Yes, some owners have talked about limiting quarterback contracts

We have been advocating for years that the highest paid players should seek contracts that tie their earnings to a percentage of the cap. This would ensure that a long-term agreement never becomes obsolete – because the cap is constantly increasing.

The league (particularly the NFL Management Council) has consistently opposed this. (Players who have tried to get a percentage of the cap as compensation in the past include Kirk Cousins ​​​​and Darrelle Revis. It is possible that others have tried this more recently. Joe Burrow would have been a perfect candidate for it.)

But the league is interested in a different kind of cap-based formula when it comes to quarterback contracts. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (who works for the league so has to take this lightly) recently mentioned it on Rich Eisen’s show.

“That certainly was the case discussion within the league among certain owners about even the idea of ​​a quarterback cap, that at some point you don’t want the quarterback numbers to exceed a certain percentage of your salary cap,” Pelissero said Tuesday, via “As far as I know, that hasn’t really gained traction, partly because so many teams have paid their quarterbacks.”

As we heard, it wouldn’t be an official, separate cap. It would be an unofficial, off-the-books (and, more importantly, outside the CBA) arrangement, under which teams would refuse to go above a certain level. All teams. Which would make it pointless for, say, Dak Prescott to push his way onto the open market. The best deal he would get from the Cowboys would be the same as the best deal he would get from anyone else. (It would be a maximum contract in the NBA.)

It’s the natural reaction to the dismay expressed by multiple owners when the Browns signed Deshaun Watson to a five-year, fully guaranteed contract. The owners, who meet with at least four teams a year and (as the union has long believed) concern themselves with matters that are otherwise the subject of individualized negotiations between players and teams, would be violating the collective bargaining agreement by creating a secret agreement . , wink-wink scheme among themselves to limit the quarterback’s reward.

By acknowledging that the owners talked about it, Pelissero may have accidentally opened Pandora’s Box. Going forward, it will be useful to keep a close eye on what deals are being made, what cap amounts are involved, and whether quarterbacks who hit the open market find something better from another team.

The only way to properly settle a league-wide quarterback salary cap is to negotiate it with the NFL Players Association. And such efforts would quickly drive home the reality that there must be different bargaining units for each position, such as running back. For that reason alone, the union would be inclined not to agree to such an approach.

For that reason alone, any talk among owners about a quarterback cap (combined with the proof-in-the-pudding of the upcoming deals) could lay the groundwork for a collusion case against the NFL.

There is already a collusion case against the league, involving teams’ refusal to give fully guaranteed contracts to certain veteran quarterbacks. This one would be a much bigger deal. If/when the union secretly implements a cap on quarterback wages and if/when the union can prove it, that would make for a pretty compelling legal battle between management and workers.

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