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DeMaurice Smith rips NFL owners over guaranteed contract hesitation

DeMaurice Smith hasn’t seen anything like Lamar Jackson’s impending contract situation in nearly 15 years as executive director of the NFL Players Association.

He blasted NFL owners in a statement regarding fully guaranteed contracts posted on the NFLPA website Thursday, writing that owners “hate fully guaranteed contacts [sic] because they are better for gamers than for owners.

Smith continued: “Thus these contracts transfer control to the player, allow him to get the most out of the arrangement and limit the control of the owner and the team.”

According to Smith, a pivotal moment in the history of guaranteed contracts in sports dates back to 1983, when Larry Bird signed a contract with the Celtics who were taking incentives – which a New York Times article from that year reported. described as the defining factor of Moses Malone. agreement – and turned them into guaranteed payments.

NFL Players Association President DeMaurice Smith has criticized league owners for their reluctance to hand out fully guaranteed contracts.
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Smith then asked why a process similar to the NBA, where Bird’s contract evolved into a framework that still defines current deals, has yet to materialize in the NFL.

Kirk Cousins ​​helped shape the rhetoric with his three-year, $84 million guaranteed contract in 2018, making him, at the time, the first NFL quarterback to sign such a deal. OK.

DeShaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million extension with the Browns — which was fully guaranteed — emerged as another example for Smith and the NFLPA in March 2022.

“The NFL Draft and the franchise tag system exist because owners have colluded in the past to both depress and restrict markets,” Smith said. “This time they are criminally playing the game itself.”

Lamar Jackson received the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Ravens.
Lamar Jackson received the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Ravens.
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Smith, who was elected executive director of the NFLPA in 2009, wrote that he was also concerned about quarterbacks nearing the end of their rookie contracts, such as Joe Burrow of the Bengals, Jalen Hurts of the Eagles and Justin Herbert of the Loads.

During a January interview on the “Pivot Podcast,” Smith echoed a similar tone and called the self-representing Jackson situation a “pivotal moment” for NFL players.

“A fully guaranteed contract in Jackson’s case means that all quarterbacks whose rookie contracts expire (and should anyway) demand them in the next cycle,” Smith wrote in his NFLPA article. “Make no mistake, what’s happening right now is their effort to lock in the same cycle that ushered in fully guaranteed contracts in other sports, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in the NFL. following the Cousins ​​and Watson contracts.”

The Ravens officially gave Jackson the non-exclusive franchise tag on March 7, and it kicked off a toss that oddly included more teams who said they weren’t interested in Jackson – like the Falcons. , Commanders, Dolphins, Panthers and Raiders – than those who were.

Other teams can negotiate with Jackson, but the Ravens would have the ability to match any offer sheet.

But if Jackson can’t finalize a long-term deal with Baltimore or another team, the non-exclusive franchise number has been set at $32.4 million for the 2023 season.

In 12 games last season, Jackson threw for 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions, guiding Baltimore to an 8-4 record from the field.

He suffered a PCL sprain in December, which sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season and the Ravens’ loss to the Bengals in the AFC wildcard round.

New York Post

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