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

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

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PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.