With Darrele Revis, Chad Ochocinco, Vincent Jackson, and Marcus McNeil all making noise about their current contract situations, I thought that it would be a good idea to consider the perspectives of players and teams. As we all know, athletes, especially the four mentioned above have a right to make considerable amounts of money because of the hard work and dedication to the game of football they displayed. This is where it gets difficult. Once players have been drafted by an NFL team, they feel less pressure to accomplish their dream of making it to the pros, but then the pressure to perform hits them, especially if you're a first round pick. For me, it is hard to understand why an athlete would want to hurt their team because they aren't paying them enough money. Sure, when you're putting your body on the line for a team, you're going to want a lot of money, but since when is $1 million not a lot of money. Instead, we have players sitting out of mini camps because they are unhappy with their current contract situation. We now have teams spending money like our government is right now.
Here is, both a player's and a team's view of a possible contract negotiation, displayed by me, to the best of my ability.
Player: "I have worked most, if not all of my life to work on a certain set of fundamentals, sacrificing my body to the pain and suffering of one of the toughest games in the world. I have achieved my dream of being drafted, but now, I want to win a championship with any team, not just the team that I was drafted by. I will always have a special relationship with the team that drafted me, but now that my first dream has been accomplished, I want to win a championship. With the CBA coming up next off-season, and the current unstable economic times, I want to get a new deal with my team right away (notice that all of the players mentioned above, are on teams that are play-off contenders). If I can't get what I want by the end of this off-season, I'm going to have to go into the regular season unhappy and worried, because if I get injured, then there is no way that the team will offer me the large contract that I want, using the injury issue as an excuse. If I don't play to the best of my ability, then I also may not get the contract that I want.
I know that by staying out of mini-camp, I am hurting my team, therefore diminishing their chances of entering the play-offs, but I want the comfortability of playing with a contract that I know will protect me even if I do get injured or for some reason, don't play to the best of my ability, which, will give me a higher chance of being able to avoid just that."
Now, obviously, this isn't exactly what goes through the minds of every player that wants a new contract, but I believe it is pretty close. There is another way to handle contract negotiations with a team, and that is displayed by Elvis Dumervil. Not only does he come into camp without his new contract, but by doing so, shows that he trusts in the team and in the system, which, if I was the owner, which thankfully I'm not, shows me that he wants to play and is a team player.
Team: "We really don't want to lose any of our star players unless they don't return any of our phone calls (I'm looking at you Jay Cutler). It is in our interest that we sign our star players and all key contributors to a deal that both sides can agree with, because winning a championship is first and foremost with us and hopefully the player. While we care about the player, we also need to keep in mind that obeying the player's demand might set an unwanted principle in which all of our key contributors come to us wanting the same kind of deal. Unfortunately, that precedent has been set by other teams around the league, offering their key contributors ridiculous amounts of money (Darrele Revis wants a contract that resembles Nnamdi Asomugha's, but goes even higher). In order to establish who's in charge, we must put our foot down to stop the bleeding that some of the other teams have created. We also understand that players want new contracts because of the current economic troubles and the CBA, but they need to understand that we are also affected by the crisis at hand.
It also wouldn't hurt if the players would show trust in us, by coming to mini-camp and believing that we'll come up with a solution that both sides can agree with. Unfortunately, this has become a real problem in the NFL and upsets many other teams because, as an employer for any other job, they would expect their workers to do their job to the best of their ability. But here, we have players who decide to do just the opposite of that, skipping, voluntary, but helpful exercises that help build teams and champions because of the team chemistry it can possibly create."
I'm sure that that isn't how many teams would phrase it, but I am sure that it would be close to that. All of these contract negotiations are mostly based on trust and fortunately, the Broncos have a loyal player in Elvis Dumervil, who has, thankfully, decided to show up at mini-camp.
To answer the question whether the NFL is becoming a player's league, I highly, highly doubt it, because teams will almost always hold the leverage when it comes to contract negotiations. Thanks for reading and I can't wait to read your comments.