Last week, I offered my opinion on which side had the most leverage in the Jets/Packers negotiations regarding Aaron Rodgers. Shortly after posting the rant, a friend asked me to opine on the Lamar Jackson situation as it relates to leverage. I think the “Jackson situation” is more complicated than the “Rodgers situation” because it has more moving parts. As things stand now, all that has to happen is for the Packers and Jets to agree on compensation and Rodgers will be the QB for the Jets in 2023. As things stand now, there are multiple upon multiple possible actors for the “Jackson situation”, so the contingencies begin to pile up quickly. Nevertheless, I will give it a go.
Looking only at the Jackson versus Ravens stand-off, the Ravens have all the leverage now. They have made a contractual offer that allows Jackson to seek a deal anywhere in the league AND THEN that offer allows the Ravens to sit back and analyze if they want to match that deal or not. If “not” then the Ravens get two first round draft picks automatically without any dealmaking necessary from the club that signs Lamar Jackson. Oh, and if Jackson does not get a deal to his liking from another club, that gives Jackson a choice:
- Play for the Ravens in 2023 and earn $32M for his efforts knowing that the team is likely to put the same flavor of franchise tag on him in the next off season – – OR – –
- Take the “LeVeon Bell Route” and sit out the 2023 season.
If Jackson sat out 2023 and made it known he would do the same again, he would create lots of leverage for himself. However, I think that is the only way he is going to achieve that status. His “problem” now is that when he talks to one of the QB-needy teams in the league about a contract, the price that the QB-needy team has to pay is amplified:
- The QB-needy team has to give Jackson something that Jackson finds sufficiently rewarding – – PLUS – –
- The QB-needy team has to give the Ravens two first round draft picks.
Things get trickier if indeed one or more QB-needy teams begin to entertain the possibilities of signing Jackson. For example, I would not call any of the other three AFC North teams “QB-needy” but if one of them got involved in talks with Jackson, the Ravens might feel a lot more pressure than if Jackson’s negotiations were with a team in the NFC South.
Jackson can gain a small bit of leverage by slow-playing his negotiations with other teams until after the NFL Draft which will take place from April 27 through April 29. In doing that, he deprives the Ravens from knowing if they need to draft a QB in this year’s Draft and he diminishes the current value of those two compensatory first round picks the Ravens can get because the second one would be pushed out until 2025. That is not a huge advantage for Jackson, but it is something.
There was an interesting wrinkle in this matter that was reported in the last week or so. Supposedly, someone who is not Jackson’s agent – – remember, he is representing himself in negotiations with the Ravens and being advised by his mother – – contacted other teams. Jackson said specifically that this man was not negotiating for him and that the stories were the sports equivalent of fake news. The NFL league office must have believed the reports – – or had sources of its own – – because it sent a letter to all 32 teams reminding them that this person was not a certified agent approved by the NFLPA and therefore teams could not deal with him in any way. The interesting wrinkle to me has nothing at all to do with whether or not this guy was “negotiating on behalf of Jackson” or not. What I find interesting is the concept of a “certified agent” in this labor-management negotiation.
I am not a historian nor an economist but my recollection from American history classes is that the Congress passed anti-trust laws that sought to break up what were described as “combinations in restraint of trade”. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was aimed at mainly at railroad monopolies but as I recall it also banned conspiracies to restrain trade/commerce. The outlawing of anti-competitive agreements was a big deal leading to the passage of this Act in 1890. So, with that law still on the books, riddle me this:
- How can the NFL and the NFLPA have an agreement that limits the competition for player agents by imposing things that agents must do before they are allowed to act as agents for players who may or may not choose to have such representation?
- Why is that part of the existing CBA between the NFL and the NFLPA not a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act? It smells to me like an “anti-competitive agreement” which creates a “combination in restraint of trade.”
- Why is Lamar Jackson limited in his range of choices for representation?
- Why is Lamar Jackson required to be a member of the NFLPA which is then a party to limiting his ability to choose his representation?
I know that five readers of these rants are practicing attorneys and one is a retired attorney. If any – or all – of them explain this to me, I will be happy to share their insights in a future rant.
Moving on … Last week, there was a report at frontofficesports.com about NCAA plans to make postseason college basketball for women more equitable vis á vis men’s college basketball. At issue is the funding/sponsorship of the Women’s NIT and how that event has a second class status when compared to the Men’s NIT. Here is the link to that report; I recommend that you read it in its entirety; it is thorough and well written. It is clear that the NCAA has paid far more attention and devoted far more resources to the Men’s NIT than the Women’s NIT; and in the environment of 2023, that is a problem to be rectified. However, one way to rectify it would be for the NCAA to cancel both NIT tournaments owning up to the fact that neither of them is of any relevance.
That will never happen because it is a “reality-based solution” …
Finally, since much of today dealt with negotiations and agents, let me close with these lines from Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing:
“Friendship is constant in all other things.
Save in the office and affairs of love:
Therefore, all hearts in love use their own tongues.
Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………
3 thoughts on “More On Leverage …”
Six attorneys? I belong to a Raiders’ club and they’re all ex-felons.
none current? they are slipping…
Maybe some Raiders’ attorneys were former felons, but my lawyer-friends who read these rants are upstanding citizens… 👍
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