The NFL Players Union and its executive director DeMaurice Smith are tossing around the C-word – collusion.
According to reports Smith authored a memo to player agents, the intent of which was basically to sniff around to see if the league’s owners where in cahoots to keep free agent salaries down.
“We have heard reports of a concern that teams are working in concert to ‘peg’, ‘rig’ or ‘set’ market prices on player contracts. If you believe or have information that the teams have been colluding during this free agency period, you have a responsibility as an agent of the NFLPA to come forward and share that information with us.”
Hey D-Smith, if you want to cast stones, kindly turn towards the mirror. The guy you see is the one who orchestrated a new collective bargaining agreement – one which includes salary cap figures that increase IN TOTAL by an estimated $5M over the first 5 years of the new CBA ($120M to $125M…see image below from SportsBusinessDaily.com).
Does the term “paint yourself in a corner” come to mind?
Due to cap constraints, rapid degradation in veteran play at certain points in their respective careers and the importance of finding value in the draft, successful teams like the Ravens have begun to set the standard by which rosters should be managed.
Because of the game’s brutal physicality and the related injuries, quality depth is vital to remaining competitive. Yet with such tight cap constraints smart teams would be foolish to invest too much in players not playing quarterback. So they seek value and value is often found when teams remain patient.
Smart teams don’t set market prices. They leave that to the Browns and the Dolphins of the world. Instead smart teams wait until the market settles.
Visionary GM’s don’t throw outlandish figures at high profile free agents in order to win the offseason Super Bowl. They look for corrections in the market and wait for value to surface in the wash.
Just look at what Ozzie Newsome has accomplished this offseason.
He willingly let Paul Kruger go and land his $41M deal with the Browns, one that carries a 2013 cap figure of $8.1M.
By comparison, Ozzie has landed Elvis Dumervil (a better player than Kruger), Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, Michael Huff and Rolando McClain. Collectively these players will represent $7.257M of the Ravens 2013 salary cap.
Now it would be naïve of me to suggest that Ozzie knew that Dumervil would fall into his lap. He didn’t! But Dumervil does represent the fruit of Ozzie’s patience. He let the market settle and suddenly value reared its pretty head.
In this league of copycats, why wouldn’t other franchises emulate a team that just won the Super Bowl, has appeared in the AFC Championship Game 3 times since 2008 and is the only team in the league to obtain a post season dance card in each of the past five seasons?
I don’t think so.
Copycatting patience? Oh yeah!
Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications, said in a written statement. “Anyone seeing collusion in this market is seeing ghosts.”
D-Smith should stop whining and fishing with his call to player agents.
He might be better calling Ghost Busters!
Brian McFarland contributed to this article