One constant through the NFL collective bargaining throw-down has been the debate about how much of the total revenues should go to the players versus the owners. Some say it should be 48% to the players, some 49%, others 46%. It is all pretty mind-numbing when you realize they are talking about dividing up $9B. An interesting sub-thread emerged this past week as the two sides got closer to nailing down the specifics of the new CBA. Instead of agreeing on terms last week as some had hoped, there was a snag related to how players wanted to divvy up the money amongst themselves.
Owners had been asking for the right to match any offer to three free agents on their teams each year. As a fan, that sounded terrific. It rewards teams for developing their own talent, and makes the game less about stealing other teams talent. Demaurice Smith and the players balked at this, saying, "That would not be fair to the top guys in the league." I scratched my head when first reading that, wondering why it would not be fair, and why only to the top guys. The answer came soon after.
Teams are going to be far less willing to offer up top dollar to players if they know the current team can match. It is almost like adding a couple more Franchise tags to each team. The average free agent deal will probably suffer, especially at the top-end, without open competition for their services. But that's not the whole picture. Part of this CBA includes a team salary floor as well as a cap. That means teams can't get away with simply not spending. They will be required to spend at least 93% (or whatever final number they arrive at) of the salary cap. When you combine the salary floor with proposed rule about team's right to match offers on three players each season, you end up with salary re-distribution. When did this turn into a Republican/Democrat debate??
Assume the Seahawks had this right to match the salaries of three free agents this off-season. A player like Brandon Mebane would likely get a lower offer on the market, while it is unlikely to effect a player like Will Herring. If the top guys are getting less in free agency, but teams are required to spend their money on player salaries somewhere, it means more mid and low tier guys are seeing their pay rise faster than the stars. This is where player leader Smith's comment, "It's not fair to top guys," comes from. What a load of shit.
You are telling me we are delaying a CBA because it is critical that players 1-10 on a roster get that much more money than players 40-53? Do players 40-53 get hit any less hard or have any longer average career than star players? This is not to say everyone should be equal, but take a look at how the Seahawks salaries from 2010 broke down:
Top 10 Players Total Salary: $38,672,140 (61% of total team salary)
Bottom 10 Players Total Salary: $3,859,437 (6% of total team salary)
Part of that bottom 10 included guys like David Hawthorne, Red Bryant and Justin Forsett while the top 10 included guys like Stacy Andrews, LeRoy Hill, Kentwan Balmer and Chris Baker. It does not matter which political ideology someone subscribes to, that distribution is just wrong.
I love football. I love the NFL. My heart goes out to these guys whose lives are proven to be shorter and sometimes excruciatingly painful after their career ends. Giving the bottom half of the league a raise sounds far more important than making sure the top players are getting the max deal the market will bear. Don't forget, star players get the vast majority of endorsement deals and other incentives, so they are not exactly suffering. DeMaurice Smith should remember he is repping all the players, not just the household names. Get this deal done, and quit the BS.