Wednesday whys: Little action on trade front

Why is the trading deadline always a lot of smoke and little fire?

There are lots of reasons. The timing of the deadline – Week 6 in a 17-week regular season – is early and doesn’t facilitate trades. The NFL wants to discourage the “rent-a-player” scenario that occurs in the NBA and MLB, where the trading deadlines are much further into the seasons. Teams don’t have great feels about where their teams are and where they will be down the road.

In addition, there are traditionally only a limited number of teams that can take on large salaries for incoming players in the middle of seasons. Most teams would have to adjust existing contracts to trade for new ones.

As to salary cap acceleration, in the past it was always pushed into the next year, so trading a player with an unamortized bonus was not a problem in the past. This year, however, the rules have changed to require all acceleration on contracts for trades and releases into 2009, the year before an uncapped 2010. That’s another reason preventing the trading of frontline players, save for the Rams using $1.8 million of cap room in their trade of Will Witherspoon to the Eagles and the Bucs burning $11 million of cap room in trading Gaines Adams to the Bears.

Speaking of the Bears...

Why did Jay Cutler do an extension for only two seasons?

The two-year extension for Cutler with the Bears -- first reported here by our Brad Biggs -- secures Cutler for four more seasons following this one. That’s a good amount of time for the Bears and will allow Cutler at least one more shot at another extension, assuming his career progresses.
After acquiring Adams, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, from the Bucs for four years and less than $5 million remaining on the contract, the Bears made a move on Cutler

In Cutler, they acquired the 11th pick in the 2006 draft with the up-front cash obligation of that contract having been paid by the Broncos. With three years and approximately $20M remaining on that deal, the Bears addressed it. With a $12M non-guaranteed roster bonus in 2011, a year that could potentially see players locked out, Cutler and agent Bus Cook took steps to insure their future against not receiving that bonus.

The reports indicate $30M of new money in the two additional years, meaning an “new-money” APY (average per year) of $15M, as predicted here Monday, with an overall APY of $10M and a guarantee of $20M, much less than recent deals for Eli Manning and Philip Rivers but matching the deal given last year at this time to Cutler’s new NFC North rival, Aaron Rodgers.

We’ll have further analysis on this contract when details come in. With almost three years remaining on his deal, Cutler was addressed. With less than two years remaining on their deals, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have not been addressed. Manning will be soon. As for Brady, it’s not so clear, although he has taken on a new role in labor-management relations, specifically...

Why is it a big deal that Tom Brady has become an alternate NFLPA player representative?

Anything done in the area of player-management relations by an A-list player like Brady is a big deal. In the midst of the most important collective bargaining process in quite some time in the NFL, it’s especially significant.

Certainly, one of the more outspoken and powerful owners in the NFL on subjects involving the business of football has been Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He is often the go-to guy for the league in commenting on labor issues and was the first to toss out the trial balloon of adding two more regular-season games to the schedule, an idea that was quickly rebuked by then-Patriot Mike Vrabel. Having Brady as a semi-active participant in the process will provide Kraft with a superstar ally on the field and a friendly adversary off it.

It’s rare for a player of Brady’s stature to get involved in labor relations, although it makes sense. On the issue of the enormity of rookie contracts, Brady has watched contracts of players such as JaMarcus Russell, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez move past his own, one that expires following next season. Now Brady can be involved in a process that seems to have momentum to do something about the disproportionately large contracts at the top of the draft.

Brady also represents a welcome change for the union in having a player of his status involved in the process. Many player reps get involved for the wrong reasons -- a free trip to Hawaii in the winter is one of them -- but the sense is that Brady would not be involved, even as an alternate, if he were not serious about this.

Brady’s focus is on leading the Patriots, but the union will certainly hope he will, at the appropriate time, become an active participant in not only his contract extension but theirs. Speaking of the Patriots...

Why did the Patriots release and then immediately re-sign Tully Banta-Cain?

Tully Banta-Cain (TBC) was playing under a minimum salary benefit (MSB) contract, a tool that allows for older veteran players to make the appropriate minimum salaries with a lower cap charge. TBC has six years in the league, requiring a minimum salary of $620,000, which he was making, and a cap charge of only $460,000 -- the minimum salary amount for a player with two credited seasons.

MSB contracts, however, cannot be renegotiated during their one-year term, requiring the team to wait until they expire to renegotiate. This frustrated me as a contract negotiator since many of these players proved their worth beyond the MSB and we were unable to reward them until they hit the open market.

The Patriots found a way around that with this release and re-sign. Instead of making $620,000, TBC is now earning a prorated $650,000, or $420,588, and the Patriots have fully guaranteed that amount. The fact that this deal was not extended past this year makes me believe the Patriots are not done renegotiating with him and now will be able to work on an extendable deal.

In releasing TBC prior to today, he was not subject to waivers, a process that starts after the trading deadline. Had they waited until today to release him, any team could have claimed him and his MSB contract.

Some nifty maneuvering to retain and reward a player the Patriots have been pleased with, although I would think this would draw the attention of the NFL Management Council.

And for a little more Patriots...

Why would the Patriots release Joey Galloway so early in the season?

The Patriots seem to sign a few veterans every year for mid-range contracts and hope most, if not all, pay off. This year’s crop included Tully Banta-Cain, Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden and Galloway. Obviously, Galloway did not work out, and after trying hard to trade him by Tuesday’s deadline, he was released.

As a vested veteran on the roster at the beginning of the season, Galloway is due the balance of his $1.15M salary as termination pay. That amount, which he can claim in February from the Patriots, is $744,000. Along with the $600,000 signing bonus that Galloway pocketed, his Patriot earnings total $1.34M for his seven receptions, or almost $200,000 per catch.

Galloway can also double-dip and get paid by any other team that may sign him for the rest of the season.

A nd for this week’s pet peeve Why of the Week…

Why do networks, when showing a quick highlight package of a game, start by showing players warming up?

When I got to see the highlights of last weekend’s biggest game, the Giants-Saints, I watched 20 seconds of Drew Brees and Eli Manning throwing warmup passes before a highlight package that showed two plays of the game. Although it was nice to see a close-up of Brees, our NFP spokesman for fantasy football and a weekly guest on our podcast, more action and less set-up is needed in these compressed highlight packages.

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