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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Seahawks lose on ruling

    ESPN.com news services

    SEATTLE -- The Seahawks must match the guarantee provision in the $49 million, seven-year deal offered to All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson by the Minnesota Vikings if the NFC champions want to keep their transition player.



    Special master Stephen Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania law professor who serves as the final word in many key contractual disputes, ruled against Seattle, saying a provision guaranteeing all of the $49 million in an offer sheet Hutchinson signed with Minnesota should he not be the team's highest-paid offensive lineman is valid.

    "The Seahawks lost," NFL Players' Association general counsel Richard Berthelsen said Monday. The hearing was held in Philadelphia.

    The Seahawks had until midnight ET Monday to match the Vikings' offer or lose Hutchinson to Minnesota.

    Berthelsen attended a two-hour hearing Monday morning in Philadelphia on the matter.

    The Vikings' seven-year offer, which Hutchinson signed on March 12, included $16 million guaranteed. It would be the richest deal ever given to a guard. And Monday's ruling means it just got richer.

    The Seahawks had argued Monday morning that because they have recently re-negotiated Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones' $54.5 million, seven-year contract by adding an eighth, voidable year, Jones' team-best lineman deal now has an annual value below that of Hutchinson's offer.

    After the re-negotiation, Jones' annual base salary would dip to $6.81 million -- just below Hutchinson's $7 million annual average if Seattle matched Minnesota's offer. The Seahawks argued Monday morning they should not have to guarantee the rest of Hutchinson's new deal.

    Berthelsen said special master Stephen Burbank did not elaborate in his ruling.

    But Berthelsen said the decision validated the NFLPA's stance that the conditions at the time Hutchinson signed the offer sheet with the Vikings are the conditions Seattle must match -- meaning Hutchinson wasn't the highest-paid Seahawks linemen then, so Seattle must guarantee all $49 million of the Vikings' deal to match it.

    "They wanted to put in additional language to make it from any point from now until the end of the 2006 league year," Berthelsen said. "That is contrary to the intent of the wording that was in the contract.

    "And the special master agreed."

    The Seahawks did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.


  2. #2
    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    This special master is truly an idiot. Basically this makes the transition tag completely worthless. All a team has to do now is find something like the Vikings found and make it impossible for the team to match under the same terms.

    I'm sorry Seattle, you guys got royally screwed by this decision. What a complete joke.

  3. #3
    BBlades89 Guest

    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    This is a bad precedent to set, I agree.

  4. #4
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    The precedent here is that teams must be very careful with the transition tag and make it impossible for a 'Viking clause' to be found.

    Whilst I have sympathy, I don't have much for a franchise which threw tons of money at Grant Wistrom.

    In any case, it's stupid amount of money for a guard.

    Reap what ye sow........................................

  5. #5
    BBlades89 Guest

    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    The old President Whitsitt is the moron who threw that money at Wistrom (I like Wistrom but he's not worth that much). The new FO with Reinfeldt and Ruskell wouldn't have done that.

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    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Pang
    The precedent here is that teams must be very careful with the transition tag and make it impossible for a 'Viking clause' to be found.

    Whilst I have sympathy, I don't have much for a franchise which threw tons of money at Grant Wistrom.

    In any case, it's stupid amount of money for a guard.

    Reap what ye sow........................................
    With this ruling it is making it impossible to prevent a "Viking clause". Who is to say you can't say something like so and so has to have a higher salary than the tight end?

    The point is that this contract was made so that it was not equal to both teams at the time it was created. It is not right and I can't believe that it is somehow allowed.

  7. #7
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by tanus
    Basically this makes the transition tag completely worthless. All a team has to do now is find something like the Vikings found and make it impossible for the team to match under the same terms.
    Because the transition tag was getting so much play prior to this, right? I think the last time I remember it being used was when the Bengals tagged Takeo Spikes and then let him walk to the Bills three years ago.

    Anyways, teams could already make it extremely difficult for the initial team to match by doing such things as front-loading the contract, so I guess I don't see how this is all that different or horrible. A team making a tagged player an offer that is hard to match isn't new to the process; in fact, it's the exact way you'd go about trying to sign a transition tagged player. Why would the Vikings not do everything they could to try and ensure Seattle couldn't match the offer? And why is that strategy somehow new to how you'd negotiate with a transition tagged player?

    The ultimate kicker is that we wouldn't even be having this discussion if the Seahawks would have ponied up the additional $600K of difference between the transition tag and the franchise tag, because no one would have signed Hutcinson to an offer sheet and give up two first round picks in the process. So I guess I don't feel all that sorry for Seattle when they're the ones who put the transition tag on Hutch in the first place.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by tanus
    With this ruling it is making it impossible to prevent a "Viking clause". Who is to say you can't say something like so and so has to have a higher salary than the tight end?

    The point is that this contract was made so that it was not equal to both teams at the time it was created. It is not right and I can't believe that it is somehow allowed.
    It's not impossible, you just have to pay more than the other guy. If you really want to match something this insane you can, but it will screw up your cap for sure. You can argue all you like about the ethics of this, but it wasn't illegal and it doesn't make future transition tags impossible to defend.

    Loopholes can be closed, but at the end of the day it's all about the cash. If Minnesota are willing to throw that much cash at a guard, good luck to them and their new HC.

    Teams have to willing to match and then exceed the cash on the table. The Vikes were willing to escalate this to a level the Hawks wouldn't match.

    Hawks really want to keep Hutch, get him signed or franchise him. Risks run both ways here.

    I personally feel that if a franchise is willing to throw around stupid money (Wistrom) then I'm not going to worry too much if it comes back to bite them (Hutchinson).

  9. #9
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    The precedent doesn't really bother me that much just because the only way a player's agent is going to negotiate a deal like that is if he would really much rather prefer to leave than stay. If the NFL really wants to prevent this from happening, they just have to put a stipulation in the rules about it. It isn't immutable just because of one ruling. I don't think we'll see this happening all the time because often there is incentive for a player to want to give his current team a fair chance to match.

  10. #10
    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    Because the transition tag was getting so much play prior to this, right? I think the last time I remember it being used was when the Bengals tagged Takeo Spikes and then let him walk to the Bills three years ago.

    Anyways, teams could already make it extremely difficult for the initial team to match by doing such things as front-loading the contract, so I guess I don't see how this is all that different or horrible. A team making a tagged player an offer that is hard to match isn't new to the process; in fact, it's the exact way you'd go about trying to sign a transition tagged player. Why would the Vikings not do everything they could to try and ensure Seattle couldn't match the offer? And why is that strategy somehow new to how you'd negotiate with a transition tagged player?

    The ultimate kicker is that we wouldn't even be having this discussion if the Seahawks would have ponied up the additional $600K of difference between the transition tag and the franchise tag, because no one would have signed Hutcinson to an offer sheet and give up two first round picks in the process. So I guess I don't feel all that sorry for Seattle when they're the ones who put the transition tag on Hutch in the first place.

    im not saying you shouldnt make it difficult for the other team to match. but if they are going to match it then it should be identical.

    i am saying its crap that the contract would be different if seattle decided to match the offer sheet that hutchinson signed. how you guys cant see a problem in this is beyond me. there was no possible way for the seahawks to get hutchinson under contract for the same deal that the vikings were getting him under contract.

    now if the seahawks should have used the franchise tag versus the transition tag is a whole different debate (i feel they should have used the franchise tag). they should have a fair chance to match the offer either way. in this case, they clearly werent.

  11. #11
    Fat Pang's Avatar
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by tanus
    im not saying you shouldnt make it difficult for the other team to match. but if they are going to match it then it should be identical.

    i am saying its crap that the contract would be different if seattle decided to match the offer sheet that hutchinson signed. how you guys cant see a problem in this is beyond me. there was no possible way for the seahawks to get hutchinson under contract for the same deal that the vikings were getting him under contract.

    now if the seahawks should have used the franchise tag versus the transition tag is a whole different debate (i feel they should have used the franchise tag). they should have a fair chance to match the offer either way. in this case, they clearly werent.
    I know what you're saying but all the Hawks had to do was match the Vikes tender. What if the Vikes hadn't inserted the clause about highest paid lineman on the team and merely tendered at Walter Jones level?

    This is essentially all that they've done.

    The argument is that the clause in itself is a monetary escalator, because the tendering team is guaranteeing that the tagged player will be the best paid guy in their team if he agrees to move and this has a quantifiable monetary value which is essentially the level of the tender.

    And the tagging team can still match it if they have the cap room.

    I do agree with your earlier post that there's no way to avoid this escalator because if the tendering team is intent on throwing stupid sums of money around then the tagging team is in a bind.

    But no more so than releasing a player and letting him test the open market.

  12. #12
    tanus is offline Registered User
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Pang
    I know what you're saying but all the Hawks had to do was match the Vikes tender. What if the Vikes hadn't inserted the clause about highest paid lineman on the team and merely tendered at Walter Jones level?

    This is essentially all that they've done.
    That would have been completely different. In that scenario the Seahawks wouldn't have had to guarantee a 49 million dollar contract.

    I'm not arguing the huge sum of money. That is perfectly fine. My issue is that it needs to be fair for the other team that tagged the player, otherwise, whats the point? Just because the transition tag is hardly used doesn't make a bit of difference. It is there for teams to use and the Seahawks got hosed by it.

    I dont see how this type of contract will be allowed in the future. I'm all for creative contracts and such but when a team has to fully guarantee a contract because of a clause that is physically impossible for them to avoid, there is a huge problem.

  13. #13
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Well, as we speak the NFL look like they're going to review the whole business of the transition tag.

    Hutch's agent Tom Condon commented that the current siutation meant that "Anything not prohibited is allowed".

    Look for that to change if the NFL can get it past the NFLPA.

  14. #14
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    Quote Originally Posted by tanus
    but if they are going to match it then it should be identical.
    The language of the contract is identical. The contract states that if Hutchinson is signed and is not the highest paid lineman on the team which signs him, then his entire contract is guaranteed. That's the same for the Vikings and the Seahawks. It just so happens that he would be the highest paid lineman on the Vikings, so they wouldn't have to deal with the guarantee. Seattle would since they already have a highly paid lineman.


    Quote Originally Posted by tanus
    there was no possible way for the seahawks to get hutchinson under contract for the same deal that the vikings were getting him under contract.
    Incorrect. In fact, according to NFL analyst Adam Schefter in this article, the Seahawks still could have matched Hutchinson's contract if they wanted to.

    Let's get this out in the open now. The contract the Vikings offer did not make it impossible for Seattle to match. It made it difficult for them to match. They would have had to pay Hutch a boat load of money and make it all guaranteed. That's not an ideal situation, but they could have done it, and chose not to.


    Quote Originally Posted by tanus
    they should have a fair chance to match the offer either way. in this case, they clearly werent.
    Um, how did they not have a fair chance? You're making no sense. The language of the contract made it difficult to match, but that's the entire point of making an offer to a franchise, transition, or restricted free agent - you make an offer that will be hard for the initial team to match to try and ensure you get the player. The bottom line is they could have matched if they wanted to, but because of the details of the contract, chose not to and will likely spend their cap money continuing to improve their team in other areas.
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  15. #15
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    Re: Seahawks lose on ruling

    The Vikings and/or Hutchinson's agent made a very smart move, and got what they wanted as a result. There was nothing unfair or unethical about it. They just made an offer that Seattle didn't want to match.

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