Worst-case NFL labor scenario arrives

Worst-case NFL labor scenario arrives

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com
Stupidity reigns.The NFL Players Association, unhappy with the league's refusal to showthe last 10 years of financial records to prove their profits, folded their association today. The move - called decertification - means the NFLPA will no longer collectively bargain with the league. Instead, each NFL players is an individual contractor. As such, they can now legally demand a level of freedom the NFL didn't afford them when they were part of an association.Franchise tags restricting movement? Salary caps? NFL Draft? Puh. Unconstitutional. As an association, the players agreed to accept some things that were against fair trade practices as long as the NFLPA and the NFL collectivelybargained in good faith. Now that the union has decertified, individual players can take the NFL to court challenging that the NFL is and has been in violation of antitrust laws. Major League Baseball has an antitrust exemption. The NFL does not. Players like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Logan Mankins and Mike Vrabel have all agreed to be plaintiffs against the NFL in court. Judge David Doty in Minneapolis has jurisdiction over the NFL and NFLPA's battle. Historically, he's ruled in favor of the players. What now? The collective bargaining agreement and all the rules governing the league expired Friday night at midnight. When that happened, the owners - who are the ones demanding a change tothe current system- locked out the players. The players will maintain that they are ready to work as independent contractors for the agreed-upon wages. The NFLwill charge that the decertification is a sham - as it did in a statement Friday afternoon - and the players are just trying to expose the owners to an antitrust lawsuit. They will try to block decertification and accuse the players of trying to get the owners into court. The players will argue that they can't be locked out. That they have a right to work and that the NFL teams are executing a group boycott of the players. Damages in an antitrust lawsuit are "trebled" meaning they are multiplied by three. All these charges and arguments will land in front of Doty and the National Labor Relations Board. A couple of notes. You'll hear the owners argue and allege that the players bargained in bad faith. That they want litigation. That their goal all along was decertification. That's the NFL's way of trying to block the NFLPA's decertification. There is a chance that the courts can rule that the players must return to work under the "last, best offer" or under the rules of the final year of the last CBA. In short, a lot of different things can happen that - frankly - I'm not as up-to-date on as I would have been if I studied labor law. Do me a favor - look at thisto get the lowdown on decertification. Check this for all the possibilities of what comes next.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

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Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

The Patriots have reportedly added nine undrafted free agents after selecting nine players in the 2016 NFL Draft.

DJ Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State
Shaquille Powell, RB, Duke
De’Runnya Wilson, TE/WR, Miss State
Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt
Woodrow Hamilton, DT, Mississippi State
CJ Johnson, LB, Mississippi State
V’Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, Florida Atlantic

Foster is arguably the highest profile player the Patriots signed and was filmed celebrating the moment.

Foster has the versatility the Patriots looks for. He played running back over his first three collegiate seasons before shifting to wide receiver. He finished his career at Arizona State with 666 total touches for 4,813 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Stay tuned for more…

'Football makeup' central to Pats draft picks

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'Football makeup' central to Pats draft picks

FOXBORO – The Patriots added nine players through the draft this weekend.

And when you looked at their resumes and backstories, almost all of them had one of those “Patriot markers” on them. Some had a character trait. Some were from a program that the Patriots particularly trust. Some showed the ability to overcome adversity or be adaptable. And there weren’t any guys that seem to present off-field risks.

None of these markers, of course, are guarantees of anything. They’re all in their early 20s, still in their formative years. There’s no way to project how money, geography, opportunity and competing at this level will change them.

The football, said Nick Caserio, obviously comes first. But who a young player is has to be a big part of the equation.

“It’s everything,” said the Patriots Director of Player Personnel. “I mean, it really is. We try to look each position on the board, each position they have their own particular factors and position skill set that we evaluate and we go through and we assign a grade …There’s certain things that a corner’s going to have to be able to do. There are certain things that a tight end’s going to have to be able to do. Everyone has their own particular skills that they’re going to have to do. Will he check every box? Well maybe not but does he check enough?

“The most important thing is to take the strengths of a player and try to put him into position to where he can utilize those strengths. Not ‘well he doesn’t do this’. Then we won’t put him in that position hopefully. So [we] try to identify what the skill is, how well they do it, and then put them in a position where they can actually see it. So there’s the physical component.”

Then, Caserio said, there’s the projection of how the person will perform.

“Call it ‘football makeup’ component is a central part of it as well,” he said. “Look, we’re not perfect. Some players work the way we think (others don’t). It comes with the territory. But you’re trying to create a profile of the player within our building and then how he’s going to handle everything that comes along with being a New England Patriot. Being in the program, the demands that we place on those players, so you factor everything in. Some players, they may check every single place both from a physical standpoint and from a football-makeup standpoint and you have others that maybe they check enough of them and then you feel comfortable about that level.”

Rolling through the players they took, it’s interesting to try and see what may have been a “football makeup” draw with each. Second-round corner Cyrus Jones played for Nick Saban at Alabama. He’s played in the biggest games and shown well in them. He’s a film junkie. He tackles well. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s not the biggest corner. But he’s got an edge and he excels on special teams.

Third-rounder Joe Thuney is “very productive, very durable, very bright; probably as intelligent as anybody at that position,” said Caserio. He also can play anywhere on the line. Smarts and versatility are highly valued by the Patriots.

Third-round quarterback Jacoby Brissett is a gifted, charismatic leader who’s had a relationship with Bill Parcells since Brissett was in high school. “I can't even describe what type of person he is and what he's meant to my life,” said Brissett. “Just him grooming me as a man and preparing me for tough times, hard times, good times. He's been so helpful to me throughout this process and just keeping my steady and keeping a good head on my shoulders and you know I just can't thank him enough.”

Third-rounder Vincent Valentine from Nebraska? Versatile big man who can play all over the defensive line.

Malcolm Mitchell, the Georgia wide receiver? You couldn’t find a more likable and genuine kid, it seems. And the scouting report offered by longtime draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki? “A tough, passionate, crafty slot receiver who can be trusted to move the sticks in critical situations … Brings similar energy, toughness and attitude as Steelers 1998 third-round pick Hines Ward. Smart and versatile enough to contribute in multiple roles perhaps even at cornerback where he began his Georgia career and could be most attractive to a veteran coaching staff such as the Patriots or Steelers.”

Kamu Grugier-Hill? A safety who can play at the linebacker level and has huge special teams upside that comes with a recommendation from Eastern Illinois college teammate Jimmy Garoppolo. Another sixth-rounder, Elandon Roberts? Big-time character guy who doesn’t have great measurables but had great production. Seventh-rounder Ted Karras? A four-year starter at guard in the Big Ten with Illinois. Seventh-round wideout Devin Lucien? Dedicated student who was able to switch from UCLA to Arizona State as a graduate transfer and still go out and be very productive with the Sun Devils in his final collegiate season.

There aren’t any real injury dice rolls.

There aren't any character dice rolls.

The “football makeup” seems to be there.

Now?

“They have no idea what they’re getting into,” said Bill Belichick on Saturday night. “It’s not their fault. We all had to go through it at some point or another. They’re going to get a big dose of what they probably haven’t had a whole lot of, certainly any time recently. It’s a big load. The competition level is going to step up. The volume is going to step up. It’s not a scholarship. In college they can’t take them away from you. In the NFL you’re fighting for a job so it’s a whole new ball game.”

In the end, football ability will be the main determinant as to whether they stay or go. But the Patriots made sure that – at least on the surface – they all appear to have the ability to withstand what’s going to be coming at them.