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Todd Gurley: NFL players deserve guaranteed contracts, could strike to get them

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  • Todd Gurley: NFL players deserve guaranteed contracts, could strike to get them

    Rams running back Todd Gurley wants all contracts to be guaranteed in the NFL and he says players might have to strike in order to ge them, TMZ reports.

    It's been a heated debate for years with NFL players like Eric Winston saying they're so serious about making NFL deals more like the NBA and MLB and they're ready to call for a work stoppage to force owners to pay up.

    The current NFL collective bargaining agreement ends in 2021 -- and Gurley made it clear he's ready to heed Winston's call when the time comes.

    Over the weekend, NFL offensive lineman Russell Okung also spelled out his argument for guaranteed contracts:

    "Considering football’s level of brute, immanent physicality, high turnover as well as the short life cycle of its participants, it would seem to me that NFL players are in the most need of fully guaranteed contracts."

    NFL players have gone on strike before but, the last time they actually missed regular season games to get owners to meet their demands was way back in 1987.


    Possibly, but Todd is in a much better position financially to wait out an actual strike than lots of other guys who would have to hold out/strike on far less money .. One can't blame them for trying though ...

  • #2
    I hate the whole concept of striking, but I agree with his basic point....contracts should be guaranteed. I'm sure there's a ton of nuance that I'm not considering, but just seems to me the whole point of a contract is "You will work X time/event period, I will pay Y amount." Done and done.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by HUbison View Post
      I hate the whole concept of striking, but I agree with his basic point....contracts should be guaranteed. I'm sure there's a ton of nuance that I'm not considering, but just seems to me the whole point of a contract is "You will work X time/event period, I will pay Y amount." Done and done.
      Actually, as someone who practices labor and employment law, I can tell you that guaranteed contracts are exceedingly rare in the "real world." Most employees are employed at-will, meaning they can be terminated with or without cause at any time. Those who are fortunate enough (or have sufficient bargaining power) to have contracts with a set term typically can be terminated before the end of that term "for cause" (defined in many different ways on a contract-by-contract basis). The consequences of an early termination by the employer (payout of term, severance pay, no consequence at all) varies, again relative to the bargaining power of the employee.

      In sports, of course, guaranteed contracts are more common (i.e. MLB, NBA) but, in football, they could be cost prohibitive for teams given the number of players who become physically unable to perform through the end of the term (and injury is typically not a basis for the team to get out of paying in a guaranteed contract scenario).

      With the amount of guaranteed money players (particularly better-than-average players) get from salary and roster bonuses, I don't see a major inequity in how NFL contracts are structured. That doesn't mean that there can't be adjustments to balance the risks a bit more evenly, but its not as one-sided as the players would have us believe.

      I will also say that, if the top players truly want things to move in the direction of greater guaranteed money, they are not doing themselves a favor by using the holdout technique so readily when they feel they have "outplayed" their deals. By doing so, they invite teams to ask "why should we guarantee you a salary when you feel entitled to disregard your contracts when it suits you?"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post
        With the amount of guaranteed money players (particularly better-than-average players) get from salary and roster bonuses, I don't see a major inequity in how NFL contracts are structured. That doesn't mean that there can't be adjustments to balance the risks a bit more evenly, but its not as one-sided as the players would have us believe.
        Aren't signing bonuses "guaranteed money"? Reachable incentives which offer increased pay for increased level of play seem (on the face of it) to be fair to both sides. The whole salary issue is extremely complicated, and will likely never be within my comprehension.

        I will also say that, if the top players truly want things to move in the direction of greater guaranteed money, they are not doing themselves a favor by using the holdout technique so readily when they feel they have "outplayed" their deals. By doing so, they invite teams to ask "why should we guarantee you a salary when you feel entitled to disregard your contracts when it suits you?"
        That certainly seems a fair point.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by MauiRam View Post

          Aren't signing bonuses "guaranteed money"?
          Yes, but they only account for a percentage of the total value of the contract. What is being proposed by some of the players are fully guaranteed contracts, which would include all salary through the end of the term.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post

            Yes, but they only account for a percentage of the total value of the contract. What is being proposed by some of the players are fully guaranteed contracts, which would include all salary through the end of the term.
            Ouch! So if they get hurt, or play horribly, grope women or worse they still get paid? Or are those conditional issues that would be addressed somewhere within a contract and invalidate the contract if such transgressions occurred.

            If a free agent is signed for big bucks for 3 years, if the team that signed him wants to cut him at the end of the first year, they'd still have to pay him for the entire 3 years?

            I don't follow baseball or basketball much these days, so I am not familiar with NBA or MLB salary guidelines.

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            • #7
              They can certainly do as they please, but if I'm watching something about football players on strike, it's starring Keanu Reeves and that hot chick who played his cheerleader/bartender girlfriend. I ain't got time for that sass. No way no how. You can count me out.

              If that happens, I'll be unplugging from all things football, and won't read a lick of what's going on unless it's something that says the games are back on. I won't need to know who's saying what and how the negotiations are going, and media politics on it all. Nope nope nope

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              • #8
                Guaranteed contracts in football will not come to pass in my or anyone else's lifetime. The chance of injury is so great, owners would take a bath, and there's no way they'd lend themselves to that kind of deal, nor should they. The ONLY way such a concept could ever be considered would be if a buyout clause made it manageable for ownership- and I can't see the Players' Union ever agreeing to that, since it would defeat the purpose of a guaranteed contract.

                In a perfect world, contracts would be determined thru a Meritocracy- which means a helluva lot of players in all your major sports would be terribly disappointed. My unsolicited advice to Gurley and every other pro player is "be thankful for what you have, get what you can get and understand that the high risk nature of your business doesn't lend itself to guaranteed money over the long term.

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                • #9
                  I'm with Gurley on this. That $9,376,550 guaranteed portion of his rookie contract is just not enough to take care of his family should something happen to him.

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                  • #10
                    As another attorney that spends a decent amount of time negotiating employment agreements, i point out the following. Aside from the "for cause" element, employment agreements rarely provide full payout for a fixed term. Example. An executive signs a five year contract. Employer retains the right to terminate employee at any time for any reason (assuming its not discrimination or some other violation of law), but will typically owe the employee a negotiated severance period, which severance period typically includes a non-compete period (except in california). If you terminate someone for cause, which typically means misconduct of some kind, not just lousy performance, the employee typically doesnt get severance. Thus, in the corporate world, employment agreements are guaranteed to the extent of a negotiated post termination severance period, but not for the full term of the agreement.

                    Ramming speed to all

                    general counsel

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                    • #11
                      If the NFL is honest with their books, and the salary cap is based on a rather high percentage of NFL revenue, and all teams spend their whole cap amount, any deal would require some players to lose $$ to pay for the guaranteed contracts. After paying Sam Bradford the last big bucks rookie contract, I am not interested in changing the rules to have a new set of winners and losers, again.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by R8rh8rmike View Post

                        I'm with Gurley on this. That $9,376,550 guaranteed portion of his rookie contract is just not enough to take care of his family should something happen to him.

                        Well, ju$t enough to get by though. - (^_^)


                        Therein the potential "contract dispute(s)"....
                        Last edited by RealRam; 1 week ago. Reason: Emoticon

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                        • #13
                          The article cites something that Okung, who is on the NFLPA executive committee, said regarding guaranteed contracts. Here is his entire Twitter thread on the topic...


                          (NFL GUARANTEED MONEY THREAD)

                          I will never understand how billionaire team owners have convinced the public that the players, who put their bodies on the line every week and make less than 50% of league revenue, are the “ungrateful” ones.

                          Considering football’s level of brute, immanent physicality, high turnover as well as the short life cycle of its participants, it would seem to me that NFL players are in the most need of fully guaranteed contracts.

                          Many argue that trying to compare the league-player dynamic in the NFL with other sports is apples to oranges. Yes & no. League revenues are skyrocketing, a monster media rights deal is on the horizon, the business of football will never be the same.

                          It’s up to us, the players, to decide if we want league ownership to finally respect us as partners. Truth is, there is NOTHING preventing agents from negotiating a fully guaranteed salary for an NFL player (see Kirk Cousins deal).

                          Only problem is that this rarely happens... BUT it doesn’t have to be this way...

                          Players want guaranteed money? Great! Rewrite the CBA. That’s right, we need an overhaul not a revision or an extension. Why?

                          For starters: the current CBA uses an antiquated revenue accounting method and salary cap rules take up a significant part of our collective bargaining agreement.

                          Salary caps don’t help players!!

                          Moving on.

                          One part of ownership’s reluctance to give players guaranteed money is the structure of our cap system, the “cap” consists of an intricate series of accounting rules that does not fully reflect actual transfers to the pockets of players.

                          Historically, the league has done a masterful job inserting language into the CBA to justify getting out of a “guarantee” or contract. Most headlines on the first day NFL free agency are misleading, even for players who are household names.

                          Superlatives attached to “highest paid player” is good for the media, but leaves many players wanting regarding actual cash by the finality of their deals. Press is nice but cash is better, especially with risk associated with our line of work.

                          It’s only fair that a player sign a contract and expect the other side to honor that, right? What ever happened to “Show me the money?”

                          I’ll continue... consider guaranteed money in our current system. Fractions of a team’s cap can be exhausted or locked in by what’s known as “dead money” or a payout to a player because of the form of guarantee...

                          at the time of signing, thus limiting the amount teams are willing to guarantee. The “funding rule” gives management the flexibility to tell a player they are SOL.

                          This rule had more of a purpose in the past as their were issues with owners making payroll but with billionaires clamoring to be owners and the bids of media rights being north of two billion, is this rule still relevant?

                          With all that said, there are additional judgments to make regarding plenty of legal language in the CBA that works toward the detriment of players and in favor of multi-billionaire owners. If players want change, demand it.

                          I'll keep going because I'm having so much fun.

                          Salary caps are one of several mechanisms that serve multi-BILLIONAIRE sports team owners to control and restrict the wages of millionaire players.


                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Salary caps don’t help players!! No they don't, but they do help prevent the richest billionaires from simply outbidding the others and "buying a winning team" There doesn't seem to be a great deal of negative sentiment from veteran players toward rookie salaries and slotting according to when a player was drafted, and the position that draft pick plays. I am not sure of the minimum percentage a team is required to spend on player salaries these days - veterans or rookies. Anyone know those figures/percentages?

                            I believe teams are required to spend X amount of dollars on player salaries - and conversely not above the designated cap for each year. I can see players trying to get the cap percentage bumped up, as it seems the cap goes up every year. When the current cap expires, the players and owners will sit down and have another go at a revised CBA. The "fat cat" players will be able to weather an extended strike, the others (majority) will not. Hopefully common sense will prevail over pure unfettered greed (on both sides of the table) enough to prevent a strike.

                            The billionaires are not going to give away the farm, and players surely are aware of this. Common ground is available somewhere in between the two sides. As the pie gets bigger, the players should get a slice that is commensurate with the growth of the pie. The players make a lot of noise as to the sacrifices and injury risks they face and those risks are real. However, when it comes to an individual player negotiating his particular contract, I don't see much concern for his teammates let alone the rest of the players in the league.

                            General Counsel or Avenger, if either or both of you have any suggestions that are even remotely close to a "win - win" for players/owners please share with us. Clearly this is a subject we are all interested in.

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                            • #15
                              The only point i will make is that the collective bargaining agreement is not forced on anyone. If the players dont like its terms, they dont have to play (ie dont have the vote to ratify the collective bargaining agreement) and can effectively strike. That might cause the owners to change their negotiating position. All negotiations are on some level a function of leverage. The owners have more of it than the players because they can better afford to take the losses as the players have short careers. What gets lost many times in this discussion is that "fair" is a relative and subjective term. The players want to scream bloody murder about guaranteed contracts, certain terms of the collective bargaining agreement they dont like and other injustices. However, did you ever see a player complain when they get paid a big signing bonus and either get hurt or simply fail to perform to expectations? Sure, players like aaron donald are badly "underpaid." Many players are overpaid as well. In the real world, employees are are valuable as what they did for the company very recently. If you dont perform, you get fired and you dont get paid. You arent guaranteed anything. The fact that football players have a short career is a red herring. That is the career they have chosen. If players dont like it, they dont have to play. They can also buy their own team and give guaranteed contracts if they can raise the money and want to do things differently. That is their choice. Unequal bargaining power between people that own companies and employees is not new and its not changing anytime soon unless people want a socialist state, and i certainly am not trying to turn this into a political discussion.

                              Players today are about a thousand times better off than they were before free agency. A lot of progress has been made from the players perspective on the revenue sharing side. I appreciate that the players would like more, and there is no reason they shouldnt try for it, but i dont think either side gets to vote in favor of a collective bargaining agreement and then complain about some of its provisions after the fact. The collective bargaining agreement is a long complicated legal document. You cant really pick one provision and say its unfair. The agreement needs to be looked at taken as a whole, because taken as a whole its a good deal for both sides. That does not mean that every provision is a good deal for both sides.

                              To summarize, the players can choose to strike (ie breach and deal with the damages), not sign a new collective bargaining agreement, make any demands they want in the next round of negotiations, same as the owners. We can then see where the breaking point is for each side. We can talk about billionaires all we want, but i think that misses the issue in many respects. Go ask any small business owner in this country trying to make a living how difficult it is to hire and retain quality employees and how those small business owners feel when their workers dont perform and whether they want all their workers to be guaranteed wages for a period of time regardless of the level of performance. See how that works out for the economy....

                              Ramming speed to all

                              general counsel

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