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Thread: Should NFL contracts be fully guaranteed? Russell Okung thinks so.

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    Senior Member P_T's Avatar
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    Should NFL contracts be fully guaranteed? Russell Okung thinks so.

    Russell Okung argues for NFL guaranteed contracts, but will players strike to get them?


    We all know how the game works by now. The team and player (and his agent) announce some ridiculously large contract terms, but the player actually sees a fraction of that total because the deal isnít fully guaranteed. An NFL player can be cut loose on a whim, while MLB or NBA players are in a far less dangerous sport and donít have a worry about their contracts. The NFL is the most popular sport in America and has far more physical danger than basketball or baseball, yet operates without the guaranteed contracts that are standard in MLB and NBA.

    Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung, a NFLPA vice president who has long been a thoughtful voice for playersí rights, detailed in a long Twitter thread exactly why players need to fight for guaranteed deals. His points came as NBA players are signing the type of huge, guaranteed deals that NFL players should have secured a long time ago.
    Will the NFL ever see the players as ďpartnersĒ?

    Okungís entire thread is worth reading if you care about NFL labor issues ó and you will in 2021 at the latest, because a work stoppage seems like a good possibility ó but itís worth breaking down some of his key points.

    Okungís use of the word ďpartnersĒ is very interesting. While each sport has some labor/owner unrest, it seems the most contentious relationship is between NFL players and owners. While Houston Texans owner Bob McNairís comments about his players are the most extreme of the group, they also seemed to be telling. Thereís no partnership between the two sides. The NFL has constantly reminded the union since the last collective-bargaining agreement that it has all the power. The players canít help but notice the condescending tone and actions coming from the owners.

    Okung is right: It has never seemed like the NFL has viewed players as true partners in its multi-billion dollar endeavor.
    Two issues stand out to Okung

    The only way for the players to get some of the things they desire would be through a long work stoppage. The players need the CBA, mostly agreed to decades ago with a more friendly union that conceded all of the power to the league, to be completely redone. Okung recognized that.

    Okung took aim at two specific items in the CBA that have allowed owners to skirt the issue of guaranteed deals.

    While acknowledging salary caps in any sport arenít good for players, two NFL-specific rules have really been an issue. First, Okung pointed out that teams use ďdead moneyĒ on the salary cap as an excuse to pay players less in the present. Often teams cut a player before the end of his contract, and the remaining prorated part of the guaranteed money in the deal then counts against the cap.

    Also, the NFL has an old and antiquated rule that requires all unpaid money guaranteed in a playerís deal must be put in an escrow account. If a player has $30 million guaranteed in his deal, and $20 million is in a signing bonus paid out right away with another $10 million guaranteed through future roster bonuses or salaries, that remaining $10 million must be in an escrow account. That acts as an excuse for leagues to limit guaranteed money. Okung pointed out that with business booming in the NFL, the escrow funding rule isnít even necessary anymore.

    Will the players be able to fight the NFL?

    Okung made great points. He has been thinking these issues through for a long time; last fall he wrote a post for The Playersí Tribune that outlined a lot of his key points. His main point was players needing to organize and band together, which has always been a problem.

    NFL players have short careers and because of the non-guaranteed money, most NFL players are usually on edge when it comes to money. Fans who spend no time studying the issue and a lot of time complaining paint a picture of all players as greedy millionaires, when thereís clearly more to the debate they willfully ignore.

    Because NFL players donít have ultimate financial security and short careers, they often arenít willing to dig in for a prolonged labor fight. Itís hard to fight for the rights of players in future generations ó and give up game checks to do so ó when you donít know if youíll be around in a couple years, or even in a couple weeks.

    The challenge isnít understanding the battle. Okung and other smart players who understand the big picture very well have explained it in detail. The question, when the CBA is about to expire, will be if the players are finally willing to do what it takes to get from the owners what they should have had for decades.

  2. #2
    Senior Member L.T. Fan's Avatar
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    Nope.
    Since Day One

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    Senior Member Genghis Khan's Avatar
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    Would be a disaster.

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    Senior Member Cowboysrock55's Avatar
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    Yeah that's the point of guaranteed money and signing bonuses in contracts. You can't have NFL players collecting a check and not giving a shit because they know its all guaranteed.

    This isn't like baseball where players don't take much physical abuse.

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    Senior Member Genghis Khan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cowboysrock55 View Post
    Yeah that's the point of guaranteed money and signing bonuses in contracts. You can't have NFL players collecting a check and not giving a shit because they know its all guaranteed.

    This isn't like baseball where players don't take much physical abuse.
    Heck even in baseball it's dangerous. Pat Gillick used to have a general rule of not signing pitchers for longer than 3 years because arms are so fragile.

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    Senior Member 1bigfan13's Avatar
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    I'm all for the players receiving fully guaranteed contracts.

    I wouldn't worry about the effort of players waning with guaranteed contracts. Sure some would mail it in but that's already happening under the current format.

    It can be done without being too dangerous to a franchise's future. For one, fully guaranteed contracts should be no longer than 4 years.....and I'd only give the 4 year deals to positions of longevity like QB, OL, and DB. All others would have to work on 3 year or less deals. Franchises just need to be smarter. If you foolishly sign a DT to an 8 year fully guaranteed deal, that's on you. You made the decision, now deal with the consequences.

    Second, I think implementing some type of "Bird rights" stipulation into the CBA would help as well. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago.

    The current system seems like it's just a built-in excuse for owners to retain money and easily escape bad contracts that they and their front office agreed to. Which is BS, IMO.

    Another funny thing is the NFL has successfully tricked fans into siding with management in these financial matters. You see it all the time. Player X signs a 5 year deal. Player X under-performs and the team cuts him two years into the 5 year deal. No on bats an eye.

    But if Player X has two great, All-Pro caliber seasons and decides to hold out for more money because he's out-performing the contract, here come the fans with pitchforks and vitriol screaming: "HONOR THE CONTRACT!", "GET YOUR ASS TO CAMP YOU UNGRATEFUL, POS. YOU AGREED TO THE DEAL!"

    Why isn't there any outrage when the organizations don't "honor the contract"?

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    Senior Member Cowboysrock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1bigfan13 View Post
    I'm all for the players receiving fully guaranteed contracts.

    I wouldn't worry about the effort of players waning with guaranteed contracts. Sure some would mail it in but that's already happening under the current format.

    It can be done without being too dangerous to a franchise's future. For one, fully guaranteed contracts should be no longer than 4 years.....and I'd only give the 4 year deals to positions of longevity like QB, OL, and DB. All others would have to work on 3 year or less deals. Franchises just need to be smarter. If you foolishly sign a DT to an 8 year fully guaranteed deal, that's on you. You made the decision, now deal with the consequences.

    Second, I think implementing some type of "Bird rights" stipulation into the CBA would help as well. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago.

    The current system seems like it's just a built-in excuse for owners to retain money and easily escape bad contracts that they and their front office agreed to. Which is BS, IMO.
    It's not a trick, fans have always rooted for what is best for their team.

    But this isn't some trick for teams to keep money. When a player is cut and the team saves cap room on that contract the money gets passed along to a different player. And the NFL doesn't prevent guaranteed contracts. It's just that players don't fight for them. Because like you mentioned they are generally smaller and for less money.

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    Senior Member pdom's Avatar
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    If players don’t like the ‘raw’ deal they’re getting, they can get a real job then.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/raiders...man-sachs/amp/

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    Senior Member 1bigfan13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdom View Post
    If players don’t like the ‘raw’ deal they’re getting, they can get a real job then.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/raiders...man-sachs/amp/
    Why don't we get an attitude when people with "real jobs" utilize their unions to challenge "raw deals"?

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    Administrator boozeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cowboysrock55 View Post
    Yeah that's the point of guaranteed money and signing bonuses in contracts. You can't have NFL players collecting a check and not giving a shit because they know its all guaranteed.

    This isn't like baseball where players don't take much physical abuse.
    The idea is shorter contracts with more guarantees. Like two years.

    If the players had brains, they would decide, as a group to do this, it might work.

    But the thing is players want the team to "show them the love" with a stupid contract that they aren't smart enough to figure out.

    Some of these poor schlubs act like they are getting married and the team is actually committed to them.

    Their agent isn't going to argue as I am sure they get their commission on the front end.

    The big problem with player contracts, if there is one, is the very people signing them.

    They aren't able to see beyond the illusion of being "rich" because they signed a billion gazillion dollar contract, when most of the time they never see all that money.

    This is not like other sports.

    Players aren't smart enough to figure out what is the best for them. Never has been the case and likely never will be.

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