When the NFL and NFLPA decide to get off their lazy backsides and negotiate a new CBA, there are a few changes I would like to see included for the overall good of the game. I’m no accountant so I am not going to go into suggesting how they need to split the $9+ billion pie cent by cent. I feel like I speak for several fans when I tell those involved that the longer this game of chicken goes on, the only people who will lose are the owners and the players. When the new deal is done, these are some changes I would like to see:
1- Marquee (Superstar) Player Exception (Replacing Franchise Tag)
Here in Australia, our version of the MLS, the A-League, has a system in place that lets teams recruit big name players by paying them outside of the salary cap. My proposal for the NFL marquee player system would be aimed at allowing teams to retain their big name stars when they are off contract more effectively than the Franchise Tag. The system I’m putting forward is essentially the same as the A-League’s but with a focus more on star retention rather than recruitment.
So the system is essentially designed to replace the existing Franchise/Transition Tag procedure which the players have decided they don’t like at all. When a player is off contract, instead of being slapped with the franchise tag which leaves little to no wiggle room for any sort of negotiations and even less long term security for the players who get slapped with the tag. When a player is off contract they are designated as a team’s marquee player but they must meet the following criteria (this is all assuming the old 4 years to Unrestricted Free Agency is in place).
- Each team is only allowed to have 1 marquee player on their roster at any one time.
- If the player is re-signing with the team that they played last season on, he must have at least 3 full years of service if they are with the team that they made their first appearance with (i.e. team that drafted them or if they are an undrafted player whoever they played their rookie year with).
- A player who is an unrestricted free agent with 5 or more years in the league can be signed as a marquee player for any team. If a player with 3 or 4 years is signed as a restricted free agent or acquired via trade they can sign a new deal as the marquee player.
- The pay of the marquee player is set at a specific amount each year across the league at say 15% of the previous year’s salary cap. The salary is also paid outside of the team’s cap to prevent one player doing a Peyton Manning/Tom Brady and taking up a large chunk their team’s salary cap. There are no signing bonuses given out to the marquee player and it all comes in the form of game checks to give the team some protection.
- In terms of contract length it is able to be between 3 and 6 years which can be negotiated between the team and the player to provide a combination of long-term security and injury protection.
2- Short Term Injured Reserve
When a player goes down with a long-term injury that doesn’t quite rule them out for the season, a team is left with one of two options, put them on season-ending injured reserve to clear a roster spot or deal with being short a player for a long time. The incident which stands out for me as a Patriots is Fred Taylor who was out for a large part of last year but was still carried by the team meaning that they went into some games with only 2 running back options.
The change that should happen is teams will have the ability to place players on this short term injured list for 4 or 6 weeks and sign a free agent for the time the old player is out. Replacement players will be given a set salary. The upside is it will give free agents a chance to market themselves for further employment options later in the season. There will be a few conditions applied to how the system will work.
- Replacement players cannot be paid more than the player they are replacing on the roster.
- Players on the short term injured list cannot come back early, when their time on the injured list ends they must be placed on IR or back on the active roster, they can only be on there once.
- The replacement player may be signed to the active roster once their initial contract is up but from that point on they will be like any other player on the roster.
So those are just a couple of ideas for now and the longer the CBA remains unsolved, the more ideas I will be coming up with. As I get more & more frustrated with the lack of activity I will come up with more stupid suggestions.
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