At least D Smith is admitting that he is screwing Lamar Jackson. From what was released yesterday by a local Baltimore reporter. Jackson was going to sign a deal 3 different times, most recently last September. Jackson sound enthusiastic about the deal. Then he would consult with nflpa who would tell him not too sign it. So here we are. Sounds like this would never been an issue if nflpa didn’t get involved.

  3. If good QBs aren’t getting guaranteed contracts average Quarterbacks like Lamar definently aren’t getting guaranteed contracts.

  4. so much of the money is artificially inflated that both sides know will never get paid out. if you want a fully guaranteed contract, expect less money… fully guaranteed pie in the sky contracts every year… nobody is signing up for that… i mean mostly nobody..

  5. As pointed out with Byard being asked to take a pay cut the team has the upper hand. If every player had a fully guaranteed contract imagine the roster turnover as all these players with say one, two or three year contracts that would be free agents. Great for the players but a nightmare for the teams.

  6. An opinion piece from the President of the NFLPA isn’t “evidence.” It’s opinion. Jackson has been injured at a critical point in the season the last two years. That’s why he can’t get a guaranteed contract. You’re asking an owner to give up 2 first round draft picks and 230 million dollars for someone who might not be there in the playoffs.

  7. I have witnessed more than once a player that receives a big fat guaranteed contract will loose their incentive to give 110%. It’s like paying a child to do a chore before the chore is done. Where is the incentive?

  8. Former Vikings GM Rick Spielman is solely to blame for these moronic guaranteed contracts. The Vikings have been handcuffed by Cousins contract ever since.

  9. I feel like I typically side with the players on most disputes with NFL owners but between a lack of reliable Performance and Injury rates I don’t see anything unethical, unfair or unreasonable with the lack of contractual guarantees. Who is crying for Lamar other than Lamar and DeMaurice? There’s zero sympathetic momentum on this. But what big, tough words for a guy who by many accounts seemed to cave during the last CBA negotiations.

  10. Close the pie hole Smith.
    Owners can do what they want.
    Don’t like it, quit.

    Fans we just want great action. All this nonsense has to end.

  11. Cousins has missed only 1 game in his career and that was due to a positive covid test. That’s one difference. The issue tho is the salary cap…if you are going to be paying guys $30+ mil a year they can’t be missing games, especially at the QB position.

  12. If you were an owner would you give up two firsts and a fully gtd deal to Lamar? One major injury and your entire franchise is crippled. Not to mention I don’t have full faith in his ability as a passer.

    Only reason this is even up for discussion is cause one poorly run franchise did what they normally do. CLE set the table by reward Deshaun Watson, cause that’s the only way they were able to pry him from teams offering less gtd money.

  13. “The message is clear from the league,” Smith writes “WE will control you. The unions and players have fought this for years, and it will undoubtedly continue.”

    Imagine thinking that an employer has control over how they pay their employees. That’s simply outrageous!!!!!
    The NFL players’ union has always been a joke. It’s largely their failures that have allowed the owners to have just distinct contract advantages over the players when compared to other sports leagues. Repeated incompetence in their collective bargaining agreements and always looking to blame the outcomes not on their mistakes but people who actually know what they’re doing when they sign a CBA.

  14. If an employee wants to dictate the pay scale,become an employer
    Or stop complaining

  15. In a sport with more injuries and shorter careers, guaranteed contracts are non-starter for all but the dumbest organizations.
    Players would have display supernatural abilities to avoid injuries in order for that to change.
    And Lamar Jackson is definitely not the player to break that trend. Not only injury prone, but also seemingly without an immune system given the number of times that he’s missed games because he was sick.
    So no, it’s not stunning that so few teams showed interest in an ‘MVP’ level quarterback who’s shown a consistent decline since that remarkable season.

  16. “The NFL Draft and the franchise tag system exist because owners have colluded in the past to both depress and restrict markets”

    The one thing that restricts and depresses every player market is the salary cap, which the players union has agreed to. In fact, the format of the NFL draft and the franchise tag all have been approved by the players union.

    Is there real collusion going on? Who knows. I know that in the real world if company A ridiculously overpaid one of their employees, company B would probably laugh at their stupidity and not imitate them. That isn’t collusion, that’s common sense.

    If Lamar Jackson was clearly the best QB in the league, perhaps some team would give up the two firsts and give him what he wants. If he was the best QB in the league, Baltimore might have given him the contract he wanted in the first place. Since none of that has happened, it’s fair to assume his actual value and personal decisions are just as likely to be the reason he’s in this position as collusion is.

  17. It’s hard for me to get too worked up over billionaire owners haggling with players over contracts worth tens of millions of dollars annually as to whether the contract is fully guaranteed or not. Am I supposed to believe someone is actually suffering here?

  18. Smith never worked in the real world, and probably makes a good penny as a rep. Everyone painting Jackson as a sympathetic figure misses the point. Clowns made an economically stupid signing, and all owners are supposed to follow suit?

  19. Guaranteed contracts will be a thing across the NFL within two years. Lamar will be a trendsetter in yet another way. How you cannot see the greatness in this player is beyond me. Lamar has paved the way for running QBs and now he will do the same for the future of NFL contracts.

  20. The free market will determine your value. No reason to get angry when you do not get the price you think you deserve in your own little world.

  21. He only has himself to blame. The market changed. There are viable QBs in free agency and a strong QB draft this year and next year. Last year only one QB went in the first round. It is supply and demand coupled with declining play and availability driving down his price.

  22. No contract should be guaranteed. I can understand signing bonuses but giving someone huge money for a job they havent completed or even begun yet is insane and poor business.

  23. It could be that no one want to try to negotiate with Lamar Jackson, since he is acting as his own agent. He has not been successful to date, actually he has shorted himself.

  24. A team publicly saying ‘No’ ends all Lamar media nonsense for that team right there. Saying they’re ‘keeping all options open’ invites the media to continue to harasses them about it for weeks or months.

  25. i think at some point teams will do g’td contracts, they will just be shorter in length and less money, maybe this is where the percentage of cap thing starts showing up. eventually the language in a g’d contract will be yhe same across the board and the money and length will be a fill in the blank.

  26. He wants to turn the NFL into MLB. The way the players have power in MLB, i think it hurts the sport i watch on the field. Guy As contract was a mistake? Oh well youre stuck with him for 7 years

  27. Wonder if Lamar realizes he’s being used by the NFLPA and while it may seem they have his best interests in mind, in reality they’re just trying to use him as a stepping stone for a massive shift in the way business is done? 2 qb’s in history have gotten guaranteed contracts, it’s not a trend, it’s not the future, and it’s simply not the way life usually works.

  28. Guaranteed contracts in baseball ruined that sport for me. Specifically, Joe Mauer.

  29. Guaranteed contracts are franchise killers in the NHL, many examples out there of teams signing a player to long term fully guaranteed deals, only to then have the player either fall off a cliff, performance wise, or suffer a long term injury. The team is then left in cap hell and being non competitive for years. It is the fans that are left paying top dollar for tickets to watch a team that just can not compete. Players that have been out of the game for literally, years, are still counting big dollars on their teams salary cap.
    The main reason the NFL is truly the only league in North America that a team can be a bottom feeder one year, then become a contender the next is due in a big part, to their ability to move on from a player who has become unproductive, or injured long term. Harsh, but the recipe for fans to keep some level of hope for their teams, even in the lean years.

  30. The players don’t wanna practice, and they’ve bargained for time restrictions when they do practice, and they’ve bargained to get padded practices limited, and they still wanna have guaranteed contracts? Nope

  31. i am a proponent of “earning” your pay. i believe contracts should be heavily incentivized, not guaranteed. you play hard and play well you get paid. you dog it, dont show for practices, malinger, are a lazy pos, or just plain stink you dont make as much.

  32. Wait until you guys find out how the owners who signed the big contracts always preyed on their players in ways to get their money back from them.

  33. These business owners will do what they feel is best for their bottom line. Like all successful business owners do.

    You cannot force teams to provide hundreds of millions of dollars into escrow accounts only to see the player or players get injured. The salaries have skyrocketed, guaranteed money continues to increase, but there comes a pivot point and paying QB’s $250M in guaranteed contracts is not feasible.

    There is a level of hedging that takes place to protect the overall health of the team finances.

  34. Smith’s histrionics are clearly just colorful PR propaganda and shouldn’t be taken seriously as factual.

    It seems simple to me. Teams just don’t want to pay Jackson what he’s asking. Cousins and Watson are cautionary tales that almost everyone views as mistakes.

    If a player asked for a billion dollars, everyone would think it beyond absurd. On the other end, Jackson was already offered at least $133 million guaranteed. So clearly there is just a current line for what is acceptable and affordable within the salary cap, and it’s somewhere between what Jackson wants and at the minimum, what he’s already been offered.

    Most players know how to negotiate and accept offers. Smith seems to have found a patsy willing to be unreasonable and inflexible, but maybe he should have tried harder to find one who’s actually won something and not failed to finish two straight seasons.

  35. The amount of goldbricking will go through the roof!!! Perfectly healthy guys in street clothes with alleged ‘injuries” joking on the sidelines, running around, just like they do in the NBA and MLB. You already got players holding out in games. Roquan Smith purposely missing tackles. Players taking themselves out of games.

  36. Lamar would easily be able to sign a contract with $100M+ (even $150M+) in “guarantees” that for all intents and purposes he would receive. That is a hell of a lot more guaranteed money that most CEO’s of major corporations would see if they didn’t perform up to expectations.

  37. Being a part of the NFLPA’s fight for guaranteed contracts his hurting Lamar’s career. They need to stop using him, and advise him to be open to a contract like Kyler Murrays(230/180 guaranteed), or Wilson(245/160M).

    This is Lamars first big contract, take the money.

  38. If it was such an important issue the NFLPA should have held their ground during the most recent contract negotiations for it until the owners agreed to it. Same with the draft. Instead they caved. If they are unhappy, they have Noone to blame but themselves.

  39. Well gee! If the players don’t like the conditions of their employment perhaps they should exercise their civil rights and pursue alternate careers! Maybe they could use those college degrees to pursue jobs in Theoretical Physics or Artificial Intelligence! Or better yet, maybe the NFLPA should start its OWN league!

  40. He can thank the stupid Browns for doing that first.No such thing in life as a guarantee the NFL is still not for long and it never works for the player of the team to do a contact like that.

  41. No one is forcing players to play in such ‘oppressive’ league that has created thousands of multi-millionaires out of a workforce that would otherwise be flipping burgers.

  42. Sounds like the owners are just being smart about this. It’s too risky to give a guaranteed contract for zillions of dollars when one bad hit could knock a player out for months.

  43. the problem is the NFL cap system… if you cut a guy it takes a rocket scientist to figure out the cap structure…. if the NFL cap system was like the NBA cap system… I think far more guaranteed contracts would be offered (IE you can buy a player out and it wouldn’t destroy your cap for the next 3-5 years)…. teams aren’t hurting for cash flow… they want cap space.. hence you only get guarantees when its time to re structure for cap flexibility. Make the cap make more sense.. and more players will get to keep the contracts they signed.

  44. There are millions of jobs outside the NFL. Lamar should see if he can find one out there that will guarantee him 200 to 300 million. I can’t count how many jobs I refused to take because they wouldn’t fully guarantee 50 million a year for 5 years regardless of performance.

  45. Get good at baseball. They hand out guaranteed contracts in MLB. In the NFL, the wrong one could cripple a franchise. Just because the Browns are stupid, doesn’t mean everyone else should be forced into the same.

  46. Imagine Haynesworth or JaMarcus Russell getting a fully guaranteed contract and there’s your answer

  47. Sometimes the answer is simple. In almost every instance, giving in to a fully guaranteed NFL contract is just plain stupid.

  48. Guaranteed contracts will only hurt the fans as teams cripple their cap space with contracts-gone-wrong. But, D.Smith could give two rats about the fans.

  49. Give them an option. Lower salary cap and guaranteed contracts or higher cap and no guaranteed contracts

  50. You get what you can Negotiate. In every negotiation there are 3 elements, Power, Time and Information. A player such as Tom Brady in his prime has some power and a strong position from which to negotiate. If the Ravens hadn’t attached the Franchise Tag to Lamar Jackson he would have more power to negotiate, but teams also have to consider the cost of 2 First Round picks in the formula. Kirk Cousins signed his franchise tender for 2 years and then became a true free agent with more power to negotiate. DeMaurice Smith is a fraud. Surely after being the Head of the Players Union he understands the difference between the situation of Cousins and Jackson. Let Jackson play out his 2 Franchise Tags and he is free to sign where ever he wants. If he shows some durability and leads his team to some playoff wins or a Superbowl the Power Dynamic changes and he is in a much better position to negotiate.

  51. Dee Smith needs to be reminded that LJ quit in his team to protect his health entering the final year of a contract. Fine. If he has zero incentive to make it back to the field because he’ll be making the same money sitting on the sidelines, sitting at home for a playoff game or being pancaked by DE’s, then why would a team offer a guaranteed contract?

    NFLPA has done him wrong.

  52. The precedent for guaranteed contracts was set with Kirk “Mister Regular Season” Cousins. Watson’s guaranteed contract came next. So why is everyone up in Lamar’s face for asking for the same thing? The market has been set. Supply and demand being what it is, he will get his deal, sooner or later and rightfully so. This league is drowning in its own greed. I do not get the animosity towards Lamar or any other player for striking while the iron is hot.

  53. I said it in previous replies, the nflpa is using Lamar to sue the nfl for collusion, in the same way kapernik did and in the same vein as Flores is doing now for getting fires cause he stinks as a HC. The narrative is the same basically for all 3. Kap- amazing young black qb who isn’t getting signed cause he kneeled, really just average qb who was unpopular with a large majority of paying fans. Flores- genius hc who players loved was successfuland only firedcause he was black, really not even amazing DC who rubbed ppl the wrong way and was not successful. Now we have lamar- amazing, former mvp who can win and transform the position due to bis athletic abilities but can’t get a ridiculous fully guaranteed contract cause he is black,really an average qb with great athletic ability who won 1 mvp 5 yrs ago, who is not accurate, gives up on pass plays too soon, has injury and durability issues and quit on his team. Ok, I see the collusion mike

  54. Nobody should have guaranteed contracts. If mahomes and Allen don’t have them, then nobody should :

  55. Mahomes. Burrow. Allen. Brady. Rodgers.

    A short list of guys better than Watson and Jackson who don’t have guaranteed contracts.

    There is no collusion. Cleveland made a horrible business decision and the other teams refuse to make the same horrible decision for a guy who isn’t even the best, nor close to the best, in the league.

  56. “It remains stunning, to say the least, that so many teams emerged as reportedly being not interested in Lamar Jackson in the hours after the Ravens officially applied the non-exclusive franchise tag”

    I thought he was offered a 3 year guaranteed contract by the Ravens for 133m? If the problem is it wasn’t for 5 years than that’s not the Raven’s problem that they don’t want to guarantee another 80m to a guy who been injured a bit the last couple seasons and then refused to come back for the playoffs last season without a new contract.

    Even if they league goes to all guaranteed contracts, what it means is most players will not get them longer than 1-3 years. The teams are not going to start handing out 5 and 10 year contracts all guaranteed.

  57. If you are not producing anything on the field or capable to produce, why should you just keep getting money? What is this, the government? Nahhh, you work, you get paid. Way life is. It is the whole reason for huge “signing bonuses” and everyone knows it.

  58. Smith is full of crap …. I like how every now and then he says something to try to justify his job. Owners should tell the NFLPA we will have guaranteed contracts when we have guaranteed salary limits.

  59. Sounds like D Smith is trying to cover his own ass for the bad advice his players association gave to Lamar. Get an agent Lamar.

  60. For how long? I’m sure plenty of organizations will offer a short term guaranteed deal for some players…It’s the four or five year deal that is very problematic.The only league with a HARD salary cap is the NFL.. The only professional league without, long term guaranteed contracts is the NFL. Call it collusion.

  61. The message is clear from the league,” Smith writes “WE will control you.”


    By paying our best players $50M per year and having a minimum salary for fringe players that places them in the top 1%. By that logic, corporate executives are all being “controlled” too. It’s such a ludicrous statement to act like the NFLPA represents steel workers. They represent millionaires.

  62. and were to listen to a supposed liar who said he didnt tell the teams (bills and cincy) to be ready to play in 5 minutes. Another guy I dont trusts. But then he is a union hack job.

    Ya owners aren’t supposed to want to make money and not learn by their mistakes and correct not giving away the farm the way baseball owners do over and over again.
    They never learn – ten year contracts, what a joke.
    Bravo to the owners who understand the money game. Hey the players can always quit if they dont like the money

  63. Guaranteed contracts are being avoided by collusive means. As a player, when you witness a SB in terrible field conditions posing risk to injury, why wouldn’t you advocate to secure any financial compensation you may get? Lamar’s using his past performance to gain leverage but fans/owners would rather not change out of fear.

  64. If he is not happy, go on strike. Just because 1 owner was dumb enough (and very desperate) to guarantee a full contract does not mean the rest needs to follow.
    Smith and the players agreed to the contract so deal with it. Don’t cry wolf now and in a few years agree to a new CBA.

  65. Stupid we arent. We would all like to be sure even if we cant play due to injuries or start to stink the place up that the owners get stuck paying out the kazoo not matter what. Who the heck wouldnt like a contract like that.
    Thus, even if they cut me I still get the money na na na na na

  66. Lamar hasn’t finished either of the last two seasons- quitting on his team last year. He hasn’t thrown more than 17 TD’s since 2020. He was 27th in passing yards last season, 25th in 2021. He’s 1-3 in playoff games and has had one really good season. He isn’t worth a guaranteed contract as an average QB. Enough of this crap about collusion…come back when you’re talking about an above average to great QB.

  67. Of all the pro sports union leaders, has there been a more ineffective one than DeMaurice Smith? He spends all his time whining, but what has he done to give the players a stronger voice in negotiations?

  68. A 10 year plus veteran of the Bills said on the radio guaranteed contracts would be nice but thay players would not give the required effort in the last years of their contract. I believe him.

  69. And Lamar is not “MVP” anymore, that was 4 years ago. Right now he is a player that has gotten hurt the last 2 years and could not finish the season. Missed playoff games. Refused to show up for his teammates. Yeah, lets give up 2 1st round picks and a quarter billion for that.

  70. Then put you guaranteed money where your mouth is and play in the XFL for less $ hat I’m sure the XFL will be glad to pay. Say, 200k per year guaranteed? Yah, right.

  71. Sounds like the owners are being smart about this? Sorry ….the owners are not being smart they are clearly acting illegally and it’s not the first time.
    Remember when the league fined both the Commanders and Cowboys for “ overspending on player contracts in an UNCAPPED YEAR”
    ( Forbes magazine). The owners agreed, in secret, to limit spending in 2010 even though there was no cap …was a veiled attempt at union busting. ( Dan Graziano )
    This is the NFL and Goodell’s biggest goal, to marginalize the union and to keep players, who risk injuries and in many cases long term sometimes fatal, physical & mental problems from getting guaranteed contracts. The first guaranteed contract in MLB was in 1974, the NBA’s first was in 1983. Here we are almost 50 years later and the NFL essentially has no guaranteed contracts.
    The reason is a weak NFLPA and collusion. In 2010 the owners with Goodell acting like the bad cop, gave up its best chance to catch the owners colluding by signing a waiver at the end of negotiations. The union gave back way too much of what it negotiated and received as a result of the 2006 NFL/ Union CBA. The union continues to take steps backwards. This might be its final chance to blow the whistle on the NFL. The brazen fines of the Commanders and the Cowboys are Ex.1 1. It’s time players received protection from career altering injuries which occur while the players are giving their all for the Shield.

  72. Doesn’t he realize that people do have any sympathy for millionaires even if you play the card that it is only billionaires money. Stop with the victim card.

  73. Maybe just maybe its Jacksons market value thats been wildly overestimated by the media rather than some vast conspiracy

  74. I have to ask, why does the NFLPA (and DeMaurice Smith) ONLY seem to open their mouths to cry collusion when a black player is involved? It’s a real bad look for them.

  75. In the end the fan loses. Mounting price increases on tickets and concessions has priced my family out of the ability to attend games anymore. Better be a damn good hot dog for $20.00……..Ha

  76. The additional costs of guaranteed contracts will get passed right off to the fans of the sport. It already costs an arm and a leg to attend an NFL game. Sunday Ticket continues to so up in cost. When does it stop?? Dee Smith needs to just shut his rich mouth and move along.

  77. Packers gave Rodgers a guaranteed contract and look at the trouble that has caused.

  78. It’s crazy to see so many comments against players getting fully guaranteed contracts…

    I think two things need to happen for guaranteed contracts to work in the NFL. The first is the salary cap and the structure to make it more flexible to absorb the mega contracts and build a team. The second is that fully guaranteed money shouldn’t have to go into escrow for the duration of the non disbursement.

    My last point is that ultimately it’s unfeasible. Once the qb position is locked into full guarantees other positions will become the next fight for fully guaranteed contracts. I’m assuming the priority would match the franchise tag list. Left tackle, defensive end, receiver etc….

    All in all, I’d rather the NFLPA fight harder for benefits for former players.

    Insurance for vested vets should be lifetime…

    The concussion settlement, disability settlements etc. are much too hard to come by. To the point of that truly being CRIMINAL.

  79. Roger Goodell is a lousy commissioner. I think we all agree on that. But De-Smith is a much much worse Union boss. De reminds me of that loudmouth Union organizer in the Silicon Valley who tried to get all of us PCB assemblers unionized back when I was in high school a hundred years ago. His real motivation was to flat out kill the industry, he just didn’t like its incredible progress. Prosperity. Obviously no unions ever came. A couple decades later I heard about him, he died in Lompoc, and it sure wasn’t in his house or a rest home. I’m certainly not pro management, but I do know this isn’t a coal mining town in 1925 where a union is needed. Unions benefit very few, and none of the rank and file.

  80. The same people who say it is collusion also will tell you that the Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Russell Wilson contracts are all horrible.

  81. Smith is picking a losing battle to fight.

    Lamar Jackson has to replicate or even come close to his 2019 season. That right there is problem number 1.

    The Vikings (and I’m a Vikings fan) certainly regretted Kirk’s contract. It cost Spielman his job, though it certainly far more defensible than Watson given that MN was legitimately thought of being a QB away from an SB at the time (too bad Rick didn’t understand just how much Keenum made that bad OL look so much better)… and I can guarantee you that people will get fired over what happened with Watson, quite possibly as soon as this season, but most likely next when it’s clear how stupid that decision was.

    Last, Jackson has been hurt each of the last 2 seasons. As others have said, when a QB runs a lot, they get hit a lot. Their protection ends when they leave the pocket and their risk of injury increases. The owners may be billionaires, and many have been born with the proverbial silver spoon, but their teams do employ people who understand the concept of risk management, and for the most part (Cleveland excluded apparently) they understand how to use it.

  82. Nobody wants to hear you wine about whether players are guaranteed 200m or 300m. You live in a world of your own along with the crybaby players. What they should be going for is the best healthcare possible. They are all going to need it one day.

  83. I’m confused. According to Lamar, he was offered a fully guaranteed contract and he turned it down. So obviously that is not the issue and he wants more.

  84. Most fans don’t care because guaranteed contracts are good for the player but not the team and while we root and love certain players we’re fans of a team and the players change. Would I want Lamar as my qb? Absolutely but not on a fully guaranteed contract that’s more than a few years. That was the entire conversation around Russ after this year – the broncos are locked in and what if he’s washed?

  85. The players make the physical sacrifice that keeps the game around, so they should have more guaranteed dollars. They can’t guarantee they won’t live up to any contract either (whether it’s injury reasons or any other reason). So a fully guaranteed contract is really just a platform for a guy like D.Smith to try and sound like something he’s not: A good union leader.

  86. The road to fully guaranteed contracts was paved by a man who engaged in dozens of acts of criminal sexual conduct. Go figure that nobody is walking that path.

  87. Fully guaranteed contracts would be great for the players. In reality five year deals will become three year deals. I would love to see guaranteed deals that benefit both sides. Money evenly split between the number of years, no void years or other gimmicks, no holdouts for another deal. Teams couldn’t sign a guy for five years then cut him after two. Players couldn’t sign a five year deal then refuse to play without more a couple years in. Both sides assume risk and reward. It would be harder for a bad GM to push money into years when the player is long gone. Maybe they are colluding on Lamar or maybe nobody thinks he’s worth 40 plus million a year guaranteed.

  88. Burrow will get a very nice fully-guaranteed contract. Probably not as much as Watson’s but he will set the non-Browns market for a traditional franchise quarterback who already has playoff success. Jackson has flopped in the playoffs, been injured for big chunks of the last two seasons, and has to have a specific custom-designed offense to be successful. He should and will get paid, but a huge guarantee is foolish and everyone who is being honest admits that.

  89. How bout guaranteed contracts for guaranteed success. I think the street works both ways.

  90. There are TWO aspects to the contract: length and guarantees.

    Watson and Cousins have history as durable players. They dont miss games.

    If a fully guaranteed contract is required, then three years is all they should ask. No team wants to assume the risk of paying high dollar (max skill value) for a player who does not play or who provides less skill. This structure places all risk upon the team. What risk does the palyer or NFLPA take on?

    If the NFLPA wants trams to accept risk without potential reduction, then it should offer insurance that the team does not pay for services not provided or services to a lower standard of excellence.

  91. Maybe what the players really need is a more affective union leader. D. Smith is the owner’s favorite. He’s very weak. You don’t take money away from billionaires by constantly disrespecting them. That has never worked and will never work. As long as D. Smith is the opposition leader, the public, who generally sides with the players, is going to side with the owners. The players, or someone who’s looking out for the best interest of the players, needs to educate the players about electing affective leadership. Lots of people are under the assumption that if you oppose D. Smith, you’re against the players. The opposite is actually true.

  92. It takes an owner with kahunas to give the contract. Cleveland is lucky to have Jimmy Haslam. It won’t be long before the Browns win the Super Bowl and Haslam will be vindicated for having done the right thing—-paying a player his market value Deshaun Watson.

  93. I like how he brings up Kirks guarantees which pale in comparison to Watson’s. Let’s be honest Lamar’s best skill is running. He has one season over 3000yds passing and yet he has two 1000yd rushing seasons. Carries take their toll in this league. If Lamar shreds his knee do you honestly think he’ll be the same QB?

  94. LOL … LOL … not unexpected in this day and age. Many now want everything guaranteed, participation ribbons for all and everybody should be the same. The only thing in life that’s guaranteed is death and taxes – period. Nobody should be getting guaranteed money until the “work” has been done and is deemed satisfactory.

  95. All contracts have a set guarantee to a specific negotiated price. Most contracts are inflated to give false ego. You sign a 4 year contract for 500 million with 10 million guaranteed, that is on you.

  96. Maybe a guaranty of say $15 or $20 Million, then incentives for playing time TD passes Rush yards passing yards etc., and deductions for interceptions and injury with if all thresholds are met he can earn $50 Million. I am not sure how it would work but in theory setting goals to achieve a guaranty dollar amount.

  97. Guaranteed contract tracts in the nfl would be a joke. Look at recent history of players. Imagine giving Micheal Thompson a fully guaranteed contract after 1 big season, look what he has done since. There would have to be a lot of outs in that fully guaranteed contract, let’s say Alvin Kamara had a fully guaranteed contract right now… would the full guarantee be voided for criminal charges or pro rated for suspensions?? Too many issues in the nfl for fully guaranteed contracts. You can’t compare baseball to football or even hockey.

  98. The same people who can’t see there is clearly collusion going on here are the same ones who said, “I didn’t know there were two black QBs in the Super Bowl until you mentioned it. You guys crack me up on the regular. And if they didn’t collude against Kaep, then why settle?

  99. It’s not even the big names that throw a wrench in the guaranteed contract idea. Nearly half of the players signed in May will be out of work in September. So, we’re to expect teams to pay guys to stay home?

  100. This ain’t the nba. There are 53 players in a roster. You dedicate a quarter of it guaranteed to one player and something catastrophic happens to them your team is on the hook for that money for years. There is 0 reason for a franchise qb to demand guaranteed money as their career is significantly longer than those of most other positions. Lamar has proven the past two seasons why the ravens cannot take that risk of fully guaranteed money with him as he’s missed 40 percent of his games the past two years. The rest of the league feels the same way. It’s not collusion it’s just good business sense. Lamar should’ve cashed in after year three, he’s gotten nothing but dismal advice from the nflpa over his contract and has severely overplayed his hand.

  101. De Smith is right. Owners are breaking labor law and their CBA by colluding in this way. They should remember that much of the league’s success to date stems from at least the appearance of parity and a good bargaining relationship. Players take on enormous risk for no guarantees. If the owners dig in on this, it won’t end well for anyone..

  102. Does that mean he’s complaining about the contracts Garoppolo and Carr have received?

    Garoppolo has been to the Super Bowl and has a 4-2 record in the playoffs, so surely he’s deserving, right?

    I think we know why he’s so focused on Jackson.

  103. “The NFL Draft and the franchise tag system exist because owners have colIuded in the past to both depress and restrict markets,


    Wow. Actually, the NFL draft and franchise tag system exist because they have been collectively bargained between the league and the NFLPA. The leader of the NFLPA is De Smith. If he’s got a problem with the draft and franchise tag system, perhaps he should take a look in the mirror.

  104. Who’s this guy saying this stuff for? It’s not going to work on the owners and it’s definitely not going to work on the public, virtually none of whom have a guarantee beyond about the next 2 weeks.

    He never mentions that he’s responsible for the current CBA. He’s the one who negotiated it, recommended it to the players and put it to a vote. If he’s so concerned with guaranteed money, he should have held out for that or resigned and turned over the negotiations to someone more capable than him.

  105. Next negotiating session: Union–We demand fully guaranteed contracts. Management–OK. You have it provided no contract can be longer than 3 years; no contract can be for more than 10% of the total cap; and no bonuses of any kind! All monies will be paid during the season, period.

  106. If the players think they’re being treated unfairly, then they can always QUIT. Go get a job in your college major field of study. And welcome to the real world.

  107. Contracts are guaranteed in the other professional sports but NFL owners have all the NFL fans trained like a bunch of sheep to criticize NFL players that try to get the same rights. I just don’t get it.

  108. Of course it’s collusion. Most Fans believe whatever the NFL tells them and will ignore all logic, facts, and precedent.

  109. dadindebt6 says:
    March 18, 2023 at 2:06 pm
    Next negotiating session: Union–We demand fully guaranteed contracts. Management–OK. You have it provided no contract can be longer than 3 years; no contract can be for more than 10% of the total cap; and no bonuses of any kind! All monies will be paid during the season, period


    And some other league would pop up and create competition for the NFL if the did that. I agree with shorter contracts would be good for everyone but look at the NBA. Owners demanded shorter contracts and it backfired on them.

  110. I see what owners up to but is it “criminal”? Or just business as usual.

  111. Guaranteed Contracts. Sounds like guaranteed money. What does the player guarantee?

  112. Is the lack of interest in giving Lamar Jackson a fully guaranteed contract really due to collusion or is due to independent objective assessments by knowledgeable football people that an oft-injured running QB that defenses have largely figured out and who is 1-3 in the playoffs is not worth the draft capital of the two number one draft choices that would be given to Baltimore if they successfully poached him from them?

  113. The size of the total pie is set by the cap. If you pay an injured guy $50M a year who isn’t playing that’s necessarily $50M that’s not going to someone else. Nflpa shouldn’t really have a horse in this race.

  114. “depress and restrict markets”. Idk about that. QB contracts are outrageous as it is, crippling teams and other players salaries.

  115. Doubling down on the horrific advice and finger pointing to misdirect.
    It’s only worth what someone will pay. That’s becoming evidentiary clear with no suitors lining up to bid. You call it collusion and I call it mass sanity.

  116. The least interesting guy in football working for a union that caters to the lowest common denominator while preventing the cream from fully rising to the top of their market value.

  117. You’all go on and enjoy your bromance with the Fat Cats; you have your reward.

    I side with the People; you’all will find me down at the Union Hall.

    Here’s to Lamar Jackson, and here’s to a future of guaranteed contracts; we will win in the end-

  118. Let’s all be thankful Watson got one, because if he didn’t this ALL would be about “race” right now.

  119. A) the draft exists to balance competition. Players would choose to go to the best team or the highest paying team, if not for the draft.
    B) it’s unreasonable to assume that Jackson is in his prime. He plays the QB position like a HB (similar to Cam Newton). Problem is, Cam was way bigger and Lamar is skinny. Cam dropped off a cliff at 30. Lamar already can’t stay healthy and he’ll be worse than Newton when loses 1% of speed.
    C) couldn’t it just be that all teams independently decided to bypass Lamar. It makes sense considering you have to run a college offense, give the injury plagued guy guaranteed money, and he hasn’t won playoff games.
    D) arguably, Lamar is a locker room problem. Long term, many teammates won’t play in an offense in which the main focus is running the QB. Hollywood left because of it. It’s like playing basketball with a ball hog. Furthermore, Lamar has publicly tried to embarrass the Ravens. He publicly pretended to be upset about Hollywood leaving when he knew before hand. He has aired out his grievances with the Ravens publicly. On top of all that, he refuses to hire an agent. No team should trust him.

    There’s reasons teams haven’t signed him. The entire discussion is moot, because he won’t hire an agent—hammering out these issues is their job!

    If NFL players want guaranteed contracts… are they willing to trade it for lower salary numbers? Make guaranteed contracts the norm, then watch as the salaries slowly increase…. unless the players demand on having their cake and eating it too.

  120. Guaranteed contracts will only be for QBs and maybe a few LTs.
    Money spent on player X is less money to spend on players Y and Z.
    Its a zero sum game.
    Some will benefit, some will be hurt

  121. Unions only protect the lazy workers who want to continue slacking. They charge their members big bucks and pay their leaders extravagant salaries. The players have been getting more and more money each year, now they want all contracts to be guaranteed? Ok then, lets LOWER the cap and no contracts can be more than 2 yrs.

  122. It would almost be criminal to cost a former UNREPRESENTED player millions by advising him to get in the middle of this fight. I would almost think a cap percentage would be a better cliff to stand on vs fully guaranteed.

  123. I would be pissed if I was an NFL player. Lamar has co-opted the NFLPA to behave as his agent. Other players making less money have to pay agents. On top of that, the NFLPA is arguing to make guaranteed contracts for QBs that are more than 1/4 of team’s salary cap. Classism… and DeMaurice is on board.

    This is all very on-brand with the way Lamar plays football—me, me, me.

  124. Dear commenters arguing that cap costs are fixed and that a guaranteed contracts will harm other layers without guarantees: READ THE CBA! Major difference between cash and cap and cap charges shift from year to year. And btw anyone who doesn’t realize D Smith is posturing for leverage in CBA negotiations doesn’t know anything about anything.

  125. It would be silly for the teams who said ‘not interested’ to say they were/are interested, it would only drive the price up if they advertised they want Lamar. Also, at the time reporters were dialing for stories, the new league year didn’t start yet. Much ado about nothing in my opinion…

  126. ALL pro sports contracts should have minimums based on years in the league, then all other money should be based on performance numbers. that’s fair.

    can smith GUARANTEE player output for the guaranteed money being paid to them?

  127. The Browns needed a QB bad and did what they had to do it. Damn the torpedos. An injury prone QB who can’t hit the broad side of a barn isn’t worth the money, never mind two #1s.

  128. Probably 98% of jobs out in the normal world doesn’t have guaranteed contracts

  129. Long term guaranteed contracts only make sense if the player can guarantee they won’t get injured to the extent they won’t be able to play for the entire term.

  130. Blows my mind that people are dying on this hill for Lamar Jackson. If this were pat mahomes or even joe burrow or maybe Josh Allen, fine. But Jackson has a bad post season record and a terrible recent injury history and a style of play that’s not gonna adapt well with age.

  131. The NFL has a salary cap. Money overpaid on players is not available to pay more deserving players.

    How does it help the league for QBs to get 5 year fully guaranteed deals? They can destroy the product being put on the field. Carson Wentz just finished the 2nd year of his extension. Can you imagine a sorry franchise stuck paying him for three more years?

    The NFLPA is a disservice to players. If he wants to help players he should negotiate the end of the franchise tag for running backs. Negotiate the end of the salary cap. But pushing contracts that benefit some players to the detriment of the rest of the league is a move that hurts the player’s association and the league in general.

  132. What “gaming” is going on by the owners doing something they’re perfectly able to do, and have historically done outside of two random outliers?

    His own team that knows him best doesn’t want to give Jackson a fully guaranteed deal, so why are people stunned other teams don’t want to AND give up two 1st round picks on top of that?

  133. You mean to tell me that an employer can set the wage scale within their business and if a business is run by a group or board that they can have a meetings where they discuss how much or how little the company will pay their employees to do their jobs? This is a travesty!!! We must fight the injustice!!! Inclusion!!! D. Smith is a tool of the NFL who screwed the players over on the last contract because he decides that this is an issue now? Where the heck were you D. Smith and what were you doing on the last NFLPA contract? You probably shouldn’t of caved so fast and pushed the garbage contract through because the NFL had to have that TV contract money right now. This isn’t collusion, this is D. Smith making noise and making it appear like he is doing his job and working for the players, but the reality is he’s just a NFL league plant cosplaying as a high level player rep.

  134. Maybe Florio should look at all of this as a football owner or gm and not as a lawyer. Owner and gm is going to do whats best for the team not what you or I think should be done. maybe you should stay with your political side and just keep writing posts about Snider and Colin.

  135. Actually nobody but Smith and media shills care what Smith thinks. I’m kind of wondering if the majority of players do anymore either.

  136. If true that Smith swayed Jackson not to sign Baltimore’s offer, Jackson should sue Smith and the NFLPA.

  137. Cousins’ deal (fully guaranteed) was 3 years, right? I am sure that Lamar’s $132mil or $166 mil guaranteed offered by Baltimore (have seen both numbers bandied about) was for 3 or maybe 4 years (not paying him either of those amounts for 2 years). So any real difference? Obviously, if you want a fully guaranteed contract, contracts will be for much shorter periods. That is only common sense and good business practice. Have all guaranteed contracts and watch everyone be a free agent every year (or two)? Fine, once supply of free agents goes up, prices go down. There is a reason that the baseball union (almost 50 years ago now) limited free agency, it limits supply and pushes up prices for individual players who are free agents. You have a bad year, your salary goes down the next year. Simple. You want longer guarantees, then team will pay you less to hedge risk (of you getting injured or just washing out) so they have money to sign other players when you can’t suit up (LJ comes to mind).

  138. The problem with a guaranteed contract is that if a player has a couple down years, the team still has to pay him. However, if a player has a good year or two, they’ll want to renegotiate the contract.

  139. If the owner has to guarantee the contract,…well then how about the athlete has to guarantee the performance. And if they can’t back it up they forfeit a portion of their pay. I know it will never happen.

  140. As I said before Lamar Jackson actually does have an agent, DeMaurice Smith, and he is super double-plus awful at his job.

  141. Didn’t LJ turn down a fully guaranteed contract between $140-160M? He doesn’t deserve the Watson contract. Watson didn’t deserve it either. That was just the Browns being the Browns.

  142. NFLPA is using Lamar as a pawn because they screwed up the last contract.
    Why didn’t they push Wilson for fully guaranteed? Will they be pushing Burrow for a fully guaranteed deal? He’d be signed to a monster deal right now if the NFLPA wasn’t giving Lamar bad advice.

  143. I don’t CARE about players contracts or how much money owners make…..just want to turn on the TV and watch football .

  144. I will guarantee each NFL player the first dollar. Now you have to earn the rest.

  145. Collusion – not hardly. Giving up two first round draft picks for Lamar is not going to happen – the draft picks are way too valuable these days. Plus, his QB skills (passing, reading defenses, etc.), reluctance to play in contract years, and the whole “my mother is my agent” deal are the reasons he hasn’t received any interest – everyone can stop the trolling about owner collusion – its a waste of time.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.