By Tom E. CurranThe NFL is going all-out to win the hearts of the public in this labor battle. Just as important - creating division among the players. To those two ends, the NFL released Friday night details of their proposal to the players. The first point in the proposal saying that the NFL accepted the NFLPA's proposed cap of 161 million in 2014 is sure to make the eyes of players not in the room widen a little bit. The salary cap in 2009 was 130 million. A source on the players side told me, however, that the owners proposed to roll the salary cap in 2011 back to the level of 2007 (109 million). Here's the NFL's summary. SUMMARY OF NFL PROPOSAL1. We more than split the economic difference between us, increasing our proposed cap for 2011 significantly and accepting the Unions proposed cap number for 2014 (161 million per club).2. An entry level compensation system based on the Unions rookie cap proposal, rather than the wage scale proposed by the clubs. Under the NFL proposal, players drafted in rounds 2-7 would be paid the same or more than they are paid today. Savings from the first round would be reallocated to veteran players and benefits.3. A guarantee of up to 1 million of a players salary for the contract year after his injury the first time that the clubs have offered a standard multi-year injury guarantee.4. Immediate implementation of changes to promote player health and safety bya. Reducing the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 to 10, and limiting on-field practice time and contact;b. Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season; andc. Increasing number of days off for players.5. Commit that any change to an 18-game season will be made only by agreement and that the 2011 and 2012 seasons will be played under the current 16-game format.6. Owner funding of 82 million in 2011-12 to support additional benefits to former players, which would increase retirement benefits for more than 2000 former players by nearly 60 percent.7. Offer current players the opportunity to remain in the player medical plan for life.8. Third party arbitration for appeals in the drug and steroid programs.9. Improvements in the Mackey plan, disability plan, and degree completion bonus program.10. A per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons..AOLWebSuite .AOLPicturesFullSizeLink height: 1px; width: 1px; overflow: hidden; .AOLWebSuite a color:blue; text-decoration: underline; cursor: pointer .AOLWebSuite a.hsSig cursor: default
Six days – four quarters of football – remain in Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.
The fact is the Patriots are 3-0 and have gotten a long – and enjoyable – look at their quarterback depth behind Brady. Brady, meanwhile, has gotten a chance to shave one-quarter off the season-long wear-and-tear he takes.
But highlighting silver linings and pointing out there’s not much sand left in the suspension hourglass is no real consolation. Said one team source Thursday night, “It’s never going to go away.”
What’s Brady been up to? Mixing family time and working out. He’s routinely spent four hours a day training, I’m told, presumably with his body coach Alex Guerrero at TB12 Sports Performance at Patriot Place. Also, aside from his Sunday session with Wes Welker, Brady’s been throwing to young college players at undisclosed locations, eschewing the opportunity to bring in some of the “name” former players who’ve reached out and offered their services.
Spotted in Italy with wife Gisele Bundchen last week, Brady’s also been back home in San Mateo visiting with his family.
Speaking to two people close to him, I was told he succeeded in making peace with the time off and avoiding the creep of too much bitterness. I was also told he’s unbelievably motivated to return at a high level and wants his transition back to be seamless in terms of performance and conditioning. That last part is, of course, to be expected. But it will be interesting to see how Brady does perform out of the gates after a month’s forced exile.
NINKOVICH RETURNS, TOO
The lesser of the two suspended prodigal sons set to return next week – Rob Ninkovich – is no doubt going to benefit physically from the quarter-season vacation as well. And the defensive ends who’ve performed well in his absence – Jabaal Sheard and especially Chris Long – will do well to have Ninkovich back in the mix. Mention should also be made of Trey Flowers who has shown up in opponent’s backfields on a weekly basis. It depends on what your personal cup of tea might be, but through three games, Long seems to me a much better defensive fit for this team than Chandler Jones. Jones was the more explosive pass-rusher but Long’s ability in the running game, and his play-in, play-out impact in applying pressure on the tackle in front of him makes it seem so far as if he’s an upgrade.
NEW DEALS AHEAD?
Still no word on which Patriot may be in line for a new deal since the team restructured Devin McCourty and freed up some cap space.
Donta Hightower, Malcolm Butler and Jamie Collins have been seen as the most likely targets for extensions and a redo of Hightower at this point would whittle down his $7M cap number and possibly allow another extension to be executed for either Collins or Butler, as our Phil Perry pointed out. Jabaal Sheard, meanwhile, is the Patriot who flies under the radar when extension talk starts. He may be every bit as important to the success of the Patriots defense as the other three.
The Bills are 0-2, the natives are beyond restless in Buffalo and the Cardinals are in Western New York on Sunday. The Bills are expected to play without wide receiver Sammy Watkins and are a team staring into the esophagus of 0-3 with a visit to the Patriots coming next week. Have a gander at the Bills Mailbag in the Buffalo News. Seems like years since Rex was all giddy about the paint job on his new truck. It was less than 19 months ago.
Phil Perry joins SNC to explain to you why it is still possible that both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett could be ready for Week 4 against the Bills.