Now that we’ve debated the impending demise of football as we know it, it’s time to formulate a plan to save the game we love. Here’s my idea on how to do that.
First revenue sharing and the salary cap have to be addressed. IMHO, revenue sharing is the cornerstone of the league’s success. It levels the playing field for the small-market teams. It has to remain in place. The salary cap is also a good idea. However, to reach an agreement, it may be necessary to do some massaging of the cap. Actually, formulating a formula for establishing the cap would be a good idea. If this formula were part of a new CBA, the CBA could be for a longer term. If the players demand more in this issue, the owners should make it clear that if they give up more, it will be at the expense of the retired players’ benefits. Let the current players explain to the retired players why this was necessary.
In regard to free agency and the franchise tag, and RA tenders, there needs to be some changes. The “Franchise Tag” has to go, and the two first round draft pick price for signing a tagged player. Each team should be able to designate up to 3 players as “Super Star” players. If a “Super Star” player becomes a FA, the team that signs him need not give up more than one first round draft choice. That should promote a lot more movement. If Adrian Petrerson were available for only a first round pick, do you think there might be a few interested teams? If the league feels that’s not sufficient compensation, the league could award compensatory picks between the first and second rounds of the next draft. This compensation could be a bargaining chip in negotiations to get a CBA. If the players are adamant that there be no compensation, what will they give the owners? Players not designated “Super Star” could sign with other teams without the signing team losing draft picks.
The draft has to be restructured. College players picked in the draft must be given a choice of two signing options, either a multi-year year contract at a fixed salary (structured according to selection position; five year contracts for first round choices, 3 years for second & third round choices, and 2 years for all others), or signing a one year contract at a smaller per-year salary, and then filing to reenter the following year’s draft. As an example, say Andy Dalton were drafted by Seattle in the second round, but really didn’t wish to play there. He could sign a one-year deal for the second round value, and then reenter next year’s draft. This would force teams to make fairly quick decisions on whether or not they were satisfied with a drafted player, and if satisfied, get the player to sign a contract extension ASAP.
A plan similar to this might still not satisfy the players, but it could be a starting point for successful negotiations.