Everything that we've heard for the past couple of days has been that the end of the NFL Lockout was going to happen very soon and that the negotiations were on the fast track. However, as legendary poultry feather tycoon Winston Wolfe is always quick to tell us. . .let's not start pluckin' each others' chicks just yet.
The players, apparently embiggened by their success in getting the league to drop the issue of "right of first refusal" for free agents and their concessions on the rookie wage scale (which I mentioned yesterday), are apparently asking for even more. They're looking for $320 million in unpaid benefits from the uncapped year of 2010, according to ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen (via Pro Football Talk). They also want a rule that says that teams can only use the franchise tag on a player one time rather than being able to use it over and over again, much like the Oakland Raiders have done with Nnamdi Asomugha in recent years.
The franchise tag thing I can understand. While it's nice for players to be able to get the big money, if a team doesn't express any interest in negotiating a long-term deal with them, they should have the right to be able to seek that out. The $320 million, however, seems like the players might be trying to bite off a little bit too much. I don't think it's likely that the negotiations are going to blow up after all of this, but with everything we've seen this off-season, you never can tell.
In addition, according to Pro Football Talk, the named plaintiffs in the "Brady" case could be looking for career exemptions to the franchise tag. In the last anti-trust lawsuit filed against the league, the players that actually put their name on the complaint were exempt from the franchise tag, with Reggie White being the most prominent example. The following players are the named plaintiffs in this case:
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees
San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson
New England Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison
New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel (who has retired since then to become the linebackers coach at THE. . .dramatic pause. . .Ohio State University)
Manning and Jackson had the franchise tags applied to them by their respective teams before the lockout hit. Mankins has been franchised before, and Brees' contract is up after the 2011 season. If you thought that Peyton Manning was going to get a gigantic contract before, can you imagine what he's going to get if the specter of the franchise tag isn't hanging over everything?
Oh, and if he's open to coming to Minnesota. . .okay, I know that will never happen. Just throwing it out there.
EDIT: After further review (thanks to our friends at Stampede Blue), those restrictions to the franchise tag for the named plaintiffs in the Brady case might not take effect until 2012, depending on who your source is, so those players listed above could potentially be subject to it for this off-season.
But the Peyton Manning pipe dream was fun for five minutes, wasn't it?