Curran: NFLPA's 50-50 offer isn't what it seems

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Curran: NFLPA's 50-50 offer isn't what it seems

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
NFL owners walked away from the bargaining table on Wednesday, balking at the 50-50 split of "all revenue" that the NFL Players Association offered. The stomp-away cut short Wednesday's scheduled nine-hour meeting, prompted cancellation of Thursday's bargaining session, and has resulted also in a cancellation of next week's planned meeting at which owners were going to be briefed on progress. The NFLPA is looking pretty good. The owners? Demonized. The truth? Not as cut and dried as the NFLPA will have you believe. The 50-50 split is, in essence, what the players already enjoy. What about the 60 percent that players supposedly were already taking? Isn't the 50 percent a 10 percent giveback? Actually, the NFLPA has moved the goalposts on everyone. And - because of the complexity of the negotiations - it's hard for fans and the media to realize that. Bear with me. Currently, the total revenue generated by the NFL is about 9 billion. The amount of money the NFL has been allowed to take as a credit to "grow the business" amounts to about 1 billion. That money goes to stadium building, market expansion, funding team stores within stadiums that sell merchandise that benefit the owners and players, etc. So that leaves 8 billion. The players get about 59.5 percent of that money. The NFL gets the remaining 41.5. Again, that's AFTER the 1 billion that comes off the top for game growth. So that amounts to about 4.8 billion which goes to the players. The NFLPA has always operated without including that 1 billion in their estimations of how much they make. They always signed off on the notion that they were getting 60 percent of the 8 billion. It was a landmark accomplishment when Gene Upshaw, the now-deceased head of the NFLPA, got close to that 60 percent mark in 2006. In reality, the players have ALWAYS (or at least since the new CBA was ratified in 2006) been getting 4.8 of the 9 billion in total revenues. That's a smidge over 50 percent. But nobody included that 1 billion because it wasn't going to owners or players, just being reinvested in the game. Now, though, the players are working off that 9 billion figure. And that's where the math has gotten fuzzy. For them to come to the table on Wednesday and say, "We'll take 50 percent of 'all revenue' instead of 'total revenue' " is no concession. (Really, someone needs to tell me what the difference between "total" and "all" is.) That is about what they're currently getting. The owners want the players to kick more money back in to grow the game. An amount that will come out to about another 1 billion. Add that to the billion the players and owners already agreed to put into the kitty to "grow the game" (build stadiums, fund the NFL Network, expand overseas) and you have the 2 billion credit you're hearing about. So the money the players will draw their dough from is now shrunk to 7 billion instead of the 8 billion they're drawing from now. TheNFLPA's math now includes that 2 billion "grow the game" stipend.So,while the ownersare asking the players to take less than the 60 percent of 8billionthey already enjoy, the players areusing 9 billion as their starting point. Sixty percent? The players say they're not getting that. Even though that's the number they beat their chests over in 2006. Moving the goalposts from the 8 billion they were happy to use as a starting point previouslyup to 9 billion now makes the NFL's proposed cut down to 7 billion seem drastic. But it really isn't. Who's right? Who's wrong? There are cases to be made on both sides. But the fact the players have always signed off on the math the way it was done - a billion off the top and then 60 percent of the 8 billion - and are now changing their talking points to include the billion being used to grow the game is a little disingenuous. And it confuses the conversation immensely. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Collins: Contract situation will take care of itself

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Collins: Contract situation will take care of itself

FOXBORO -- Not long after Bill Belichick confirmed that Jamie Collins' absence from Day 1 of training camp practice was excused, the fourth-year linebacker was spotted on the field loosening up with his teammates for Day 2. 

Given the impact Collins has on the Patriots defense when he's healthy and on the field, his return to work was not an insignificant one. His health didn't appear to be an issue as he worked in for reps with the first-team defense alongside fellow linebacker Dont'a Hightower in the middle of the field. 

He explained that his contract is not an issue at the moment, either. In the final year of his rookie deal, the 2015 Pro Bowler is scheduled to make $917,864 in base salary this season -- far below what he would make on an annual basis if he were to hit free agency.

"I'm just handling business, man," Collins said when asked if there were any updates on his contract status. "That'll take care of itself."

The Patriots are in an unusual position in that they have a handful of young players of import to the defense that in the final years of their deals. Hightower is set to become a free agent after this season, as are defensive end Jabaal Sheard, safety Duron Harmon and corner Logan Ryan. Malcolm Butler, a Pro Bowl corner last season, will be a restricted free agent after the season. 

Signing them all could be difficult if not impossible, but there have been no holdouts to this point. After being publicly excused from Thursday's on-the-field work by Belichick, and after hearing from him on Friday, Collins' brief absence certainly would not fall under that category.

Brady spikes his helmet in frustration during competitive day of practice

Brady spikes his helmet in frustration during competitive day of practice

FOXBORO -- It could have been that he's been splitting first-team reps with Jimmy Garoppolo. It could have been that he had just thrown a pass that was batted down by a ball boy holding a paddle. It could have been that he's simply operating at a low boil at all times now knowing that he has to serve a four-game suspension. 

Whatever the reason, Tom Brady was hot. And he took it out on his helmet Friday, slamming it to the turf -- with ear pads exploding out upon impact -- after the final snap of the 7-on-7 period at Patriots practice. 

It was the most noteworthy show of frustration during what appeared to be a highly-competitive day of work for Bill Belichick's club. Just two days into practice, and one day before the first day of work in full pads, there was a visible emotional edge exhibited by several players on the team. 

"That's just football," tight end Martellus Bennett said. "It is what it is. I like guys that have an edge, and I think a lot of guys on this team have an edge. When they have that edge, it makes you bring it up a notch, too."

Bennett may have helped to amp things up when he caught a touchdown pass over Patrick Chung from Jimmy Garoppolo. He used his 6-foot-7 frame to go up and over Chung, and then kept his balance as he corralled the ball with Chung down around his feet. When the play was over Bennett, dropped the ball by Chung while Chung was on the ground. 

Later in the practice, Rob Gronkowski caught a touchdown on a back-shoulder throw from Garoppolo with Jordan Richards in coverage. Gronkowski promptly threw the ball in the air in celebration, which seemed to irk Dont'a Hightower. The linebacker quickly retrieved the ball and chucked it at Gronkowski's back. 

Brady's helmet slam came on a short pass that was batted down by one of the paddles made to simulate long-armed defensive linemen. He hadn't looked very shaky leading up to that point, completing 7-of-9 passes, though one of those attempts resulted in a Duron Harmon interception. But two incompletions to finish his 7-on-7 stretch led to the helmet slam that drew an audible reaction from surprised fans in attendance. 

Brady's reps and their timing drew considerable attention yet again. In a switch from Thursday's practice, it was Brady who took the first-team reps during 11-on-11 work, while Garoppolo was the first on the field during the 7-on-7 portion of practice. Each player got 10 snaps in 7-on-7 work and seven snaps in 11-on-11 work so the workload was once again split evenly. 

In analyzing the results for both quarterbacks, Garoppolo went 9-for-10 in 7-on-7 work, while Brady went 7-for-10 with an interception during the same period. In the 11-on-11 portion of practice -- after the helmet spike -- Brady went 5-for-7. Garoppolo went 4-for-7, and Jacoby Brissett went 4-for-7 with an interception made by linebacker Kevin Snyder on a deflection from corner Darryl Roberts. 

It's not unusual for competitive moments -- and accompanying emotional outbursts -- to transpire during camp. That it's happening already with the Patriots could foreshadow weeks of such moments, which, given the talent level the team currently boasts on its roster, perhaps should be expected. 

When both sides of the football have as many accomplished players as the Patriots do, and when both sides are executing, the level of play tends to rise. With that, the competitive juices often do the same. 

"Every single day I've been here since OTAs it's been very competitive," Bennett said. "Everyone here does their jobs so well, and everyone's competing. You just gotta bring it every single day."

That may not be good news for the equipment staff that has to deal with the fallout of busted gear. But for coach Belichick, who has long called training camp the "competition camp" (as opposed to OTAs and minicamp, which is more of a "teaching camp"), it's probably music to his ears. 

Bennett, Gronkowski are students of each other's games

Bennett, Gronkowski are students of each other's games

FOXBORO – It’s nothing but bliss so far for Martellus Bennett in New England.

The humongous and irrepressible Marty B. met with the media after practice Friday. Fresh off a workout in which he picked a red-zone pass off the top of Patrick Chung’s helmet and did a little, “Lemme just leave this right here . . . ” placement of the football at Chung’s feet, and otherwise continued to stand out in all the right ways, Bennett spoke about his developing relationships with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

Bennett, Gronk and Brady have been working as a unit during a few quick side sessions. It’s an annual occurrence with Brady and his leading targets. Bennett shared an interesting detail though that refers back to something Brady spoke of with Gronk in 2015:

Body language.

“I think for Rob it’s a little different than for me (working with Brady),” Bennett explained. “He’s been with Brady so long and he knows the body language. And we move differently. Even though people think we’re a lot alike, we run our routes different. Understanding the body language of how I go into my cuts and where I like the ball might be different than when he throws to Rob, so we’re just trying to build as much chemistry as possible. It’s just conversations in motion.”

Brady mentioned last year how he’s able to watch Gronk running with his back to him and still read subtle cues as to when Gronk is going to cut, slow down, accelerate, etc., and then time his throw accordingly. Brady is in the early stages of learning Bennett’s subtleties.

And Bennett is learning from watching the other two. Dripping sweat after the workout in humid, cloudy conditions, Bennett got animated talking about the process.

“I was able to play with [Jets receiver] Brandon Marshall for a long time and I learned a lot of my game from him,” said Bennett. “Now to be with another great player like Rob, he does so many things well, when you watch tape (you can’t see all of it) but when you’re right next to him, you’re like, ‘Man this guy’s really, really good. Hey Rob, how’d you do that? How’d you do this? Man, show me that. Come to the side real quick and show me how you did that move.’

“It’s just give-and-take, sometimes he asks me, ‘Hey man, you did this today, I like that. Show me that,’ " he explained. “So we’re just working trying to make each other better and I think that’s what the whole tight end room is trying to do.”

Bennett’s been pigeonholed a bit as a quirky guy with great talent but intermittent intensity. Right now, the intensity’s been flowing freely.

“I ended up on IR in like November [last season] so I really haven’t had that much football for a long time so it’s really, really good (to be on the field),” he said. “It’s like when you break up and get back with the girl that you love in the first place, so it’s been great to be back out there.”

Can Bennett, who has one year left on the deal he signed with Chicago before the Patriots traded for him, see himself sticking in Foxboro past 2016?

“Yeah,” he began before adding. “I’m not thinking about next year right now. I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can this year. Football can be taken from you at any time. I didn’t get to finish the season last year. To me it’s just a joy to be out there playing and enjoying the game and enjoying the process. I’m just worried about my todays.”