Details of owners' offer


Details of owners' offer

With all proper credit to ESPN.coms Pierre Lebrun, who acquired a copy of the NHLs latest comprehensive proposal that was sent out to each of the 30 owners, here are the terms for a 300-page document that should rekindle CBA talks, with a January 19 deadline day to cancel the season:

The highlights:

Ten-year agreement (through 2021-22 season). Parties have mutual opt-out right after eight years.

50-50 revenue split between clubs and players with current Hockey Related Revenue accounting.

300 million in make-whole payments (outside the system) to compensate players for the reduced value of player contracts in the early years of the new CBA.

No contractual roll backs of player salaries.

Clubs can operate with an effective cap number of 70.2 million in 2012-13, but must come into compliance with a 60 million cap for the start of the 2013-14 season.

Each club will be entitled to execute up to one Compliance Buy-Out prior to the 2013-14 season. Payments made to the player will not be charged against the teams xap, but will be charged against the players' share.

Establishment of a Defined Benefit Pension Plan that will provide maximum permissible benefits to players upon retirement. The plan will be funded with contributions out of the players share. 50 million of the make-whole payment amount of 300 million will be allocated and set aside to fund potential underfunding liabilities of the plan at end of CBA.

Rules for entry-level system, salary arbitration and Group 3 unrestricted free agency will remain unchanged.

Maximum contract length of six years, subject to a clubs ability to re-sign its own player for a term of up to seven years (provided the player played his last full season with the re-signing club). In addition, year-to-year salary variability will be limited (up or down) to no more than 10 percent of the value of the first year of a multiyear contract.

Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'


Hightower on Collins: 'He makes it a lot easier for me'

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower is coming off of one of the best games of his career, and he did it while running the Patriots defensive huddle without the help of his on-the-field partner at the linebacker level.

"It’s a lot more fluent having Jamie [Collins] out there," Hightower said on Wednesday. "A lot of the times we coordinate things a lot together. I usually take care of the front, he takes care of the secondary. We have our own way of doing things. Sometimes Jamie is just like, ‘No, you go ahead and you just make the calls and I’ll play off of you.’

"It helps having him out there. I mean, he does everything so he makes it a lot easier for me. Anytime I can have him out there with me, I’m 100 percent having him out there."

Hightower has plenty of experience playing without Collins, however, and Collins is accustomed to having to go without Hightower. Both had issues staying on the field in 2015, and although it's early, that trend has continued this season.

Hightower missed Weeks 2 and 3 due to a knee injury, and Collins missed Week 6 with a hip issue, meaning the duo has been available to coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia only three times this year. 

Last season the pair was active for 10 of 18 games, including both playoff games, and during a Week 5 win over the Cowboys, Hightower played just nine snaps. Collins dealt with an illness that kept him out for four games last season, and Hightower, as has been the case for much of his career, was limited by (and often played through) myriad ailments.

Both are vital to the long-term success of the Patriots defense in 2016, but it's been hit-or-miss as to when they'll be out there to play off of one another as Hightower described.

"Our linebackers, Jamie, Dont'a, they're two of the best in the league," said safety Duron Harmon following Hightower's dominating performance against the Bengals in Week 6. "Any time we can have those guys out there, they just continue to create havoc.

"They make plays, they make it easier for us, especially me. The quarterback can't look off as long when Dont'a's all in his face -- him and Jamie. Having him on the field is a plus. And when you get both of them on the field it's a double-plus."

And therein lies the issue: Having both Hightower and Collins out there together has felt like a luxury rather than the norm. 

At some point, the Patriots will have to make decisions as to what they'll do at the linebacker level for the foreseeable future. Both Hightower and Collins are slated to hit free-agency, and their durability will certainly factor into the equation when the Patriots make them offers to stick in New England.

Until then, though, both will work to be available as often as possible -- both for their team's sake and their own as they eye new deals -- where they can stress opposing offenses at a degree to which most linebacker combinations around the league can only aspire. 

"With us out there we’re able to do a lot of different things, [we have] a lot of versatility," Hightower said. "So hopefully we can both stay out there."

Hightower was removed from the Patriots injury report last week, meaning he's able to take on a full workload in practice. Collins, meanwhile, continues to be limited in practice, and his availability for Sunday's game with the Steelers is not yet known. In place of Collins, sixth-round rookie Elandon Roberts earned the bulk of the playing time against the Bengals last week. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo saw a season-high eight defensive snaps in the win.