NFL Resistant to Power Plays

Compared to NBA, NFL teams have leverage Andrew Brandt

Print This December 13, 2011, 06:01 AM EST

No Full Guarantees

NFL contracts have guarantees in the form of bonuses and future salaries, usually in the early portion of the contract. There are no fully guaranteed long-term NFL contracts. Thus, NFL teams can “get out” of bad deals with less pain than NBA teams, even with the NBA’s new amnesty clause.

Note: there is nothing in the NFL CBA that prohibits fully guaranteed contracts; nor is there anything in the NBA CBA that mandate fully guaranteed contracts. Guarantees are the function of leverage and precedent, and NFL teams continue to hold advantages in both.

Player Leverage Game Plan

The only avenue of NFL player “power plays” are orchestrated by agents to create enough angst in NFL teams’ front offices to cause a reaction.

A typical agent game plan (I have seen it first hand several times) is the following:

  1. Call the front office expressing discontent with the player’s contract, comparing him to similarly situated players with bigger contracts;
  2. Absent action, request to approach teams about a trade and new contract;
  3. Absent action, threaten to withhold the player’s services from practices or games, and/or
  4. Have the player give less than full effort – sometimes in more brazen ways than others – in order to force the team to respond.

Even with these moves, the team still has leverage. The player can be disciplined and potentially lose salary and signing bonus from his contract. The reputation as a disruptive player can harm his value in a career with an extremely short life span.

There is one mantra that sums up the business of the NFL between teams and players: there are so many players, and so few jobs.

While the NBA wrestles over who has the ultimate leverage, the NFL continues along with owners securely in control.

Follow me on Twitter at adbrandt.

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