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NFL reality in the middle of the coronavirus: Players should write now and hope for a better deal later

There are some very simple tips that the NFLPA should give to any player currently sitting on a franchise tag: Sign the. Sign it now. Don’t move.

The economic climate in the NFL has really cooled, even with some buildings around the league starting to open up in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The market has stalled – if not completely closed, except in the case of some superstar quarterback negotiations – and there is a strong feeling among the agent community that the well has dried. Owners do not want to spend even a little right now, much less dig deep to add external talent.

Right now it is the seller watch out. Bad time to be a free agent still out on the street. The bird in the hand is the way to go. The year 2020 has not been good for many, and NFL players are no exclusion.

No one I spoke to expects that things will change in terms of spending habits until there is more clarity on what the 2020 season will actually look like. Wallets have largely been abandoned indefinitely in the NFL̵

7;s front office. Sure, things can still work well for Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson – but they are extremes of generational QB talents with significant leverage. They are not the rule, and for guards like Brendan Scherff or Joe Thuney, who put in a $ 16 million bid, they were smart to sign the bad boy for a while back.

And in the almost certain case of games played without fans (maybe every game played without fans and maybe not a whole season of 16 games, too), agents do not predict that the owners are really open for business on large transactions until there is financial security for which players will be paid during a fanless and possibly compromised season.

“Show me the last deal of all the consequences negotiated in the NFL,” said a prominent NFL agent who has several quality players still on the open market. “Nothing is being done. It’s over. In addition to some quarterbacks, you won’t see big contracts even being negotiated until training camps are open in the summer.”

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I usually agree with all this … so get the franchise offers secured and not give the owners a chance to revoke the tag. As this can have major financial consequences for many of the players involved. The climate is simply not favorable for implementing mega deals, to the extreme, and even the middle class – older but potentially influential pass rushers like Cam Wake, Clay Matthews, Everson Griffen, Markus Golden and Mike Daniels left on the street – are being hard pressed.

Jadaveon Clowney, who sat on the label a year ago but had the right to be tagged in 2020, taken off the table as part of his trade from Houston to Seattle, is still the face of this dilemma. Having tagged him with a 20 percent increase over his 2019 salary would have already been a problem, but in hindsight, sitting on a tag is the best case for the last top pick.

The word throughout the agent community is that the allegedly “super-lucrative” deal he rejected from the Cleveland Browns would have been worth $ 12 million at its base. That’s far from the over $ 20 million a year that Clowney originally wanted for a long-term deal. It’s also well below the $ 16.8 million franchise tag that fellow defenseman Matthew Judon just signed with the Ravens last week. It’s not even close, actually.

Agents and players need to be aware of the talent that is still on the street and the potential alternatives the NFL team needs to add to potentially affecting cheap labor; In this league almost everyone can be replaced and the balance of power is with the owners. As for Judon, his SportsStars reps certainly examined the landscape when they chose to advise his client to sign his tag.

“One hundred percent,” agent Brian Mackler, who represents Judon with James Ivler and Jerard Roggio, told me last week. “We had two guys that I thought would be tagged this year – DJ Humphries, the left tackle for Arizona who could get the deal before the tag, and then Matt (Judon). And if you talked to me back in February we would have had a completely different talk .

“But we’re in a different world now and I agree with you, Jason, there are a lot of good footballers out there, and the economy of the National Football League will probably change this year from what it was before.”

The cold reality is that if the corporation had for some reason raised the tag – they were instead working on a compromise with Judon about whether he should be designated as a defensive end or linebacker for the purpose of the tag – he may have been forced to take a financial hit. Again, the corporations are in Super Bowl-or-bust mode and are not in a position to lose their best off the pass rusher, but had they pulled the tag, managers who I spoke to estimated Judon might be looking at an $ 8- $ 10M payday. And that’s the same range several execs I talked to evaluated for Clowney, given the current state of the NFL.

Is Clowney ending more than the nearly $ 17 million that Judon just secured? I highly doubt it; maybe in the summer, if a top team loses an elite defender to injury. Otherwise, I think the market has spoken. It never seemed likely that the Chiefs could reach a long-term deal with defensive tackle Chris Jones, and as in the case of Baltimore and Judon, they probably hire that player another year to try to win a Lombardi with him before moving on to a megadeal elsewhere. Both teams have a lot of young talent to keep unlocking after making such a good draft.

It is a first-world problem. A good for the law to have. As for the players, especially now, it’s time to bank on security, make sure you’ve locked in those wages and hope for the best deal possible when the new financial standards for professional sports in your COVID-19 era hit home for the NFL and the NFLPA as well.

As we see in baseball, it is far from easy to sort through these new tax rules and much work remains to be done from the health and safety standpoint, even less the collective bargaining point, before these game checks begin to be deposited directly into all accounts.

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