Time to dip into the mailbag and some questions about the recent round of collective bargaining between the NFL and its union and the Albert Haynesworth-Washington Redskins imbroglio:
What do you think of this talk about an extended season in the latest collective bargaining negotiation session?
I think it is the game-changer in the negotiation of a new agreement.
The owners have asked for a reduction of -- depending on whom you believe -- anywhere from nine to eighteen percent from the current deal with the players. The issue of playing a couple of extra games, if accepted by the NFLPA, could be a tradeoff to the owners to bring the equation back to at or near where it is today.
In other words, say the owners agree to not ask for any reduction in the share of revenues that the players receiving. In return, the union would agree to playing the extra two games. Sources on both sides of the bargaining table tell me this issue could be the one that breaks the thaw in negotiations.
What do you think of the NFL having Mark Murphy of the Packers -- a team you know pretty well -- speak on the issue?
It was strategic in two ways :(1) Murphy is a former player and can show some empathy with current players, and (2) Murphy is CEO of the Packers, the only team in the league to share its financials with the public. The Packers annual report will be coming out this week and my sense is it will show lower profits than in recent years, supporting the owners' arguments for a rollback in the CBA.
What is going on with Albert Haynesworth and the Redskins?
As JaMarcus Russell has become the poster child as to what is wrong with the rookie compensation system, Albert Haynesworth is fast becoming the poster child for what is wrong with free agency in football. The Redskins got caught up in the chase last year and signed Haynesworth to a stunning contract, with $41 million guaranteed and $48 million in the first four years. They have already paid him $32 million and now have switched defensive schemes, much to his dismay.
Would the Redskins trade him after giving him all that money?
I would not. It would compound the mistake of giving him $32 million only to have another team reap any benefit of his services. The contract -- with only $9 million remaining on the guarantee -- is quite reasonable for an acquiring team.
Is there a scenario in which it would make sense to trade Haynesworth?
Yes, in two cases: (1) he returns some of the $32 million he has received. Good luck with that, or (2) have the acquiring team take on another bad contract -- that of Clinton Portis and his $6 million guaranteed is the obvious choice -- to make it happen.
Do the Redskins have any chance of recovering money from Haynesworth?
It will be a challenge, as the time for that would have been before they handed him $21 million in March. They may be trying the same theory the Raiders are using to recover money from Russell: that when the contract was adjusted with a superseding bonus -- as both Russell's and Haynesworth's were -- the full guarantee did not accompany the restructure. The NFL Management Council is advising both the Raiders and Redskins in their attempts to salvage these disastrous contracts.