With the big ticket items like revenue sharing and the rookie wage scale worked out, NFL owners and players are cruising to a deal, likely to come this week. However, a fight that was once as bitter as this one won't be put to bed quite so easily. Today's hurdle comes from often disgruntled San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson and Patriots OG Logan Mankins, two of the named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust case.
Tied up by the capless year's six-year rule for free agency, Jackson and Mankins missed free agent windfalls last year. Both players held out and missed a substantial part of the season. In the spring, both players were hit with the franchise tag, a move that pays them a hefty one-year salary, but postpones unrestricted free agency and the unrestricted cash that comes with it for another year. Per Jason Cole at Yahoo, both players are asking to be unrestricted free agents or receive a $10 million payment as part of the settlement in the antitrust case. Will this hold up the deal? Maybe, though holding up the deal for the benefit of two players would be, um, unpopular...tar and feathering unpopular.
The Reggie White case in 1993 made named players immune from the franchise tag per the settlement. The other named plaintiffs in this case don't face the same potential impact as Jackson and Mankins for various reasons, i.e. they're quarterbacks, under contract or a rookie draft pick.
And why is resolving this so difficult? Precedent. The league doesn't want to open up a can of worms around the franchise tag, which would impact two of its most high profile stars in Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
So the NFL will just pay Jackson and Mankins and the others, right? Maybe. According to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe, the NFL "won't back down" in the face of these demands.
Say it with me, bad 70s rock fans, "headed for a show dowwn"...again.