http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/ ... story.html
Things I didn't know:
1. Salary cap space can roll over from year to year!
2. In 2014, the NFL will get an additional $1.2 billion in TV revenue, yet the salary cap will not increase
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and then-Colts center Jeff Saturday created the defining moment of the 2011 offseason when they embraced in a bear hug at a news conference announcing the end of the NFL lockout and the agreement of a 10-year collective bargaining agreement.
Almost exactly two years have passed, and now that the realities of the CBA have set in, Saturday might want to take that hug back.
No matter how you slice it, the owners obliterated the NFL Players Association and new executive director DeMaurice Smith in the 2011 negotiations.
The biggest proof came last week when the publicly controlled Green Bay Packers released their annual financial statements. The Packers reported a team-record operating profit of $54.3 million for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2013, a 26 percent increase from the year before, according to the Sports Business Journal.
Graphic: When training camps open
Even more eye-popping, the Packers’ net income in the two years before the CBA: $22.3 million. In the two seasons since: $85.8 million.
If the Packers are making money hand over fist, so are the 31 other teams.
The players? The rookie pool has been slashed, young players are locked into unfavorable contracts, and the money isn’t trickling to the veterans, who are getting priced out of the NFL, even at minimum salaries. The NFLPA declined to respond to a request for comment.
“The NFLPA absolutely failed the NFL players,” said one prominent agent with two decades in the league, who spoke under the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by the NFLPA. “It’s the worst CBA in professional sports history. It’s pushing the veterans out of the game and cuts the rookie pay in half. How is that a good deal?”
To be fair, the players have better post-retirement benefits — medical care, pensions, transition programs, and more — under the new CBA. The creation of the $620 million Legacy Fund for pre-1993 players helped correct some mistakes of the past. Players also have a better quality of life, with a shorter offseason program, stricter guidelines on contact in practice, and the elimination of two-a-days in training camp.
Then again, the owners probably were happy to cave on those demands. It helps them promote player safety and ward off lawsuits. And do you think Kraft or any owner cares if his players have two-a-days?
But when it comes to the serious stuff — splitting up the NFL’s $9 billion in revenue — the NFLPA “got taken to the woodshed,” said another agent with 18 years of experience.
“Yeah, players got better post-retirement stuff, but I’d rather have an extra million in my bank account today than a few extra grand in my pension in 40 years,” he said. “The owners used the bad economy to cry poor, and then they took everything.”
How badly did the owners beat down the NFLPA? Let us count the ways:
1. The rookies got a raw deal.
The owners said the system needed to be fixed when a bust such as JaMarcus Russell could make $37 million guaranteed and Sam Bradford, the last No. 1 overall pick under the old CBA, could get $50 million guaranteed before playing a snap.
Rookie contracts got slashed in the new CBA, with Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, getting just $22 million guaranteed. What’s more, rookie signing bonuses have remained flat for the last three seasons. Kansas City’s Eric Fisher, the 2013 No. 1 overall pick, will get the same $14.518 million signing bonus that Newton and Andrew Luck (2012) did.
And only the top picks are receiving top dollar. Jacksonville cornerback Johnathan Cyprien, the first pick of the second round, will have a modest salary cap number of $994,382 this year. Players taken in rounds 3-7 are all in the $400,000-$500,000 range, with the league minimum at $405,000.
But perhaps the worst deal for the rookies: All drafted players are locked into their contracts for at least three years. The CBA prevents any drafted player from renegotiating his contract until after his third season. Most rookies do get increases in base salary over each of their four seasons, however, and they’re also subject to player performance bonuses if they reach playing time markers.
Russell Wilson, who had a phenomenal rookie season after being drafted in the third round by the Seahawks, has no choice but to play the 2013 season at his base salary of $526,217. Even if they wanted to, the Seahawks can’t extend his contract until after the 2014 season.
This rule is brutal on running backs, who are by far the biggest injury risk and often don’t even make it to Year 4. Even if they do, a team has much more incentive to draft another pair of young, cheap legs instead of committing major dollars to a veteran back. A running back is almost better off sitting on the bench for two years instead of wasting his hits at minimum salary.
2. Veterans get squeezed.
The money saved on the rookies was supposed to trickle down to the veterans, but instead it appears it’s simply going straight into the owners’ pockets.
While quarterback pay continues to skyrocket, and a couple of veterans were able to cash in during free agency — Miami’s Mike Wallace, Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, Cleveland’s Paul Kruger — the incredible value of rookie contracts is now squeezing out many veterans.
Why would a team pay big money to a free agent when it can simply draft a cheaper, healthier alternative and have him locked in to a near-minimum salary for at least three seasons?
Some free agents, such as Miami’s Dustin Keller, Seattle’s Michael Bennett, Denver’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and New England’s Aqib Talib, took modest one-year deals after receiving low-ball offers on multiyear deals. Cliff Avril, who played for $10.6 million last year as the Lions’ franchise player and is just 27, was only able to score a two-year deal with $6 million guaranteed from the Seahawks.
And while the CBA promises minimum salaries for veterans — $715,000 this year for players with 4-6 years of experience, $840,000 for 7-9, and $940,000 for 10-plus — many times it works against them.
“I’ve had teams tell me all the time, ‘Your guy is a minimum-salary guy, he’s too expensive,’ ” the first agent said. “I have veteran players that would play for $50,000 if they could.”
3. Owners hold all the cards.
The salary cap in 2009 was $123 million, decreased to $120 million for 2011, and will remain relatively flat for the foreseeable future. The cap rose to $123 million this year, but only after the NFLPA allowed the owners to defer payments on performance-based pay for 2013, which totaled $110.7 million in 2012 and was split among dozens of players.
Player-performance money that is earned in 2013 and should be paid out in March 2014 will instead be held in an account and paid out in March 2016, with the owners keeping two years’ worth of interest.
The salary cap isn’t even supposed to increase in 2014 when the NFL will receive an influx of new television money — $3.1 billion annually from broadcast revenue, up from $1.9 billion.
The CBA only requires teams to spend in cash 89 percent of the salary cap number, and teams can roll over any unused cap space from year to year. Often, teams would rather keep the cap money for rollover purposes than use it on a veteran who may or may not pan out.
And worst of all, players are stuck with this deal through the 2021 draft.
Many agents, naturally, are incensed about the deal and are pining for the days of Gene Upshaw.
“There was never any transparency from the union to the players,” another agent said. “It was basically, ‘We’ve agreed to terms on the deal, we expect everyone to ratify it, and let’s pop champagne bottles.’
“De Smith was a slick trial lawyer who came in and sold the players on a fancy PowerPoint presentation. Ninety-eight percent of the players have no understanding how bad this deal is.”
*Fun GUs note* the issue at hand has been debated ( looking at you, Scout
) and I think the outcome ( at least since the new millenium) has been predictable. The sad fact is, the salary cap was supposed to 'level the playing field', when in reality
, all it has done is enrich the owners
at the expense of the 'average' player
. Look no further for 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'.