Friday new$ and note$
Darnell Dockett finally got his contract. After two years of expressions of desire for a new deal through his agent Drew Rosenhaus, through his Twitter account and through more traditional media, Dockett has finally been rewarded -- with a four-year extension beyond his existing two years -- for his solid play through 81 consecutive starts and two Pro Bowls.
Pay no attention to reports that the extension could have a total value of “up to $48 million;” that usually is a puffed up number that includes the achievement of all incentives and escalators. The key number is that Rosenhaus shot for was $30 million guaranteed. It's not the level of our friend Albert Haynesworth's $41 million guarantee, but it will do. Ironically, $30 million was the number that Drew negotiated with the Cardinals for the total value of a four-year deal for Edgerrin James in 2006. James played three years of that deal for $25 million on it before being released.
Dockett’s deal clarifies the Cardinals’ priorities over the past couple of years. They were over a barrel in 2008 due to the cumbersome rookie contract of Larry Fitzgerald and ended up renegotiating with Fitzgerald for hat was, for that time, a stunning four-year, $40 million deal that he is now halfway through. They also gave Adrian Wilson a strong deal for a player his age last year, and now have rewarded Dockett. Left off that priority list were Anquan Boldin, traded to Baltimore, and Karlos Dansby, allowed to leave in free agency to the Dolphins.
We’ll now see if the Cardinals shift some of the money going to Dockett from the pocket of Matt Leinart. Reportedly on the trade market, Leinart will have to rework his existing contract. Leinart’s 2010 number of $2.485 is a bit high for a backup, but the real concern would be inheriting a $7.36 million number for 2011. Any team acquiring Leinart would need that reworked so that they would have the ability to keep him past this year.
Trading or saving?
An interesting issue involving low draft picks is occurring now after a couple of trades of these picks by the Rams, Redskins, Eagles and Cardinals.
The trades have captured the attention of the NFLPA due to one of the many rules in place in this unique uncapped 2010. Although most of the rules have worked to the players’ detriment, this rule that helps the players, albeit in relatively nominal amounts.
The rule states that if a drafted rookie is released, that team is required to pay 85 percent of that player's salary into a pool that is then distributed to remaining rookies in February based on the 2010 playtime. With the language of the rule directed at the drafting team, trading the player to another team that then releases him would appear to negate the rule and the union is looking into possible circumvention.
The problem for the NFLPA is proof. When representatives of the teams are asked about these trades, they will all say the same thing: we thought the trade was good for our team and the player would have a chance to help us. If pressed, they may admit to knowing the rule and perhaps even discussing it but maintaining that it was not the reason for the trade.
Nonetheless, an interesting topic involving players usually ignored.
Seeking Legacy seeding
Speaking of ignored players, last week a letter was sent to Commissioner Goodell from the NFLPA Director of Former Player Services, Nolan Harrison, and the Chairman of the Former Player Board of Directors, Cornelius Bennett, with a proposal.
As another rule of this uncapped year, NFL teams are saving a collective $320 million – an average of $10 million per team – due to their not being required to fund many player benefits in 2010. The union has proposed putting that money to use to increase former player pension increases and benefits.
The “Legacy Fund” idea follows up a letter to the Commissioner earlier this year from Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, appealing on behalf of the many former players with physical, emotional and financial challenges.
Former players certainly have a compelling emotional argument to make for increased benefits but it is unlikely to happen in this context. The teams’ $320 million windfall from this uncapped year is not something they are going to easily give up until – if at all – the bargaining process is completed and the future is clearer.
It appears that seeding the Legacy Fund idea will wait.
Enjoy a safe and happy holiday weekend...
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