With media members starting to get a hold of an apparent plan that has been set in motion, through the legal actions to prevent a lockout and with support of agents and star players alike, I thought we’d take a look at some of the ramifications of the lockout if a deal is forced instead of negotiated.
The primary thing I’d like to talk about today, is the concept that several lawyers, including Kessler for the former NFLPA, are actively promoting the idea that the NFLPA should not re-certify upon the agreement between the two parties. Their arguments are simple:
1. The concepts of a salary cap prohibit players from making the most money possible and are thus not beneficial for individual players who are relinquishing big money to group money. Players, in a salary cap free world, would be free to press the issue of salaries as they have in baseball. This means that the teams with the most money can go after the big name free agents.
2. A draft is not in the best interest of players going to the NFL. There are two reasons for this. Players can better leverage between teams and find the best possible deal when they’ve got two teams competing against each other for his services. Players can also find the team that best suits their skills. Teams that run a power running game would find it easier to recruit top running backs whereas pass happy teams could better find wide receivers.
3. There could also be no restrictions to free agency. Players would be free agents upon the conclusion or termination of their contracts. This means teams would not get compensation for lost players, there would be no restricted free agents, and the franchise and transition tags would be eliminated. The reasons this would be beneficial coincide with the removal of salary caps.
For agents, this is the dream scenario. Agents take a percentage cut out of every contract they negotiate for players (which is why agents like Drew Rosenhaus are frequently signed when a player wants a new deal and who frequently pushes players for a new deal. He gets it done).
For players, this sounds like a dream scenario, but the reality is already visible.
Now its true that all major league players receive a solid salary whether they’re stars or not, but I believe that what would occur in the NFL would be comparable to the entire baseball system, minor league and all. This means the scrubs would be getting paid little to no money to act as fresh bodies in a brutal contact game while the big stars would be rolling in the multi-million dollar deals. The salary cap ensures that teams will spend a minimum amount and the CBA ensured that there was a minimum salary that at least some what adequately expressed how dangerous a career these men have undertaken.
Clearly, the incentives for the majority of players is to keep the current CBA format is to ensure their decent salaries, but the top players should feel that they have an incentive to maintain it as well.
What the NFL has done in the last 20 years or so is to become the most popular sport in America. It has surpassed America’s Pastime and now dominates it in the ratings. It has created a schedule that is conducive to competition and ensures that no fan base can become absolutely demoralized. Several agents have made the case that parody in the NFL is actually a myth. One stat that was reported on Pro Football Talk through agent Brian Ayrault states “that, in the last decade, nine different MLB franchises have won the World Series, while only seven different NFL franchise have won the Super Bowl.” Pro Football talk counters this argument, and is worth a read. The point they come to, is that while there may only be a few franchises winning the Super Bowl, almost all the franchises in the NFL have been in the playoffs in the last 10 years. This means that fan bases don’t suffer like the fans of the Orioles (haven’t had a winning season since 1997), Pirates (19 straight losing seasons), Royals (13 seasons of losing with one season of 83-79 baseball). These franchises have become horribly disenchanted with their teams and sometimes even the sport (being a fan of one of them, believe me this is true). The NFL’s best asset is that it continues to grow, both at home and abroad. 9 billion dollars is still not the maximum profit this sport can achieve, and with an adequate agreement between the two sides, it can continue to grow.