NFL “Contracts”

As most of you know, I’m fairly new to the world of sports intricacies. Until this week I didn’t know a single solitary thing about football contracts. I still know almost nothing, and this post will surely reflect both my level of knowledge and my research on the subject (zilch).

This Jason Peters stuff is puzzling.

Jason Peters

Um….please go to work.

There are two things that are blowing my mind about Jason Peters “holding out”:

1. How can a person under contract demand a new contract? Isn’t that….the point of a contract? Two parties agree on something and then they write it down on paper, sign it, and then both parties are CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED to fulfill the terms of the contract. It’s a good system. I myself work with a contract, and while I don’t love every little aspect of my contract (seriously BPO, I should be able to wear open-toed shoes for concerts), it also benefits me in a variety of ways, the most important being that I can’t just be fired for no good reason.

Which brings me to the second reason my mind is blown…

2. Apparently, football players can just be fired for no good reason. Now, I assume a really good football player wouldn’t be fired for no good reason, but still, NFL contracts are not guaranteed. This is confusing to me. Isn’t the point of a contract that all parties are CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED to fulfill the terms of the contract? Don’t these football players have a union? Let me tell you, this crapski would NOT fly with the American Federation of Musician. No siree.

Apparently, in the NFL this is how things are done. Players and management are constantly renegotiating in the middle of contracts. This system seems quite silly, but what do I know? I’m but a simple violist. So, I really don’t know what to think about the Jason Peters thing.

All I know for sure is that someone needs to sit the NFL down and (slowly) explain (in simple terms) how contracts are supposed to work. I don’t think they get it.

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15 Responses to “NFL “Contracts””


  1. 1 Anne July 29, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Crazy spending, crazy contracts, poor communication between parties, not so great revenue… I know you’ve just finished your rookie year of hockey fandom, but this is basically the same situation the NHL was in which caused the lock out. Look for NFL teams to start declaring bankruptcy and then brace yourself and hope the NFL can come to terms with a CBA before Texas secedes from the nation.

  2. 2 bbC July 30, 2008 at 1:28 am

    What concerns me the most is why Andrew Peters always poses at that unflattering angle in every photograph I’ve seen of hin…

  3. 3 Ryan July 30, 2008 at 3:25 am

    Okay,

    First of all, the market in the NFL is (obviously) a bit different because of the rules decided by the NFL and the NFLPA in the collective bargaining agreement. It is this way for a number of reasons (which are more complicated than I can understand), but one big reason is exactly the problem Jason Peters has here.

    The fact of the matter is that football requires a completely different type of athlete than hockey. Lineman are huge and the phrase “freak of nature” is actually a compliment. With that distinction comes risks, and sometimes people come to camp out of shape or completely useless. (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-steelers-hampton&prov=ap&type=lgns)

    There are other reasons, too. NFL teams need that flexibility to cut players because of new players performing better than vets, players not performing to their contracts, or simply because of space.

    The nature of the draft makes this necessary as well. Because there is no minor league system for football teams, GMs draft players with the intent that they make the roster the next year. This means that 5-7 players will be (hopefully) cut by September.

    With that flexibility, however, comes the benefits players get. It may be uncouth, but re-negotiating a contract or demanding an extension also comes from the nature of the game. Unless you are a high draft pick (1st or 2nd round) you won’t see big money until your second or even third contract based on performance.

    In Peters’ case, he was signed as an undrafted free agent to play tight end. Last year he made the Pro Bowl at left tackle, one of the most important positions on the field. This is the equivalent of finding the Rosetta Stone in the clearance bin at Barnes and Noble.

    Peters’ contract simply does not pay him what he is worth, and therefore he sits out until he gets what he wants. It may seem strange within a hockey mindset, but at the same time it would be odd to see Andrew Peters suddenly score 30 goals and be 80% at the faceoff dot.

    It’s a bit of a hyperbole, but that’s about what Jason Peters has done over the past few years. He will get his money and be back, and so for now we as fans just have to take it as the nature of the beast.

    Sorry if that was long winded, but I hope it gave you a better view of the whole thing.

  4. 4 Amy July 30, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Peters’ contract simply does not pay him what he is worth, and therefore he sits out until he gets what he wants.

    I get that, but at the same time, it would have made the situation a lot better if he would have shown up to camp and let his agent negotiate a deal while he’s on the field. It would show that he’s not only in it for himself, but also in it for the team.

  5. 5 katebits July 30, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed response, Ryan. I never intended to suggest that Peters shouldn’t get his raise. My point was that from an outside perspective, the system seems ridiculous, and to serve that point I took a willfully ignorant approach. But I do appreciate your explanation and it did shed some light. While I understand why Peters is hold out, i also think that if behaving like a petulant child is the most effective way to get a raise in the NFL, then the league should consider inventing a more dignified process. It sounds to me like Peter DOEs deserve a raise.

    While it wasn’t my intention at the time, I realize in retrspect that this post was heavily influenced by the radio I heard yesterday in which Schopp and the Bulldog were trying to compare this situation to office scenario.

  6. 6 Chaz July 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

    This shows why I like hockey. Individuals “take one” for the team. Yes, Pommerdoodle was underpaid last year and this year. He signed a contract so he’ll show up and play and next year the Sabres will reward him. hint, hint Darcy.

    =)

  7. 7 Matt July 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Look for NFL teams to start declaring bankruptcy and then brace yourself and hope the NFL can come to terms with a CBA before Texas secedes from the nation.

    Uh…. Can we somehow force the NFL to go into a long lockout for that specific reason?

  8. 8 JB July 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Umm my eyes are bleeding with whats that sport dumb-ball?

  9. 9 Heather B. July 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t really understand the ins and outs of football – Ryan’s point that there’s no minor league system is a good one and one I never would’ve thought of for example – but I just don’t understand how a sport that’s as dangerous as football can get away with not guaranteeing contracts. I hate the idea of a guy holding out when he still has so many years on his contract left but if I’m Peters and I’m feeling underpaid and I know I’m screwed if I get a career-ending injury, yeah, I’d consider holding out too. But if I’m the Bills, there’s no way I renegotiate with a guy who isn’t in camp because it sets a terrible precedent. It seems like things would favor shorter contracts – players don’t get stuck playing for years below their value and teams don’t get stuck with players who’ve been bumped by younger talent. It’s definitely a weird system.

  10. 10 Katebits July 30, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Yeah, that’s all I’m saying Heather! Is holding out the only way to get a deserved raise in the NFL? Cause that’s lame!

  11. 11 Ryan July 30, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    The system is ridiculous, but that’s the way it has developed. The problem with attending camp and having a contract negotiated during that time is that it just hasn’t worked that way, and if a player reported, management would have no reason to revise his current deal. The precedent was set some time ago, and so teams now have no choice. I blame Martin Havlat.

    By holding out, a player is hurt financially (fined every day he’s not there), while the team is hurt by having an important player out of the picture. The easiest way to solve both problems is by re-negotiating, and then everything is okay. At its very nature it is immature and counterproductive, but so far that’s the best way they find it’s done.

    The thing is, training camp and preseason is going the way of the dinosaur. When first introduced it made sense: get players back into playing shape. These days training is a constant thing, very few players report to camp out of shape, and so “showing up” to camp is a mere formality.

    I really don’t mean to preach or imply anyone was wrong, I agree that it does seem strange and would never work in the real world. Football is the one game where things like this happen because the revenue has increased dramatically over the past few years. The more money involved, the more silly things happen and are somehow deemed justified.

  12. 12 Schnookie July 30, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    The NFL also has a comically weak Players’ Association, so it’s kind of every-man-for-himself for the players.

  13. 13 Shari July 30, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I’m holding out too. I refuse to accept any more job offers until summer is over, damn it! I deserve no more working weekends and a deeper, darker tan!
    Speaking of contracts, Heather, isin’t it time you had a talk with Darcy and find out if Teppo’s comming back to me..us?!

  14. 14 Heather B. July 30, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Shari, I just said to Mark that I wondered what the hold up was. It was really sounding like a done deal. I’ll see if I can get Darcy on the horn tomorrow.


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