Not long ago, we mentioned that the NFLPA was advising the Minnesota Vikings’ rookie class to not sign the rookie contracts that they had been offered, citing some language that they felt was in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It turns out that it wasn’t just the Vikings’ rookies that were involved, and the NFLPA now might be looking to take further steps to do something about it.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, the NFLPA is weighing whether or not to file grievances that could potentially void over 160 rookie contracts. Given that only 253 rookies were drafted this past April, that’s a pretty significant chunk of those deals, though it isn’t clear whether the contracts signed by undrafted free agents could potentially be affected as well.
"The union has undergone a comprehensive review of rookie contracts and language in those contracts for this year," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told ESPN on Wednesday morning. "The CBA explicitly prohibits players from some of the language that we have seen the clubs attempt to impose in these deals. We are considering all of our options to protect the players and enforce the CBA."
According to Graziano’s article, the language includes things as clauses that require players to submit to multiple offseason physicals at the team's request (the CBA only permits two), “automatic repayment" clauses that allow teams to take money for things such as fines and tickets directly from the paychecks of those players, and language dealing with the “legal tampering” period of free agency.
Again, this sounds like something that could potentially affect the majority of rookie contracts. . .as many as “25 or 26” teams could be affected by this, per Graziano’s piece for ESPN.
You would think that these sorts of things would be easily worked around, and we haven’t heard anything about this sort of thing taking place in past years, so it appears that it’s a relatively recent phenomenon. In any case, I wouldn’t expect this to prevent Dalvin Cook, Pat Elflein, and the rest of the Vikings’ 2017 draft class from being on the field in Mankato when late July rolls around.