New proposal not hostile to players

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New proposal not hostile to players

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
With the suddenly accelerating NFL labor talks moving to an undisclosed location here in Massachusetts on Wednesday,here are afew quick hits on what we've learned so far: 1. It's important to remember that the players are the ones giving something back here. The ownersfelt - rightly - that they got taken to the cleaners in 2006 and wanted the CBA reopened so that they could reshape the percentage of total revenue the players get. So the very fact that there will be some change in the owners' favor makes them "winners." But as the outline of the proposal comes into focus, it seems the players are not going to get beaten about the head and face in the new deal. 2. We've had so many numbers and percentages floated at us since the process began - 60-40, 50-50, 58-42 - it's hard to keep track of what exactly the numbers are. Here's the simplest explanation: The NFL reaps 9 billion in revenue. In the past, credits to the owners for spending on game growth totaling about 1 billion were taken off the top. Of the remaining 8 billion, the players took about 60 percent, the owners 40 percent. That meant the players got about 4.8 billion. That's 53 percent of the 9 billion. In the new proposed model, the players will get 48 percent. The foolish "1 billion off the top then start doing the math" is being tossed. If the revenue were still 9 billion, the players would get 4.3 billion. Yes, that's 500 million less, but remember, at the outset, the players said they'd take a 50-50 split. So the 48 percent works. Why? Read on. 3. ESPN seemed to be the first with the details of the proposal owners discussed on Tuesday. And one of the most beneficial to the players is that teams will be compelled to pay nearly to the salary cap. Previously, there was a "floor" that was significantly lower than the cap. For instance, in 2009, the salary cap was almost 128 million, but the floor was 112.1 million. In the new proposal, even if the salary cap drops to pre-2009 totals - say 120 million (by the way, owners wanted to make it 114 million in 2011 in their final proposal before the lockout), even the poor-mouth teams will be forced to pay close to the cap. The actual numbers aren't yet known. 4. The rising salary floor - and the fact the cap will likely remain in the 120 million range (and continue to rise) - could mean trouble for the lower-revenue teams like Cincinnati and Buffalo. Yes, all teams share in the lucrative TV deals and there will be a windfall when they are next renegotiated but the fiscal realities for places like Buffalo remain unchanged. They don't have a lucrative market to mine like the Patriots, Jets, Giants, Redskins and Cowboys.According to a Forbes study of team valuations in 2010, theCowboys had more than twice the total revenue of the Lions (420 million to 210 million).The cap gobbles up significantly more for those low-income teams, preventing them from realizing the same opportunities to improve their infrastructure, hire more employees, spend more on coaching and scouting. So the playing field will continue to tilt. And if the market isn't going to change in a place like Buffalo, it may be time to change markets. (Los Angeles?) 5. The fact that free agency will be granted after four years is no surprise. It's always been four years. The six-year free agency we saw in the uncapped year was a penalty to the players that was put into the last CBA to force negotiation before the CBA entered its walk year. Why would the owners expect the players to take a penal version of free agency in the new deal? I was surprised people were surprised by that news. 6. Good friend Don Banks of SI.com reported that the meetings in Chicago were short on specifics. Why? It seems that, while some aspects of the deal are locked down, many are still being hashed out and they didn't want factions to form among the owners over things that were still in the womb, so to speak. 7. In order for the proposal to pass with the owners, 24 of the 32 need to be in favor. For the players, it's a simple majority. 8. Prediction? Deal announced by July 8. Free agency begins July 12. Camps open on time.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.