For those unfamiliar with the general NFL contract structure, it’s worth a reminder that NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed.
It’s why we build in caveats when writing up news of these deals such as “Player Y’s deal is worth up to $X hundred million” or “Player A’s contract comes with $X million in guarantees.” All NFL contracts are built the same way. And save for one glaring exception, no multi-year contracts to veteran players are fully guaranteed.
That glaring exception is Deshaun Watson’s deal with the Browns. And that might be a sticking point which led to the NFLPA taking a first step toward making changes.
Kalyn Kahler of The Athletic reports the NFLPA is claiming collusion via a formal allegation that league owners are colluding to keep “certain quarterbacks” from getting fully-guaranteed contracts. It’s a doozy of a read, and I’d suggest you give it a click:
Owners like Bisciotti feared that Watson’s deal would set a precedent, and that the next quarterbacks up for new contracts would push for fully guaranteed deals as well. But the starting quarterbacks up next, Las Vegas’ Derek Carr (April), Arizona’s Kyler Murray (July) and Denver’s Russell Wilson (September) didn’t get it done in their deals. And most notably, Lamar Jackson elected to play out the final year of his contract with the Ravens, because he couldn’t get what Watson got.
And now, the NFLPA is alleging collusion among owners as the reason for it.
These are lofty allegations that the NFLPA will need to work hard to prove in order to prove their point. For what it’s worth, quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson have been given long-term deals from their respective teams since the Watson deal was agreed upon last spring. But neither of those quarterbacks was given fully guaranteed deals. Meanwhile, the most notable quarterback deal that hasn’t gone down yet is that of Lamar Jackson. That is notable since Jackson reportedly wants a deal with full guarantees, but the Ravens haven’t given it to him. If anyone deserves one of those, it is Jackson.
I’m not sure where this collusion claim goes from here. The NFLPA clearly believes there is some wrong-doing here and is using this moment as a launch point. We’re a few years away from caring about Chicago’s QB1 getting an extension worthy of a fully guaranteed deal. But that won’t keep us from monitoring this situation as it develops.