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July 2020 Newsletter | Vol. 1

Pittsburgh Steeler OLB Bud Dupree and OLB Shaquil Barrett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have both reportedly filed grievances against their teams for classifying them as, just what they are, linebackers (franchise tag/$15.8 million). The reasoning behind these moves by management is simple. If they listed either player as a defensive end ($17.8 million), the franchise tag value is increased by approximately two million dollars. The franchise tag currently pays a player the average, per year, of the top five at his position. It is a gray area that has long been at the top of discussions between player agents and team officials. For example, DE Frank Clark of the Kansas City Chiefs in all reality plays the same position as both Dupree and Barrett. Clark also wears a LB number and yet the Seattle Seahawks placed the DE franchise tag on him before trading him to Kansas City in April, 2019. What gives? All three of these players are going forward and rushing the passer in the majority of their snaps on defense. In my opinion, this confusing designation really does need to be cleaned up. Exact guidelines need to be more transparent so all parties can clearly disseminate the dollar projections. The analytical information is all there, let’s use it. If a player has his hand on the ground more than he operates from a two-point stance (on the snap) he’s a DE. Short of this, it is likely that a longer-term contract would get ironed out between player and team, somewhere in the middle, depending on the total of the yearly averages. Stay tuned.

The Washington- “Whatevers” are still a bit of a dumpster fire. Owner Daniel Snyder has always been under the microscope for management styles, questionable hires, questionable free agent signings, and, in general, the lack of making any progress towards getting his franchise back to a Super Bowl, something that hasn't happened since 1992 and never under Snyder’s ownership. The National Football League is just better now but many wonder why the Redskins haven’t done better since he purchased the team in January, 1999. The Redskins are an NFL staple, an old guard franchise with tons of history. Their fans are passionate. Unfortunately, this organization has been unstable and at times irrelevant, since Snyder took over as the owner.

It sounds like we are about to get a name change that is way overdue. Fingers crossed. Now, we hear of minority owners wanting to sell their portions of the team. This news has far-reaching tentacles and, of course, is politically charged. After all, its D.C.

All of this with the Redskins comes right before training camp is scheduled to open during America’s first pandemic in just over 100 years.

Because I’m a football guy, I can only see this from the standpoint of “how does this effect our team”? Head Coach Ron Rivera was the first to comment and was quick to make his own wishes known.

Why the head coach as the point person for this? Perhaps because they don’t have a general manager and the owner was reportedly on vacation. Rivera commented on how he and Snyder had discussed this several months ago and even considered some possible name changes. There were a couple names that he even “liked”. Roles were always blurred with this organization under former leadership/structure so it had me asking questions. Who exactly is in charge of what in that organization? Why would Rivera be involved in these decisions?

My first thought was let’s allow the marketing people with the Redskins, the league office and Nike handle this with a little input from the Native American Indian side. Rivera’s job should be coaching and leading those players on his roster as well as his assistant coaches, just like the other 31 NFL franchises. Instead, he’s distracted by things totally out of his lane. Here’s the difference I see after further review. Ron is a much-needed respected voice for a team that has lacked just that. From a public relations standpoint, it makes sense to have him involved.

I think Rivera is a very good coach and I don’t want to see the positive vibes that had been generated within the organization as a result of his hiring starting to evaporate. Hopefully, once training camp starts the continued positivity and structure within the organization can emerge and whoever is running the “Whatevers” will let him just coach.

You may have seen the NFL tossed a grenade into the court of the NFLPA last week by suggesting that players set 35% of their 2020 salaries in escrow to help defer the cost of revenue declines in what we all hope is the upcoming season.

It took players less than a New York minute to respond with basically a WTif?

Here is the rub. The NFL salary cap, which is a hard cap, unlike baseball who can go over the cap as long as the offending teams pay a luxury tax for going over, is going to go DOWN significantly for 2021, because as we all know- league revenues will be WAY down. Each year, the NFL cap figure is determined by team revenues from the prior league year. I’m no math major but I could surely see that $200 million per team (this season’s cap) being reduced down to $150-$160 million per team for next year.

This is not good for players, for owners, or really for anyone in the game. Teams will have to comply and that means reducing payroll. Said another way, cutting players. As an example, you might have star players like Russell Wilson playing with minimum salary guys or Pat Mahomes playing with no defensive stars.

This is bad for the game. Patrons who watch on TV or in person don’t want to see mediocrity. I think the ask of 35% by the owners is just the start of how to deal with this cavernous gap in revenues.

I could see the league being willing to borrow against future cap increases to reduce the deficits they will face next year and/or the following year. Their goal is to level out the cap so the building of teams and the overall quality of play does not suffer. I’m buying a ticket to watch this part of the negotiations. The clock is ticking.

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