We’ve had a couple of different stories recently about the situation that the Minnesota Vikings are facing with the contract of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. That’s because the story keeps changing.
After Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network said the other day that Bridgewater’s contract will “toll” (or get rolled over into the 2018 season) if he is on the Physically Unable to Perform List for the first six weeks of 2017, I thought that was pretty much that. However, a new voice. . .this one belonging to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (or, more accurately, a source he’s spoken to about the situation) seems to think that might not be the case.
Here’s what Florio says he’s heard about the situation.
A league source tells PFT that the NFL’s Management Council has interpreted the relevant language of the CBA in past cases to require the player to spend the entire year on the PUP list in order to toll the contract. PFT has asked both the NFL (multiple times) and the Vikings whether that contention is accurate, and there has been no response from either the league or the team.
Now, I’m not entirely sure why the NFL’s Management Council would interpret it that way. Again, we go back to Article 20, Section 2 of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, which says the following (we’ve quoted this passage so many times that you probably know it by heart at this point):
Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.
As many have pointed out, as does Florio in his article, if Bridgewater starts the season on the PUP List, his contract will automatically “toll,” per the CBA language, because a player that starts the regular season on the PUP List must stay there for the first six games of the season. Florio isn’t sure why a member of the NFL’s Management Council would interpret the passage from the CBA to mean something different from what the black-and-white language says, and quite frankly neither am I.
If the NFLPA doesn’t like the contract tolling language as it’s currently represented in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. . .well, they can always bring it up when it comes time to re-do the CBA in 2020. But, as it stands now, this is what they agreed to, and that’s how Collective Bargaining works.
Now, as Florio points out, the differences in the interpretation of the rule could throw a spanner into the relationship between Bridgewater and the Vikings if it isn’t handled properly, but you would think that both sides would have an understanding of the situation. Yes, Teddy Bridgewater caught a hell of a tough break that can’t reasonably be considered to be his fault. However, one bad break for one player isn’t enough to attempt to throw the CBA out the window, either. Again, if the NFLPA wanted players to have to spend a full year on the PUP list in order for the contract to “toll,” then they should have fought for that during the last CBA negotiations in 2011.
It’s probably going to be next offseason by the time things really get rolling on this situation. Hopefully, by that time, the situation will be clearer and cooler heads will prevail.