Blog Entry

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

Posted on: May 9, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:33 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED 4:32 p.m. ET: From the Twitter account of NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:

"Re: reports that if forced by courts to operate w/o consent of players, rules for 2011 could be different than 2010 rules: here is our reax: Our goal has at all times been the same – to operate under a negotiated set of procedures that are agreed to by the clubs and NFLPA. The current litigation has created a significant amount of uncertainty and we are therefore considering a wide range of alternatives depending on developments."


Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reports that the NFL is working on free agency rules for the 2011 season that “would be very different from 2010.”

As Kaplan writes on Twitter, though, no decision has been made to go forward with those potential new rules. And if the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals does not overturn Judge Susan Nelson’s lockout injunction, the NFL still could choose to revert to the 2010 rules if and when it has to begin the 2011 calendar season.

The biggest difference in the 2010 free agency rules was that a player had to wait until after his sixth year before he became an unrestricted free agent (as opposed to after four years in the previous salary-capped seasons). For players who had four accrued seasons after 2009 and would normally have become unrestricted free agents, a reversion to the 2010 rules for 2011 would be the second-straight season they would be restricted in their free agency.

As the NY Times reports, the ending of the lockout also could allow the NFL to create more stringent drug testing rules, because there would be no union to stop it.

Roger Goodell already is on record as saying he wanted blood testing for human growth hormone, and this might be a good opportunity for him to do it (even though many players would vehemently disagree with that decision - unfortunately for them, they have no union to negotiate on their behalf).

“Our thought has been we have always been looking to make our program as effective as it can be,” an unnamed N.F.L. executive told the Times. “There have been some things, H.G.H. is one of them, that the union has resisted. When we get to the point where there is not a party involved, maybe we should consider what we consider important to keep pace with science and trends.”

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Category: NFL

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: May 9, 2011 8:55 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

"People make al sorts of freedom limiting compromises to get and keep a job (or else do something else), why are football players different?"

I agree, but don't stop after looking at only half the picture.  Owners aren't different either and when owners of different businesses get together to restrict the free movement of labor, that's collusion.     

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: May 9, 2011 8:45 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

Both sides want their cake and eat it too.  I am hoping for a judgement that simply states that without a collective bargaining agreement the basic laws of business apply.  For the owners: no NFL minium wage, freedom to mandate employee drug testing, and as many games as they wish.   For the players: no salary cap, unrestricted free agancy, and no draft. 

Truth, Justice and the American way,       

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2011 7:31 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

If I really wanted a job and the potential employer wanted me to take a blood test to verify I didn't take HGH, I'd take the test or find another job. Why is this even an issue? People make al sorts of freedom limiting compromises to get and keep a job (or else do something else), why are football players different?

Since: Jul 13, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:29 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

Right on, !  Totally agree.  ...and go Bruins!

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2011 6:04 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

This whole thing is ugly.  The players aren't expecting more money, they are expecting the revenue sharing to stay the same.  If there is an 18 game season, which means an increase in the time they work (to put it in traditional business terms), they should, in fact, receive a proportionate raise.  Last that I heard on that issue, that raise would be in the form of greater percentage of their contract being guaranteed (which means they make the same but also aren't SOL if they get cut, which is the current system now).  Wouldn't you want, and rightfully deserve, more money if you are expected to work more?  
In terms of a rookie wage scale, the players are all for it, except for the rookies.  The veteran players cannot stand how grossly overpaid rookies are who have yet to play a down of professional football.  Why should Cam Newton, a developmental quarterback in most people's eyes, get more money (potentially) than Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Josh Freeman, all who were drafted a few years prior (and started out grossly overpaid) and have either won playoff games, or brought a team from the #3 overall pick to 1 win from making the playoffs in a single season?  Why is Mark Sanchez reportedly the 3rd (tied with Big Ben) highest paid quarterback at $14.75 million, only to Peyton Manning and Mike Vick (franchise tag numbers skewing that stat, but maybe Brady or Rodgers will pass him, but probably having absolutely nothing to do with the fact they have won Super Bowls and Sanchez has yet to reach one with arguably the games most stacked defense)?  Why is Matthew Stafford, who hasn't played a full NFL season, the 7th highest paid quarterback?  The veterans are all for the rookies making less, because it opens the door for them to make more or not lose starting jobs simply because of a numbers game in terms of dollars and cents.  During mediation, the basic parameters were actually worked on for a rookie wage scale.  Nothing agreed on, and obviously the only reported figures from the owners were far less than the players were looking at, but that part of the CBA won't be a sticking point at all.
Now onto the ever popular HGH drug testing part.  Football is not the only sport fighting this battle.  MLB is going through the same thing, and what the NFL does will set a precedent for all other leagues, so that part will get brutal.  The only real, true, argument that the players have against HGH testing is the blood test.  It is not been stated to cover up anything.  It is because of the test itself being too invasive, and going against their rights to privacy or something along those lines.  So in a round about way to cover their tracks elsewhere, but just like in a police search, if you are only looking for one thing, as stated on the search warrant, anything else found cannot be used to bring up new charges and will with dismissed at court.  And because blood tests are an avenue to millions of other things, it is invasive.  Do I agree with the players, I do to a degree.  I'm not sure if I fully agree because of the nature of covering up and not being able to get caught for cheating, but all the other doors it opens is the issue at hand.  And it is a legit argument, and I'm not sure if it will ever pass, in blood test form.  If I had to guess, and this is a shot in the dark, but the best case scenario is for their to be other tests that are less invasive to be done, and if certain levels are not normal, which COULD (again not definite but possible) indicate possible HGH use, then for a follow-up invasive test of a blood sample to do taken.  It is essentially setting up the basis for a search warrant (which is an invasive search) to track for HGH.  It is not "random" sampling.  It simply gives reasonable cause to look for that one particular thing, which in this case is HGH.  It also would save the league millions of dollars as well, as a blood test is costly to do, and if done for every player, the medical expenses cost will go up, making the league's profits go down.  If it is only done when there is probable cause to do it, it would save lots of money in the long run.  Might not save millions per season, but long term it will.  
Another radical solution would be for the owners to have to pay for all needed drug tests for their own players.  League dictates that player x might be cheating, he must be tested at the cost of the owner (or part owner part player).  That will encourage the owners to not pay as much money for a potential cheater, and that would drive a player's salary down for suspected cheating.  It then, in turn, will make it less likely for the player to cheat.  Like I said, very radical.  And more just food for thought.  But worth throwing it out there.  

Since: Sep 5, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:36 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

PH02139 RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!!!!!!

Since: Apr 6, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:15 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

I love it.  Without the union the NFL is going to do whatever the heck they want and push through all the changes they feel like because there is no union to fight them.  If the court lifts the lockout, they will simply shut it down and make the players work for minimum wage flipping burgers at McDonald's.

Since: May 14, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2011 3:57 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

The "negotiations" are not working for anyone... The owners asking for an 18 game schedule and the players demanding unacheivable disclosure and revenue sharing means we're headed for a situation worse then the last stike. Tear it down and build it over again!

Since: Jan 8, 2008
Posted on: May 9, 2011 3:41 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

The owners will get what they want.  It is their businesses/teams/league.  There was an article about the owners just closing up shop and then start from scratch. This is the best option for the owners.  They will then be able to dictate the terms of employment...just like when we go to work for are the terms...don't like them, ok have a good day.
My son is going for a summer job in a supermarket, he will be drug tested.  Someone is going for a job in the future NFL, or whatever it may be called, they will be subjected to the pre-employment requirements.  If that is HGH testing then so be it. If the potential employee does not like it, go to the CFL or wherever, you have a degree work in that field.  There are instances of people losing their employment due to the things that they post on Facebook, MySpace and the like.  They apparently were in violation of personal conduct code.  An athlete gets in trouble with the authorities, they become an embarrasment to the team/league and are disciplined.
Unions were a valuable part of the Labor Movement years ago and have helped to keep up minimum standards in the work place, but having been in unions before I have seen all that they are accomplishing in todays society is keeping the employee that is a major screw up employed.  Those that are in unions know that this is true.  The market will dictate what players will be paid, there have been a few players that have chosen not to play in the NFL and I am sure other major sports. Professional athletes careers are short and they should try to get whatever they can while they can...but they do not run the business.  If they do not like what is being offered then go ply your trade elsewhere ... or better yet use that degree that they have and see what they will receive.

Since: May 31, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2011 2:56 pm

Report: NFL working on new free agency rules

@ Sully:

Yes, there is a HGH test.  The problem is, the reliable one is a blood test, which the NFLPA has been against (I'm not sure if it's because they're worried about what other information can be gathered from a blood test, or if it's because players are afraid of needles).

Between the drug testing talk, the talk of changing free agency, etc... I think the owners are just making players aware that hey: we don't have to revert to 2010 rules.  With no union and no CBA, they can pretty much set the rules however they like (as long as it doesn't include things that could be seen as collusion, like a salary cap).  Which means, of course, that the new season could include rules that are EXTREMELY owner-friendly and undesirable to the players, unless they re-unionize or otherwise work out a CBA agreement.

That's sort of been the problem for the player's side of this thing all along.  Even if they win, they don't really win.  The best they can do is win enough to give themselves leverage for the bargaining talks.  Like it or not, the owners have a position of power here.  They can survive a non-season better than the players can, and if the season is played, they can find ways to make it miserable for the players while maximizing their own profits.  Heck, if it drags out to 2012, they could even implement the 18 game season without player input if they want to (they could do it for a 2011 played season, but they'd have to re-make the schedule).  They could mandate year-round training camps, severely restrict free agency, or even charge "Uniform rental fees" for the use of jerseys, shoes, and helmets (hey, lots of businesses do it!).  I'm sure they could think of all kinds of ways to be really annoying until a new CBA is reached.

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