NFL Players Association

Extra Points: NFLPA, Supplemental Draft, Browner

NFL Players Association president Eric Winston is hoping to avoid a work stoppage in 2021. However, the free agent offensive tackle understands that the players need to be prepared for anything.

“I certainly hope not,” Winston answered when asked about the possibility of a work stoppage (via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter). “But I can’t tell those guys not to be ready for it.”

Winston also cited the NFL’s tactics during the 2011 negotiations, and he said the NFLPA will be ready this time around.nfl

“We’ve got to be able to stand our ground and to educate guys and communicate to guys [in advance],” Winston said.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com believes the Browns are in prime position to land a cornerback during tomorrow’s supplemental draft. While all of the NFL teams were present for cornerback Sam Beal‘s Pro Day at Western Michigan, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey was one of the few top executives to attend the workout. Furthermore, the team has recently put an emphasis on acquiring defensive backs. They added T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell via free agency, they traded for Damarious Randall, and they drafted rookie Denzel Ward with the fourth-overall pick. While the team does have plenty of depth, Cabot believes Dorsey won’t hesitate to take Beal.
  • Meanwhile, one pundit believes the Browns could end up using a fourth-rounder on the cornerback. “Cleveland can bid a fourth because they’re a team that’s kind of up and coming,” NFLdraftscout.com’s Rob Rang told Cabot. “They’ve already invested a lot in defensive backs, but you can never have too many good corners. I just don’t know that this is someone you can count on to produce immediately. With all of the veterans they brought in, and with them drafting Denzel Ward, I don’t know that Cleveland has to take him.” If this ends up being the case, the Browns would have to sacrifice a fourth-rounder during next year’s draft.

Extra Points: NFLPA, Siemian, Verrett, 49ers

One of the 14 members of the NFLPA’s selection committee responsible for re-electing executive director DeMaurice Smith, Dolphins long snapper John Denney said the No. 1 issue among his constituents — as the team’s union rep — is guaranteed money. The contracts annually doled out to NBA and MLB talents, in leagues with fewer players, include far more guarantees than NFLers’ deals. That issue eclipsed personal conduct complaints, Denney said (via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald).

You can’t have it all, so what’s at the top of the list?” Denney said, via Beasley, in an apparent defense of Smith’s handling of the 2011 CBA — one that granted Roger Goodell with the controversial disciplinary powers he holds. “It really does boil down to money. It does affect some guys, but it’s a very few amount of guys. The union has to make decisions for all of the current players. You’ve got 1,500, 1,600 players. How many of those players are dealing with off the field issues? You’re going to tell these 1,600 players, ‘Are you willing to give us this money so eight or nine players a year won’t have to deal with the things they’re dealing with? You still want to go to bat for your guys, but you’ve got to make decisions on what’s best for the group.”

Here’s the latest from around the league going into this season’s Sunday of action.

  • Conversely, SI.com’s Robert Klemko argues the NFL’s product has suffered because of the Smith-negotiated CBA. Early-season football — particularly line play — has been scrutinized for years, and a lack of practice time when compared to past generations is an obvious culprit. The players received a key concession in that department, but aesthetically, the game hasn’t improved. Additionally, the revamped rookie wage scale — while opening the door to more extension and free agency opportunities for veterans — has also led to teams carrying more young, and thus lesser-prepared, talent. Klemko notes the middle-class contract has become endangered, with Smith overcorrecting for the previous era of exorbitant rookie deals. The result has allowed teams to stockpile rookie contracts, saving money but also lowering the quality-of-play floor.
  • IR remains a possibility for 49ers defensive lineman Tank Carradine, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (on Twitter) he received a shorter return timetable than expected. The starting defensive end will be out between four and six weeks with a high ankle sprain, with Rapoport adding the 49ers may elect to keep him on the active roster rather than shuttle him to IR. An IR trip would shelve Carradine for eight weeks.
  • Trevor Siemian has picked up plenty of Peyton Manning‘s work-ethic habits, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reveals in an expansive story. Citing Siemian’s early-morning facility arrival, Jhabvala writes the Broncos current starting quarterback’s taken to many of his predecessor’s revered preparation methods. The second-year starter also underwent left shoulder surgery after playing on a separated clavicle for three months last season, per Jhabvala. Siemian is tied for the NFL lead with six touchdown passes going into Week 3.
  • Jason Verrett‘s latest injury elevates the Chargers‘ near-future cornerback need, Eric Williams of ESPN.com writes. While a Pro Bowl talent, Verrett — placed on IR today due to a forthcoming knee surgery — has been unable to stay on the field. At the conclusion of this season, the 2014 first-round pick will have played in only 25 of 64 possible games. He’s under contract for next season, via the fifth-year option, and Williams doesn’t expect GM Tom Telesco to use the same strategy he did with D.J. Fluker (cutting him before the option became guaranteed). But Williams notes Verrett’s lack of dependability will make it difficult to sign the 2014 first-round pick to an extension. For now, 2016 UDFA Trevor Williams will start alongside Casey Hayward.

Cyrus Mehri Plans To Contest DeMaurice Smith’s NFLPA Re-Election

The NFLPA decided to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith, amending the union’s constitution from holding another election. Smith attained the job in 2009 and won elections in 2012 and 2015. This week’s unanimous vote — one featuring Richard Sherman, Adam Vinatieri, Dolphins long snapper John Denney and free agent center Ryan Wendell as four of the 14 voters — put the kibosh on Cyrus Mehri‘s hopes of challenging Smith in a 2018 election.

The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reports Mehri wrote a letter to NFLPA president Eric Winston and the executive committee Thursday indicating he still intends to press the league’s 32 player reps for a formal spring election.

Basically, I’m going to tell player reps, ‘Look, you were robbed of this ability to control your own destiny. You’re only going to get good things from competition. You can have a competition if you stand up and say you want it,’” Mehri said, via Volin. “The players that I talked to loved the ideas that I had. If we can organize the player reps to call for an election, it will happen.”

The co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that brought the Rooney Rule to the league, the 56-year-old Mehri told Volin the NFLPA didn’t post the new constitution on its website until August. Upon informing Winston at an August dinner about his plans to challenge Smith for the post, the would-be challenger didn’t come away pleased with the response.

Winston said Mehri “didn’t do his homework” about the changes, instead making his pursuit like a public campaign. The NFLPA, per Volin, did not want another “free-for-all” like what occurred in 2015, when Smith fended off eight others vying for the executive director job. This led to the 14-member vote this week.

At the end of the dinner Eric mentioned to me, ‘Well, they changed the process,’” Mehri told Volin. “They wanted to create the false impression that the election was in the spring. Meanwhile, they were just going to quietly have his contract renewed by some insiders.”

Mehri has already approached player reps about his crusade. Winston said earlier this week having full-on elections every three years would not be a good look for the union. Mehri appears to disagree.

I started talking to player reps, and a couple of things happened — they uniformly are in favor of competition, uniformly they feel I’m a legitimate candidate, and uniformly none of them remember signing off on changing the constitution,” Mehri said. “Which they must have done, but must have done in such a trickery way that they didn’t know what they were signing on to.

So I think there’s a scandal buried in this thing, because normally a constitutional change would be in neon lights, very vivid and open.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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 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.

Is The NFLPA Still Preparing For A Lockout?

We learned back in May that the NFLPA’s board of representatives had approved a plan that would set aside millions of dollars into a “work-stoppage fund,” allowing the players to make some money if an NFL season is cancelled or delayed. Now, it sounds like the Players Association wants the athletes to start saving up their own personal money as they prepare for a potential lockout in 2021.

George Atallah“We wound up in a situation where unfortunately [savings] didn’t happen across the league as much as it could have happened,” spokesman George Atallah recently said on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com).

“In 2009, we were faced with a major sort of signal that the owners were going to try and lock players out. We were trying to get as many players prepared as possible. . . We need players of every generation to really help the young guys understand what it takes to go through some labor strife. For the players who went through it in 2011, the union administration and player leadership did everything it could to prepare players across the league. I think it needs to happen again with the same sort of fervor.”

This game plan is easier said than done. Florio notes that a solid portion of the potentially impacted players are currently in college or high school. Therefore, it might be especially unrealistic to expect these kids to be financially conservative after they finally sign their first NFL contract.

Alternatively, Florio suggests that the NFLPA could find a clever way for players to make money during a potential lockout, thus providing them with some leverage as they’re negotiating with the league. There were talks in 2011 of unaffiliated exhibition games, and the writer believes the players should start the process of determining these specifics now (as opposed to down the road).

The union already has more than $314 million in net assets, and that doesn’t account for the $90MM they’re expecting from that previously-mentioned “work-stoppage fund.” 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

The NFL has reportedly approached the NFLPA regarding a renegotiation multiple times, but to no avail. “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 presumably be discussed.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Latest On Adrian Peterson Appeal

Roger Goodell and the NFL have once again prevailed in appeals court. As Dave Campbell of the Associated Press writes, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this week that NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson “acted with his rights” when upholding the six-game suspension handed to Adrian Peterson in 2014. Last year, U.S. District Judge David Doty had said Henderson “overreached his authority” when handling the NFLPA’s original appeal. NFL: Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams

Before we discuss what this means for the NFL and the players, let’s review the previous circumstances. Peterson was originally handed a six-game suspension by Goodell following news of child abuse, with the commissioner citing the NFL’s personal conduct policy (a policy that had been adjusted following the infamous Ray Rice video). However, the NFLPA argued the suspension couldn’t be applied retroactively, since the reported abuse took place three months before the new rule was enhanced. Doty agreed with the Players Association, but that decision was revered this week by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Peterson was originally put on paid-leave for the first nine weeks of the 2014 season, and he was subsequently suspended for the final six weeks. The NFL had originally collected half of Peterson’s pro-rated forfeited salary, but they initially held off on collecting the other half. As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets, Peterson will now owe the NFL the equivalent of three game checks from the 2014 season (around $2MM). To be clear, Peterson will not miss additional time.

So what does this mean for the NFL? As Ben Volin of The Boston Globe writes, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is confirming Goodell’s “wide-ranging powers to punish players who violate the “integrity of the game.”” When coupled with the recent Tom Brady decision, Goodell’s “disciplinary powers” have been reinforced (while the union’s “bargaining power” has seemingly been weakened in regards to the next CBA).

The NFLPA released a “statement of resignation” (via Campbell):

“Our union pursues all claims because we believe in due process, fundamental fairness and in the spirit of collective bargaining agreements. While the NFLPA disagrees with the decision, we accept this loss,” the union said. “When negotiation or collective bargaining fails to resolve our differences, we will always fight and pursue every recourse for our players’ rights.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: NFLPA, Ball, Mason, Spence

Earlier this week, an arbitrator ruled that the NFL’s policy of placing players who are under investigation on paid leave using the commissioner’s exempt list is valid, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes. The NFL Players Association had filed a grievance against the policy, which has affected players such as Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, but the league scored a win over the union after having seen a handful of Roger Goodell‘s decisions overturned in court within the last couple years.

In the wake of the arbitrator’s ruling, optimism has “dimmed considerably” about the prospects of the NFL and NFLPA reaching a compromise on Goodell’s role in player discipline, writes Maske. Multiple sources tell Maske that there are no negotiations happening between the two sides regarding that issue at this point, with one source suggesting it may not be addressed until the next CBA: “We are where we are…. [It] seems like [there’s] nothing to talk about until 2020.”

As we wait to see what battle is next on the docket for the NFL and NFLPA, let’s check in on a few more odds and ends from around the NFL…

  • A pair of running backs have been dealing with legal trouble this week, with free agent Montee Ball arrested for felony bail jumping and Rams back Tre Mason missing an arraignment related to his March arrest. WKOW’s Robyn Turner has the story on Ball, while Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com has the details on Mason.
  • Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence is visiting the Texans today and will visit the Saints tomorrow, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Meanwhile, another potential first-round defender with some off-field question marks, Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss, has visits on tap with the Saints and Bengals, says Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter).
  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com and Mike Sando of ESPN.com (Insider link) had similar ideas, with each scribe writing articles proposing trades that could take place before or during this year’s draft. Both Corry and Sando suggested hypothetical deals involving Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, and Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles.
  • The NFL’s VP of football operations Merton Hanks has left the league office, multiple sources tell Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. It’s not known if the NFL or Hanks made the final call on his departure, but one source tells PFT that the move was part of an effort by the league to upgrade in that area. Two other NFL employees, Joe Hurta and Russ Giglio, are out as well, says Florio.

Roger Goodell Talks Pats, Chiefs, China, Vegas

With the NFL’s owners meetings winding down in Boca Raton, Florida, commissioner Roger Goodell took to the podium this morning to announcing the rules changes approved by the league and to take questions from reporters. We won’t get into the rule changes here, but we’ll round up several of the more noteworthy comments Goodell made in response to those reporters’ inquiries. Let’s dive in…

  • Goodell confirmed that he received Robert Kraft‘s letter asking for the Patriots to get their draft picks back. However, after “considering his views,” Goodell has decided that New England’s Deflategate penalties won’t be altered, since the commissioner doesn’t feel as if new information has surfaced.
  • The NFL and NFL Players Association are not close – “by any stretch of the imagination” – to reaching an agreement on player discipline that would strip Goodell of some or all of his power and authority.
  • Goodell expects to serve as the arbitrator for the Chiefsappeal of their tampering penalties, adding that he’ll make sure that appeal happened before the draft if the team pushes for that.
  • No discipline is expected for the Falcons and/or their coaches after secondary coach Marquand Manuel asked cornerback prospect Eli Apple at the combine if he liked men.
  • Although several reports have suggested that the Rams are expected to host the NFL’s 2018 regular-season game in China, Goodell said several teams are interested and no decisions have been made yet. However, he did confirm that the league will play a game in China in ’18.
  • Asked about the possibility of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, Goodell didn’t close the door on the possibility of having an NFL franchise there, suggesting that the league’s 32 owners would have a decision to make if a formal proposal was put on the table. The city’s economic reliance on gambling, and the potential impact on the NFL, would certainly be a significant factor in that decision.
  • While no decisions have been made on Josh Gordon‘s potential reinstatement, Goodell expects his staff to update him on the Browns wide receiver’s case next week.