DeMaurice Smith

Extra Points: NFLPA, Rodgers, Jets, Tannehill, Dolphins, Patriots, Gillislee

NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith traveled to Houston to meet with the Texans about a potential upcoming labor battle according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Wilson writes that Smith’s message to the team was “that it’s time to get prepared with a labor battle looming on the horizon.” The current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021, and a “potential work stoppage is a strong potential scenario” Wilson writes.

Many players have voiced their displeasure with the CBA in recent years, and it sounds like another lockout is a strong possibility. Some players have even referred to a lockout as an inevitability due to how far apart players and owners are on several key issues. The league infamously had a lockout in 2011, and it’s now widely agreed that the owners won those negotiations. The players will likely drive much harder bargains this time around, and demand greater guarantees in contracts. It will be a fascinating situation to watch develop as we get closer and closer to the expiration of the CBA.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It was reported earlier this week that Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers was dealing with a “serious” health injury, and now Mike Garafolo of NFL Network has new details (Twitter link). Garafolo writes that it “sounds like it could be an extended absence as he focuses on his health.” Rodgers missed the Jets’ win over the Broncos today, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be back anytime soon.
  • Ryan Tannehill has had a rough couple of weeks, and his performance today was so bad that it prompted reporters to ask Dolphins coach Adam Gase after the game if Tannehill would be benched moving forward. Gase responded that Tannehill wouldn’t be benched yet according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), but it’s still surprising that it’s reached that point. The Dolphins have only Brock Osweiler and David Fales behind him on the depth chart.
  • It was reported earlier that the Patriots were planning on doing something to address the fact that they had just two running backs on the roster, and now we might have an idea what. New England has “been in contact” with ex-Patriot Mike Gillislee a source told Doug Kyed of NESN (Twitter link). Gillislee was recently cut by the Saints, and it sounds like we could see a reunion soon.

 

NFLPA Doesn’t See Work Stoppage Being Avoided

The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season, and following its 10-year run, there looks to be a fight between the league and the NFLPA.

This has been rumored for many months, and executive director DeMaurice Smith still cannot see any way around a work stoppage being required prior to the 2021 campaign.

No. We prepare for war,” Smith said (via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com) when asked if any hopes for a smooth CBA agreement exist. “So if we’re able to get a collective bargaining agreement done, that’s great. But all of these men went through a unilateral declared war on players in 2010 and 2011. I think it’s important for [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] and I to have a wonderful open discussion, but he represents the owners, and we represent the players.”

Smith does not see any circumstances under which he would agree to extend the current CBA, but the recently reelected union boss didn’t close the door on early negotiations after the 2018 season (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero and the Washington Post’s Mark Maske).

This collective bargaining agreement was painfully negotiated at a time when the league secured a $4 billion war chest to basically put us out of business,” Smith said. “There are a lot of great things about the collective bargaining agreement, but whether it’s the great things or the thing that we don’t like, collective bargaining agreements are grinding, exhausting elements that come out of two parties that want fundamentally different things.

So, I could never imagine a world where you would simply put a page on the back of it that says, ‘This document is now extended until 2035.”

Player discipline will be a central issue to the next agreement, per executive committee member Zak DeOssie, as will the resistance of the long-rumored 18-game season. NFLPA president Eric Winston remains opposed, a stance the players have long held.

Smith said he’s engaged in discussions with Goodell about injuries sustained on Thursday-night games. Possible fixes suggested in those talks were possibly scheduling bye weeks in front of teams’ Thursday assignments and implementing unspecified mandatory rest periods for players. Placing byes in front of Thursday games may conflict with the league’s London agenda. Many teams given the England games prefer their bye to come after that trip, so navigating around that could be difficult.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

League Notes: Goodell, Anti-Tampering, Mexico, NFLPA

The issues regarding the current Roger Goodell contract negotiations have been well documented over the past few months. From problems stemming from power over the league to the notable grievances Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has brought up throughout the process, the efforts towards a deal have not been without a lot of public mud throwing. However, a deal is still expected to be reached during or right before the Owners Meeting kick off in Dallas on December 13, according to sources talking to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Schefter also adds that attempts to delay the contract agreement has dissipated “meaningfully”, according to one league source. There’s always been a belief that ultimately both sides would agree on the terms, it was more of a question of when those final talks would take place. The insider relays that Goodell is expected to be paid up to $40 MM a year from 2019-2023 if all his bonuses come to fruition. This would make the commissioner a whopping $200 MM if these reported numbers are correct. The reported base salary would still be in the single-digit million dollar range, but his extra compensation would push his pay up to those higher-end rates.

It remains to be seen what type of impact this public dispute will have on Goodell’s power in terms of moving forward even after a deal is reached, but that’s probably a separate issue for the commissioner who’s looking to maintain his hold on the league for another five years.

  • Schefter also passed along that the NFL sent out a league-wide email last week reminding teams of new anti-tampering rules in regards to general manager interviews. The new rules allow for less strict guidelines for potential interviews for candidates on opposing teams. Schefter notes that one of the changes allows for teams to interview people even if they have control of their current team’s 53 man roster during the interview process. A anonymous NFL executive told Schefter that the new rules will have a “big impact” on front office movement during the offseason. While fans are used to seeing team personnel changes every year, this new adjustment should increase the amount of rumors that swirl in terms of what front office executives will be coming and going from franchises across the league.
  • Today, the NFL and the Mexico Ministry of Tourism announced a new deal that will keep the league playing in Mexico from 2019-2021. The NFL’s Vice President of Football Communications Michael Signora posted a tweet of the agreement, which states that there will be a regular season game played in Mexico City for the next three years after the current contract ends next season. The move clearly indicates that the league is still looking to maintain and even gain more of a presence internationally. The Raiders have played in both contests in Mexico so far, so you would think that the NFL will continue to give international fans a chance to keep seeing them even after they relocate to Las Vegas.
  • In NFLPA news, a former challenger of current head of the union DeMaurice Smith, attorney Cyrus Mehri is being open about his concerns with how the organization is being run. Apparently, Mehri sent a report to players across the league accusing Smith of spending “excessive” amounts of money on legal fees in order to fight off challengers, including himself, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Maske reports that the remarks from Mehri stated that the Players Union spent over $113 MM in legal fees when a league like the NBA was only spending about $1.5 MM in a similar amount of time. While Smith did end up holding onto his current job, this news opens up questions about some of the inner workings of the union under the control of Smith. We’ll see what defense the NFLPA comes out with because they have yet to comment on this situation and they will likely need to address these shady reports if Smith hopes to stand on firmer ground with his players in the months to come.

 

Eric Winston On NFLPA Extending DeMaurice Smith

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith received a unanimous vote of confidence in being extended earlier this week. Smith’s term will run through at least 2021 and possibly longer. That year looms as a critical year for the NFLPA since the current CBA expires after the 2020 season.

NFLPA president Eric Winston discussed the decision to keep Smith in his current post, rather than open that position up to an outside challenger in March.

Is that the way Apple does it?” the recently released tackle said of the prospect of a full-scale election process (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Does Apple open up for their CEO spot? Does Tim Cook have to run against someone every three years? Does the Commissioner run against someone? Is that how the NFL does business? I think that’s silly.

I think there’s a time and a place for elections, but again, this isn’t a public office. And that’s sort of what we had three years ago, and guys overwhelmingly rejected that thought. … So I kind of reject the notion that there needs to be a street fight every three years or every four or five years to decide if we have the right guy. I don’t think that necessarily healthy for the union and I don’t think frankly that’s how good companies are run.”

Smith has served in this post since March 2009 and led the way toward hammering out the current CBA on which the league’s operating. He will now have a chance to negotiate the next one and has already proclaimed the ensuing agreement won’t be completed without a “significant” work stoppage.

Cyrus Mehri emerged as a top potential challenger to Smith, but the 14 members of the selection committee did not end up allowing him to make a legitimate push.

You’d have to ask them,” Winston said of the committee’s decision. “I mean obviously I know he ran as if this was a public campaign and frankly maybe he thought it was for whatever reason, but he didn’t do the homework and understand what the process was and how the process has changed. But obviously he didn’t move the needle with guys and frankly a lot of the things he said we’re going forward with already, so there wasn’t a lot of new criticism and what he said was a lot of what people said three years ago and that was kind of similarly rejected as well three years ago.”

As for if Smith had any role in manipulating the process to make sure it was harder to replace him? Winston shot that down quickly.

I think it’s a slap in the face when you start talking about that because … I can tell you De Smith has nothing to do with the resolution process,” Winston said. “He’s in the back, he offers his opinion when he’s asked and that’s it. The board, the executive committee, and the guys run the resolution process.

This was run through resolution so we had a committee, again we studied it all year and then guys decided what process was best for them. We ended up talking about this for an hour during meetings. Going back and forth, ‘OK, should it be unanimous? Should it not be unanimous? Should it be a two-thirds vote here?’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On NFLPA Chief DeMaurice Smith

DeMaurice Smith has been re-elected as executive director of the NFLPA, but the length of his term has yet to be determined, NFLPA president Eric Winston tells PFT. It was initially reported that Smith’s deal would automatically go through 2021 if re-elected. Instead, it could be a three-year extension. DeMaurice Smith (vertical)

[RELATED: NFLPA Re-Elects DeMaurice Smith]

The league’s current labor deal goes through March 2021, meaning that a three-year deal would have him exiting at the same time. That’s probably not a practical scenario, so a term taking him through 2023 probably makes more sense. The union plans to decide on Smith’s contract by March 2018.

Now that Smith has defeated lawyer Cyrus Mehri to retain his position, the NFL says it’s eager to get going on CBA talks.

This is something we think is in both parties’ interest,” league spokesman Joe Lockhart said (link). “It’s certainly not our view that a work stoppage is inevitable. There’s no reason for that. It’s not in the interests of the game.”

In the past, Smith has indicated that a work stoppage at the end of the current CBA is something of an inevitability. Hopefully, both sides will be able to get what they want without a strike or lockout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFLPA Re-Elects DeMaurice Smith

The NFLPA has re-elected DeMaurice Smith as executive director by a 14-0 vote, according to Jim Trotter of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Smith’s new term runs thorough 2021 and is concurrent with the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement.DeMaurice Smith (vertical)

Civil rights lawyer Cyrus Mehri had been expected to contend for the top union job, but Smith easily won re-election with an uncontested vote. As such, Smith will lead negotiations as the NFL and the NFLPA attempt to hammer out a new agreement when the current CBA expires in three-plus years.

Smith’s re-election doesn’t necessarily mean labor peace is on the horizon, however. Indeed, reports have indicated the union is preparing for some sort of work stoppage (either via a lockout or strike), while Smith himself has indicated that he’s not willing to extend the CBA.

“I don’t know what [Roger Goodell is] thinking when he says extension,” said Smith. “But there’s not gonna be an extension of the CBA. If the owners are interested in talking about issues that are currently covered by the CBA or issues that aren’t currently covered by the CBA and they want to have a renegotiation on some of those issues, we’ll have a renegotiation of those issues. But there’s not going to be a 2025 [or] 2027 addendum to the CBA that says, ‘We’re good with this.’”

Smith, who was also a unanimous selection in 2009, reportedly benefited from a revamped selection process that prevented a multitude of candidates from joining the race.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest on DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA

It sounds like DeMaurice Smith‘s future status as the NFL Players Association’s executive director may be more secure than initially thought. With the standard voting expected in March, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that the NFLPA is has revamped the election process, which would seemingly make it easier for the incumbent to retain their position.

DeMaurice Smith (vertical)By mid-October, a 14-member selection committee will vote on whether they should extend Smith’s contract. If the vote is unanimous, Smith will keep his job. If seven-to-13 of these members approve this move, then the vote will be moved to the board of player representatives (which includes members of every NFL team). If 21 (“two-thirds” of the grouping, technically) of these players approve, then Smith maintains his job.

An election for the executive director spot will only happen if six or fewer members of the selection committee commit, or if less than 21 player representatives don’t approve the move. In this situation, the selection committee would then choose several candidates to (presumably) run against Smith.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes, this decision will prevent the “umpteen-candidate clusterfudge” election that occurred in 2015. Furthermore, with the NFLPA preparing for a CBA negotiation (and an impending extension for commissioner Roger Goodell), retaining the executive director “could be the right message to send to management.”

Of course, some believe Smith instituted this rule to help himself keep his job. This includes lawyer Cyrus Mehri, who was prepared to run for the executive director gig.

“De Smith has given the vast majority of NFL players and the public at large the false impression that the election is in March of 2018,” Mehri said. “Meanwhile, he devised a scheme with a virtually secret and unobtainable constitution to prevent any election at all.

“We will not let him get away with this. Players deserve choices. We are going to fight every day to advance player voices and choices. To be the [executive director] of the NFLPA is a privilege that should be earned every three years in broad daylight. The stakes are too high to deprive NFL players of an opportunity to evaluate the candidates after a full debate.”

Smith was a unanimous choice for the role back in 2009, earning the job over Troy VincentTrace Armstrong, and David Cornwell. The 53-year-old predictably had a major role when the NFLPA negotiated a CBA with the owners back in 2011. However, despite his apparent positive influence, Mehri doesn’t believe that Smith’s new election rule is reflective of the NFLPA.

“It is ironic in a league where players have to compete every single day that De Smith is afraid of competition,” Mehri said. “NFL players deserve better.”

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Spring League, NFLPA, Tulloch

Want to play professional football? The Spring League is ready to give a chance to hopefuls everywhere with tryouts in multiple cities this fall, according to a press release. The Spring League will hold its first open audition in New York (October 1), followed by events in Cincinnati (October 8), Memphis (October 22), Dallas (November 5), Atlanta (November 19), Tampa (February 18), and Los Angeles (February 25).

Last year, The Spring League launched with four teams playing in an accelerated six-game season. The league, which is not affiliated with the NFL, featured a number of notable names, including defensive end Greg Hardy, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., and running backs Ben Tate and Ahmad Bradshaw. It’s likely that we’ll see some more familiar faces when things kick off in April.

Here’s more from around the world of football:

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell had his contract extended through the 2024 season, but his counterpart at the players’ union is only signed through March of 2018. NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith tells HBO’s Bryant Gumbel that he would like to stay on board for another term (via PFT). The union gives three-year terms to its presidents, so another deal would mean that Smith’s contract would expire shortly after the current CBA runs out in 2021.
  • Former NFLer Stephen Tulloch will visit the Lions this week to assist in coaching the club’s linebackers, tweets Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Tulloch, who announced his retirement in April, will not be restarting his career, although he might be able to help given the thin state of Detroit’s linebacking corps. After spending 2011-15 with the Lions, Tulloch joined the Eagles last spring but ultimately played only 69 defensive snaps in Philadelphia.
  • This week, Jets owner Woody Johnson was formally sworn in as America’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. The move forced the team to shake up its management structure.

Is The NFLPA Preparing For A Lockout?

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in early 2021, and it looks like the NFL Player’s Association is already preparing for a potential work stoppage. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the NFLPA’s board of representatives have approved a plan that would set aside millions of dollars into a “work-stoppage fund.”

DeMaurice Smith (vertical)Instead of immediately handing out the licensing royalties to players, the NFLPA is seemingly setting this money aside in case of a strike. Pelissero suggests the players will ultimately accumulate more than $90MM over the next four years, “on top of union dues that already are saved for that purpose.” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has already done an admirable job of collecting money since taking over the role in 2008, as the union has over $314 million in net assets.

2016 royalty money will still be handed out to players this fall, with the “equal share” starting to see an impact for the 2017 campaign. Pelissero reports that the “equal share” earnings for NFL players in 2015 was around $13,200, which ends up equaling out to more than $22MM. This number will surely be reduced as the NFLPA looks to save some money for a potential work stoppage. Any applicable royalties will also be placed into the fund until a player retires, unless there’s a strike before then. In that case, the collected royalty money will be allocated to the players immediately (as determined by the NFLPA board).

On the flip side, the NFL itself reportedly doesn’t have these financial contingencies in place. As the the writer notes, a matter of contention during the 2011 strike was the NFLPA’s assertion that the league had saved up more than $4 billion in TV revenue for a potential lockout.

The NFL has reportedly approached the NFLPA regarding a renegotiation multiple times, but to no avail. Pelissero suggests that “stadium credits” will surely be atop the list of sticking points, along with how money is allocated via the lucrative television deal. Offseason practice rules and Roger Goodell‘s “authority over discipline” will also surely be discussed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFLPA Not Looking To Extend Current CBA

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement isn’t set to expire until 2020, but reports from October indicated that the league’s owners were hoping to extend the deal. Well, USA Today’s Tom Pelissero passes along quotes (via Twitter) from Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association DeMaurice Smith, who says the current CBA will not be extended.

DeMaurice Smith (vertical)“There’s not gonna be an extension of the CBA,” Smith said in late January (via Mark Maske of The Washington Post). “I don’t know what [Roger Goodell is] thinking when he says extension. But there’s not gonna be an extension of the CBA. If the owners are interested in talking about issues that are currently covered by the CBA or issues that aren’t currently covered by the CBA and they want to have a renegotiation on some of those issues, we’ll have a renegotiation of those issues. But there’s not going to be a 2025 [or] 2027 addendum to the CBA that says, ‘We’re good with this.’

“I don’t think that’s what he meant when he said extension. But I don’t spend a whole heck of a lot of time trying to unpack what other people are thinking when they say stuff.”

 

 

Of course, Smith acknowledged that the current deal could be renegotiated as the two sides work out some differences regarding the current CBA. Television revenue and stadium credits are among the “issues” that the two sides continue to chat about, according to Pelissero (via Twitter). Jason Cole of Bleacher Reports adds (via Twitter) that the player’s union is also planning on taking a look at the “use of marijuana in pain management.” ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes that one course of action could allow NFL players to receive a “therapeutic use exemption” when it comes to marijuana.

When the owners were pushing for an extension in October, they were concerned with funding for potential stadiums in Las Vegas and San Diego. While the Raiders are still eyeing a potential move to Sin City, the Chargers have already announced that they’ll be moving to Los Angeles in 2017.

Yahoo’s Charles Robinson writes that the players aren’t inclined to extend or renegotiate the CBA because of the rapidly growing cap. While the cap was only $123MM in 2013, it’s expected to grow to $165MM this offseason, a more than $1.34 billion increase when you account for the entire league. Robinson notes that we’re still not close to any labor issues, but the fact that the NFL is already to looking for changes (while the union is looking to stay put) is certainly telling.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.